T.I. was holding the mic in front of 30,000 people at a major venue in his hometown on Sunday — but the message he was conveying to the spectators was far weightier than rapping about being the life of the party or even holding a top spot in hip-hop music. On a short leave from his house arrest, the King of the South attended the New Birth Missionary Church Easter Sunday service, and as a guest speaker, talked about HIV and AIDS awareness, according to his rep.
"We're here to celebrate the death of our Lord and Savior," T.I. told the congregation, according to Atlanta news outlet 11 Alive, as part of his three-plus-minute speech at the podium. "He was willing to give his life for us so that we may ask for forgiveness for our sins and be forgiven and saved. ... No matter how many times we have to ask ... or how long it takes to get it right." Other guests included actress Sheryl Lee Ralph and gospel-music great Fred Hammond.
The church's theme for 2008 has been "The Blood," and it has made efforts to increase AIDS and HIV prevention and awareness. New Birth's pastor, Eddie Long, recently asked Tip to be a part of the service and last week the Atlanta MC was granted permission by the courts to attend. T.I. was arrested in November on gun charges and has been serving house arrest for the past several months.
Tip, according to his rep, was accompanied by many of his loved ones — including his mother, his six children and significant other Tameka "Tiny" Cottle (she's six months pregnant with a boy, the couple's second child) — and arrived at the Dome in a tour bus. He stayed for the entire service then went home and ate dinner with his family.
While Tip has been serving house arrest awaiting trial, he's been recording dozens of songs. Some of his rhymes recently surfaced via the remix to Lupe Fiasco's "Superstar," which also features Young Jeezy.
Tip's rep said he has a slew of other surprise guest appearances coming soon — and one of those could be with 50 Cent. DJ Drama told MTV News on Monday (March 24) that T.I. is in talks to appear on the next G-Unit mixtape, which will be part of Drama's popular Gangsta Grillz street CD series. An official T.I. single should be out some time in the coming weeks, and his next album, Paper Trail, is slated for a September release.