ATLANTA — The lore of T.I. continued to grow in the last few days. On Saturday night, he had all of Atlanta talking about his dramatic stage performance during Hot 107.9's annual monster-mash concert, the Birthday Bash 9. He shocked cheering fans at the HiFi Buys Amphitheatre who thought he was in jail, and later added another surprise — he ignited a lyrical beef with fellow third-coast superstar, Houston's Lil' Flip.
The day before the concert, T.I. made national headlines and he didn't have to step one foot outside of jail — a female inmate at the Fulton County, Georgia, correctional facility escaped on Thursday while he was filming a small production in the same jail. Although officials say that the jailbreak is not connected to T.I., spokespeople for the prison have publicly denied that T.I.'s shoot was sanctioned and are investigating. The rapper, although not saying much, says he did no wrong.
"I ain't at liberty to speak on that," T.I. said on Saturday about the incident at Fulton County Jail. "Let's just say I ain't broke no laws, ain't no legal repercussions coming my way. I ain't done nothing wrong."
These days T.I. is working on "the buddy system" in full accordance with the law. He refuses to elaborate on the exact terms of his work-release program, but he does say he'll be free of his obligations by the end of the summer.
On March 30, T.I. turned himself in to authorities because of charges of parole violation. Despite going into lockdown at the height of his career while his biggest record ever, "Rubber Band Man," was wreaking havoc, the Bankhead, Georgia, native says he was willing to accept his judgment and was ready for his life to progress.
"I knew it wasn't going to be a lengthy period of time," he said on Friday at Atlanta's Patchwork studios about going to jail earlier this spring. "I knew it was just a small situation that had to be taken care of. Some dirt that needed to be swept under the rug and something that I just needed to handle so I could move forward and get on with my life."
When news first broke about T.I. being in prison, reports said that he would be doing a possible three years (see " 'Rubber Band Man' Rapper T.I. Gets Three Years In Prison"). This had some of his detractors celebrating his downfall. One MC in particular T.I. has chosen to single out is Lil' Flip, who, along with T.I., has been heralded as one of the forerunners of the new generation of Southern MCs.
|T.I. "Birthday Bash" photos|
"Basically the origins of this ain't beef, it's filet mignon to me," T.I. said on his tour bus on the way to the Birthday Bash concert. "He poses no threat to my health. Anytime he wants to see me, I have an open invitation. When I was gone, he made some comments. He saw fit to take shots at me while I was down. At his shows in Atlanta, he would ask people who was the king of the South. When my name was brought up — rightfully so — he said, 'OK, well tell T.I. I said game over.' "
Lil' Flip said T.I.'s allegations are coming from nowhere. He denied ever dissing T.I. publicly or in the studio and said the most he's said about T.I. was in a freestyle line: "I ride 24s like T.I."
"You know me, dawg. My career has been built off of straight rhyming," Flip said Monday (June 21). He even chuckled that T.I. would bring out pictures of him dressed in a leprechaun outfit, bragging, "I got $10 a disc for [my Leprechaun album.]"
The freestyle king said the only king of the South is Scarface and that T.I.'s dis was just for attention.
"I ain't have to dis nobody to get where I'm at," Flip continued. "But if it come to me, I'mma deal with it accordingly. He just got out of jail, so I guess he's been watching too much 'Oz.' He's pumped up."
T.I. said he heard about Flip's alleged comments from several sources and even has a recording of the remarks.
"I got you on tape," T.I. continued on the bus, holding up an old picture of Flip dressed in a leprechaun outfit. The photo was blown up and placed on several poster boards that read "Game Over???" which T.I.'s crew was holding. "You's a sucka, man! You sweet on the inside and even sweeter on the outside. I am not letting up on your ass, boy! You shouldn't have tried me, man. I gotta shut you down, pimp! You have been faking for entirely too long. The game over? Yes, the game is over ... For you, that is!" Upon his bus' arrival at the amphitheater, T.I.'s mood was on the upswing as Lil Scrappy, 8Ball and MJG, Kanye West, Killer Mike and Lil Jon all came up to show him love. After barely five minutes backstage, T.I., dressed in an orange jail suit, was told it was showtime.
"They say I've been gone for a long time," he told the cheering crowd. "Y'all welcoming me back? I'mma welcome y'all back to the trap," he said and started freestyling over Mase's beat for "Welcome Back."
"Everybody thought I was locked up and would miss the Birthday Bash," he told the crowd after he rapped. "Are y'all crazy? Ain't no jail can hold me, n---a!"
T.I. kept the crowd into his energized set with a performance of his classic "Dope Boyz," and he even brought it up to date with his guest verse from Memphis Bleek's "Round Here."
Then the bomb dropped.
He was given word that Lil' Flip, who was also on the bill but missed his plane and arrived late, was finally in the building. He challenged Flip to come out on the stage and tell him to his face who the king of the South was, then proceeded with another freestyle. (Flip's manager said that the security and radio-station personnel did not allow the freestyle king to take T.I. up on his offer.)
"Pu--- n---a I'm the leader of the troops, you just following suit," T.I. rapped while the crowd yelled "ooh" like kids in the school yard overhearing a snap session. "What kind of n---a take a picture in a leprechaun suit with a lollypop chain and some leprechaun boots?/ ... Being lame is a curse you can never undo."
When T.I. tried to segue into his next record, "Look What I Got," his mic and music were abruptly turned off. Amidst the chaos, the fans started booing and some people even started chanting, "F--- Flip!"
A voice came over the PA system alerting everyone that the Birthday Bash was over. T.I. was prepared to perform several more selections, including "Rubber Band Man" and a couple of records from his upcoming LP, Urban Legend.
Oddly enough, the fiery lyricist didn't have any hard feelings and chalked up his silencing to the show running overtime.
"That's what happens when you're the last one to go on," he said as he left the stage.