At this time last year, [artist id="1225081"]T.I.[/artist] was counting down the days to his release to a halfway house after winding down a prison term on gun possession charges. But another Christmas is about to pass and the King of the South (born Clifford Harris) will again celebrate from behind prison bars in an Arkansas lockup, where he's in the midst of an 11-month sentence for violating his probation.
With his latest album, No Mercy, out on Tuesday (December 7), Tip released a letter (posted to his website the same day) updating fans on his state of mind and reflecting on where he's been, where he hopes to go and what he's thinking about.
"So here it is...NO MERCY, the most honest and intimate installment of my life story as promised," he wrote of the album, recorded earlier this year as he was preparing to leave the halfway house and get back to his career after nine months behind bars.
"Hope y'all enjoy it and it lives up to the very high standards I've set for myself or anyone who's to be considered one of the best. I must admit it takes a lot to go through as much as I have and still keep the love in your heart and in your art. But at the end of the day, if that's what it takes to produce the music that keeps the world of hip-hop evolving on it's axis....Then even the lowest of the lows of my life was all worth it. Thanks again for your prayers, your time and attention. And remember....It doesn't matter how long it'll be before the next time you see me. What matters is that I'll be a better man before that time comes. The longer I sit, the smarter I get."
Last month, the Atlanta MC penned a note in which he admitted he was tired of being in and out of prison. In this one, T.I. thanked fans who've been writing to him and lifting his spirits every day; he assured them he reads all of their missives and cherishes their kind words. And while he admitted he could never write them all back (though, at the end of the post, he included a long list of people who'd sent him letters), he gave them a collective shout-out.
"It's a relief to know that there still are people who see a man with a life and not just another headline in the news," he said. "Most of you sound very concerned and optimistic at the same time about my situation. Let me assure you all that I am definitely keeping my head up. I don't consider myself done by far. Also many of you are convinced as I am that God has a plan for me that he's preparing me for. How do you tell God Almighty that all you wanna do is LIVE LIFE ??? What if all you wanna do is be a father to your kids, a husband to your wife, and son to your mother while providing insightful motivation through music and lending a helping hand when possible to those who need it most. Well guys...That's the topic of discussion between me and the MOST HIGH at the moment. I'll keep you posted on how it turns out."
He added that maybe he'd try to capture that dialogue between him and a higher power on his next album, putting those heavy internal discussions to music. In the meantime, Tip promised to reveal the title of the follow-up to No Mercy soon and encouraged his supporters to hang in there.
What do you think of T.I.'s latest letter? Tell us in the comments.