T.I. Looks Back On His 'Outstanding' 2008, Despite Legal Woes

'In the beginning of this year ... it wasn't easy to assume I would have reached this level this fast,' rapper tells MTV News.

NEW YORK — "It was great — way better than last year,"

[artist id="1225081"]T.I.[/artist] smiled last week when talking about his Thanksgiving.

When it was his turn to tell the family what he was thankful for this year, how much do you want to bet he had the most to say? Just look at what he did professionally: Four Grammy nominations, two hit singles, a historic street banger with three top MCs, a buried rivalry and his highest-selling album ever.

T.I.'s 2008 is that much bigger when you consider he started the year off with a cloud of uncertainty over his head because of his felony gun charges. No matter what the odds, Tip can't be deterred.

"It's been outstanding," he said of 2008, sitting in Manhattan's S.I.R. Studio. "In the beginning of this year, the position I was in, it wasn't easy to assume I would have reached this level this fast. I gotta say, man, I'm blessed. I'm thankful. I'm looking forward to the future. I'm looking beyond this present situation I'm in."

It's no surprise that Paper Trail was his highlight of the year.

"Professionally, the release of the album and how well it's been performing on the charts," he answered about what tops his list of accomplishments. "The videos have been highlights. The performances — me and

[artist id="1269"]Jay-Z[/artist] in New York; me and

[artist id="1230523"]Kanye[/artist] in L.A.; me and

[artist id="1940303"]Rihanna[/artist] in L.A.; me, [

[artist id="961097"]Ludacris[/artist],] B.O.B., Jay out in Philly — we done had some pretty outstanding moments throughout this project."

He calls the platinum-plus album not only his greatest accomplishment in 2008, but the pre-eminent LP in his six-album catalog.

"I think every album is me at my best. Every album, when I begin making it, I intend on doing it better than the last," he explained. "The next album, I wanna do better than this one. Absolutely."

As for when that record will drop, he's still unsure, but fans can take solace in the fact that he has started production on it. "I started a little bit," he said of Paper Trail's follow-up. "I can't say [when it's coming out], man. I don't know, man. It's hard to tell. I'm ready whenever."

T.I.'s next single from will be "Dead and Gone."

[artist id="1231683"]Justin Timberlake[/artist] co-stars in the song and video. Tip is also in talks with

[artist id="1243444"]Young Jeezy[/artist] and onetime lyrical rival Ludacris about a joint tour this winter. The King of the South said he would like for it to ramp up at the top of the year.