Happy Birthday, T.I.!
Although the South is in the middle of a renaissance with Young Thug and Future leading the charge, T.I., better known as Tip these days, has still maintained his OG status through his mid-30s, a prison sentence and a name change. The rapper formerly known as T.I. turns 35 years old today (Sept. 25).
Like OutKast before him but not on the same scale, Tip proved that the South had a lyrical side to compliment its rhythmic leanings. At his best, Tip blended both sides to infectious effect. Trap Musik's "Rubber Band Man," for example, was cohesive mix of joy and grit. The album itself is considered a modern classic by some after it became Tip's first release to go platinum. "Bring Em Out," another anthem, helped push Urban Legend platinum status.
However, Tip couldn't stay out of legal trouble. He had to do a bid for pleading guilty to a federal weapons charge. Instead of getting depressed, Tip made a successful push at the mainstream during the Paper Trail era. He linked up with golden boy Justin Timberlake for "Dead and Gone," solo cut "Whatever You Like" and the Rihanna-featured "Live Your Life." Each of those songs hit the Billboard charts at No. 2, No. 1 and No. 1, respectively. That's an impressive achievement for someone who came from the trap. It might be the best pre-prison push since Me Against the World.
Tip never reached that level of success, but he's relevant because he's a charismatic figure -- a combination of wisdom and masculinity. He drops knowledge on reality television and will get into a fist fight with a boxer to defend his wife. Tip is perhaps one of hip-hop's most underrated joys.
Thankfully, his next album, The Dime Trap, is due later this year.
Watch T.I.'s "Check, Run It" Video
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