[artist id="1225081"]T.I.'s[/artist] latest effort, Paper Trail — arguably his best album to date — has reserved a page for the King of the South in the hip-hop history books. And, despite being recently sentenced to a year and a day of jail time, fans and critics have no doubts that Tip will be back on top of the game soon — he already has a couple of albums' worth of material in the can. We here at Mixtape Monday have been up on T.I.'s skills since I'm Serious, and we even had one of his P.S.C mixtapes as our main picks years ago.
Anyway, as we did for Notorious B.I.G. a few months ago, we've devised our own fantasy track list for an ideal T.I. mixtape — if we made our own Tip street CD, these are the records we would have to include. Not only did we get some of the top-name DJs from Atlanta to weigh in, but the head of Grand Hustle himself gave us some behind-the-scenes info about making the songs. Keep in mind that Tip has a catalog as deep as any of the hottest MCs in the game right now, so we couldn't list all of our favorites — this is just part one.
"Still Ain't Forgave Myself"
"[This song] was made on my first album. Man, I just had a lot of mixed emotions about the things that I had done in my past and the things I had kept quiet about in my past and watched my partners do. And I just always have had a sense of ... I always felt like I was the one that could keep bad things from happening. And for the road that me and my homies had traveled, it had gotten us to, you know, a state of fame and celebrity, but it cost us a lot. I mean, one of my partners is doing life in prison right now. A few of my partners died along the way. And I felt like if I knew better and didn't say nothing, then I was the one to blame." - T.I.
"Well you know, while I was in the comfy confines of my house for those seven to eight months, I spent a little more time on the computer, on the Web sites, reading blogs and opinions about whether or not T.I. was a real lyricist, whether or not I can be considered among the elite in hip-hop. I just started scratching my head, like, 'Where have these people been?' I'm just wondering, like, 'What don't they remember about me? Have I been gone this long?' And so 'I'm Illy' was born from those thoughts." - T.I.
"What's Your Name"
"I think that was [artist id="1242768"]Pharrell[/artist] [who] came up with that. I just told them that that record was meant for me. And he was like, 'Let's see what you've got. Let's do it.' And then we both loved it. Pharrell has always been one of the people I can go in the studio with and come up with something that I would have never gotten from anyone else. There's a few people along my career that I had the pleasure of working with, that give me something I couldn't have gotten nowhere else and Pharrell is one of them." - T.I.
"Life of the Party"
"I did [this song] for T.I. vs. T.I.P. and it was basically done for the purpose of me letting people feel how I feel when I go places and can't have a good time because I'm bombarded by people trying to do this, trying to ask that, trying to take pictures ... and I am just trying to [enjoy myself]. I didn't want to come to the club anyway, but since my old lady wanted to come, I came out and here I am telling her why I wanted to stay home. That's what that record is about." - T.I.
"I Still Luv You"
"Man, 'I Still Luv You' had a few different messages. I mean, a lot of different things was going on in my life at that time. For one, I had ended a long-term relationship with my first two sons' mom. That relationship came to an end abruptly when she found out about the birth of my first daughter and that kind of finalized that for me. Yeah, when she found out, I didn't tell her. No, I walked downstairs and they both were sitting there one day. Yeah, I was a stinker back then. So one verse was dedicated to my sons' mom, one verse was dedicated to my daughter, and the last was dedicated to my pops, 'cause he had just died." - T.I.
"Respect This Hustle"
"That's T.I. vs. T.I.P. and ... if I'm not mistaken, it's T.I. telling T.I.P. to respect his hustle. Or vice versa. It's the two personalities, the two personas of myself telling the other, 'Just let me do me. Don't worry so much about what I do, just stay out my way and let me do my thing.' T.I. telling T.I.P., 'Let me shine while I'm shining, let me do what I got to do to keep us paid and you just keep us from getting in trouble.' " - T.I.
"When I first heard this joint, I immediately thought, 'That UGK, 8Ball and MJG sound is back!' I was still playing records at the time ... so I was super hype to play this record in the club. I was killin' the clubs at the time. At the club called Shadows, I would always get on 'round 2 a.m. and get right to the street bangers and this joint was in my set heavy!" - DJ Don Cannon
"What You Know About That"
"The first time I heard it, we were on the tour bus during the Urban Legend Tour. It was during then that Tip and DJ Toomp had gone in for a couple [of tracks]. Tip let me hear it on the bus and I remember thinking, 'You got one. This is one.' At that time, I think that professionally, he still was kind of was looking to top his success so far. Urban Legend was a platinum album and 'Bring 'Em Out' was a huge song, but I think personally and professionally, he felt he was in that top notch now. He was in that elite class and now that he was there with the rest of the big boys, he wanted to show he was the biggest one — the biggest dog out." - DJ Drama
"I first heard this on the Net. It leaked before the Urban Legend LP actually came out. I was shocked. I was rocking with it though, because he was keeping it 100 with the content and I had experienced a similar situation. The Pharrell collab showed that he had stepped his game up and was able to go in with the best and come out on top. The record did well on the streets and on mixtapes." - DJ Scream
"Look What I Got"
"This was one of the many T.I. street classics. It never got big radio play but it killed the clubs and made Tip one step closer to becoming what he is today. Overall, you can never go wrong [playing] that record in the club ... Tip showed crazy swag on that one." - DJ Holiday
"Help Is Coming"
"When I heard 'Help Is Coming,' it was at a listening session Grand Hustle had at the studio for T.I. vs. T.I.P. and I thought Tip's flow was crazy. And he was lettin' people know that with record sales being low and the lack of quality music, he gonna bring it every time no matter what hip-hop is going through. At this time, Tip was already a superstar, so everything he was talking about he could back it up." - DJ Infamous
For other artists featured in Mixtape Monday, check out Mixtape Mondays Headlines.