Hip-hop is made up of a number of subgenres and wide-ranging sounds, from thought-provoking conscious rap to drama-filled gangsta rap. T.I., it should come as no surprise, is a fan of the latter.
But lately, the King of the South feels his beloved gangsta rap is on its death bed — that is, until he dropped his Trouble Man: Heavy Is the Head album.
"The main thing I noticed was that there was a shortage of gangsta sh--. That's what I came into the game admiring, and that was the genre I wanted to dominate: gangsta rap music," Tip told The Source magazine in the upcoming February/March issue, appearing on the cover with a hardened stare.
When T.I. first dropped his debut album, I'm Serious, in 2001, few rap fans outside Tip's native Atlanta knew what trap music was, but by the time he dropped his second LP two years later, he had coined the phrase and set off a subgenre driven by wild drug tales and frantic Southern-fried beats. Now, 10 years after dropping his table-setting Trap Muzik LP, T.I. has softened his tone considerably, starring in a clean-cut reality show with his wife ("T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle"). Of course, his 2007 gun arrest had plenty to do with the change in his public persona.
Musically, though, T.I. made a valiant return to his roots with Trouble Man, thanks to songs like the DJ Toomp-produced "Trap Back Jumpin' " and the Hot Boys-inspired "Ball" with Lil Wayne.
"I felt like my genre was dying, you know? If not dying, extremely injured, in critical condition like a m'f---a," Tip said of his mind state when recording the LP, which dropped in December. "It just made me anxious to get out and do something to re-energize the soul of what we grew up listening to."
Gangsta rap aside, T.I. also spoke to the mag about his role as Julian in the comedy "Identity Thief" with Jason Bateman. "Different people see T.I. in different ways. As long as they ain't giving me a rapper. That's what I don't want to do," he said of his Hollywood hopes. "Anything else, I'd pretty much be open minded within reason of course."
Do you think T.I. helped revitalize gangsta rap with Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head? Let us know in the comments!