One of the things that may have spurred a judge to send T.I. back to prison this week was the allegation that the King of the South was riding with a convicted felon on the night the rapper's car was pulled over in Los Angeles in September.
Along with testing positive for opiates — a no-no under the provisions of Tip's probation on a 2007 federal weapons charge — as a felon himself, the Atlanta MC was not allowed to associate with known felons.
That got us wondering about whether probationary conditions could restrict some potential post-prison musical collaborations for T.I. (born Clifford Harris).
According to New York lawyer Scott Leemon, in some cases it definitely can. "However, I know in my cases, at the time of sentencing, I have gotten the judge to authorize incidental felonious contact for business purposes," said Leemon, who has worked with rappers including 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, Tony Yayo, Remy Ma and Lloyd Banks. "Usually, it is no big deal as long as the contact is for real legitimate reasons."
The key, he told MTV News, is to get any collabos between artists with probationary conditions pre-approved by the court so the client's probation officer knows going into the supervision period that it is OK with the court.
While T.I.'s attorneys did not return calls for comment, lawyers for another rapper who has just wrapped up a bid in prison, Lil Wayne, said his just-completed eight-month sentence and an upcoming probationary period on another case should not bar the studio-addicted Weezy from hooking up with anyone and everyone. T.I. and Wayne famously appeared on Tip's Grammy-nominated ensemble cut "Swagga Like Us," along with Jay-Z and Kanye West, in 2008.
"He can travel and carry on with his music career," said Wayne's Arizona lawyer, James Tilson. Thanks to Wayne's three years of unsupervised probation in an Arizona drug case, Tilson said the MC (born Dwayne Carter) should have no problem working on tracks with anyone and everyone he wants to.
Wayne's New York lawyer, Stacey Richman, said the same goes following her client's release on Thursday from New York's Rikers Island Prison for a sentence related to an attempted gun possession charge. "In New York, there are no probationary terms," said Richman, noting that as a result of the plea deal Wayne cut in the case, he was free and clear the moment he left the prison early Thursday morning.
Richman also said that in a case like T.I.'s, the court can adjust probationary conditions to allow an artist to continue doing their work. Then again, she added, "the state can also say you can't have anything to do with your own brother."
Stick with MTV News throughout the weekend for up-to-the-minute reports on Lil Wayne's prison release as we follow him from Rikers Island to his celebrations at home and beyond. Follow us on Twitter @MTVNews for instant updates and bookmark weezywatch.mtv.com for complete, round-the-clock coverage.