T.I. says he doesn't know when his Paper Trail LP will be released this year, but it was clear when he talked to us on Wednesday (February 12) that his competitive itch is coming out, though he's still on house arrest while awaiting trial on gun-possession charges.
"It's a lot of bullsh-- out right now," he told MTV News via phone from Atlanta. "I'm not gonna front. I feel it's definitely about time for somebody to come back out and kick this thing back in gear. The rotation is suffering right now. I intend to do something about it. It's just a matter of when."
In December, Tip sent a video message to his fans via his social-networking site, StreetCred.com, saying that he was 30 percent done with the album. He's obviously been putting in work since then.
"Everything's perfect, everything's perfect," Young Dro, T.I.'s childhood friend and Grand Hustle Records artist, insisted Sunday on the Grammy red carpet. "His mind's state is Paper Trail. Since he's been home, he's recorded like 50 songs. Plus, he's writing [rhymes on paper] now, so y'all in trouble."
One record that is a lock to make the album is "Let My Beat Pound."
"That's gonna be a big record," Tip said. "It's a different record. It's a record I approached differently, and it don't sound like a typical T.I. record. It's basically about when you got your first car, one of the first things was to make sure your [sound] system was right. The love for the boomin' system. It has the sentiments of LL Cool J's 'Boomin' System,' but it kind of sounds like a Sir Mix-A-Lot [song]. It's kinda got the mood and tempo of 'Posse on Broadway,' but it's outta here."
T.I. said it's doubtful that "Let My Beat Pound" will be the album's first single, but it will definitely have a presence. "It'll probably serve the same purpose as 'Top Back' did on King."
Tip promised to give the fans a couple of singles when promotion for Paper Trail begins. "Yeah, I'm definitely gonna make sure you have enough, man," he said. "Nowadays, with the age of the computers, you gotta make sure people have more than one song, so they won't download your single then look away to somewhere else."
When he's not concentrating on music, Tip is spending time in his home theater. The DVD release of his last film, "American Gangster," is February 19. He said he was surprised that the drama was denied Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Actor for Denzel Washington, but he does relish the fact the movie went over so well with the fans.
"It's one of those movies that develop a cult following," he said. "Especially being a true story and having such phenomenal talent involved like Ridley Scott, Russell Crowe, Denzel, Cuba Gooding Jr., Idris Elba. It's got so many talented actors that ... [we] in the hip-hop culture saw ourselves represented. Even though it was in a different era, we were represented. It was flattering to me to see such a high-profile movie be dedicated to the Harlem era."