Considering he's two months into a stretch of house arrest while he awaits trial on federal weapons charges, it wasn't a surprise that T.I. was home for the holidays. And though his list of approved guests is reportedly small and heavily monitored by authorities, Tip tried to spread some Christmas cheer over the weekend by posting a video on his StreetCred.com social networking site, updating fans on the recording of his upcoming album, Paper Trail, and offering remembrances of some of the friends he lost this year.
Standing in front of a fireplace, next to a towering Christmas tree in his Atlanta-area home and wearing a black knit cap, button-down shirt, long black scarf and jeans, T.I. wishes everyone a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
"Sorry I couldn't be there with you to do it face-to-face," he laments. Reiterating his earlier video message, he thanks fans for their support and prayers, saying "they're definitely working, keep the prayer going up. I know God is listening."
Though the charges he is facing are serious and could land the rapper (born Clifford Harris Jr.) up to 10 years in prison, T.I. tells fans to focus on themselves and not to sweat his problems. "Don't worry about me, man," he says. "Find you something else to worry about. God got me covered."
In the video, Tip also takes time to dispel rumors that some members of the Grand Hustle family might be jumping ship during their boss' home confinement, saying that nobody is using his legal problems as an excuse to bail. "Contrary to popular belief, there is nobody jumping ship off Grand Hustle," he says. "That is, unless they weren't built to be on Grand Hustle in the first place."
The sound of children playing can be heard midway through the video, as T.I. whispers into the camera that any "bikes, scooters [and] toys" that required assembly were put together with his own hands this year. He sheepishly admits that this was the first year he'd done all the assembly of gifts himself.
The biggest gift to fans, though, is news that the rapper is "about 30 percent" done with the recordings for his next album and that "everything is going well; everything's going great." The one thing he does not talk about in the video is what he refers to as "the situation," i.e., his case, but he advises fans to keep a smile on their faces, " 'cause I got a smile on mine."
Later in the video, sitting on a pool table in what looks like a basement rec room, Tip says he's excited about the upcoming album from Grand Hustle's Big Kuntry, as well as in-progress albums from MacBoney, Young Dro and Alfamega.
The clip ends with T.I. in a darkened room, reflecting on his unpredictable 2007 ride.
"One thing about adversity," he says solemnly. "It [gives] you character. And it tests your manhood, and everybody knows I'm good to last."
He then offers shout-outs to the late NFL star Sean Taylor and Mannie Fresh's sister (Angela Bryant), and sends a special R.I.P. to UGK's Pimp C. Calling himself an honorary UGK alumnus for life, Tip says, "Sorry I couldn't make it to the funeral. You know what I'm saying, I would have been there."
As he awaits a trial date for the charges, the self-proclaimed King of the South wraps up his message by saying, "Merry Christmas, happy holidays. Have a happy and safe New Year's, on behalf of the king himself and Grand Hustle. Keep it pimpin'."