Rapper T.I. has often proclaimed himself "The King of the South." Well, a city in the southern U.S. has saluted him with a major honor. The Grand Hustle CEO was honored with the key to Jackson, Miss., on Wednesday (Sept. 24).

Tip was in town to talk with local students at several high schools about the importance of education. According to Clarion-Ledger, the Atlanta native told students at Forest Hill School that education is an investment towards their future.

"There is no easy way; you have to work hard and to prepare yourself," he said.

Afterwards, T.I. appeared at a ceremony where he was presented with the key to the city by Mayor Tony Yarber.

There has been some controversy surrounding the honor. Critics argued that giving a key to the city to a convicted felon sends the wrong message to young adults.

T.I. addressed the issue during his acceptance speech. The 'No Mediocre' rhymer acknowledged his criminal past, however, he added that his past doesn't define who he is as a person.

"I can't change everyone's opinion of me," he told the crowd. "But I can change me."

"I don't need no credit," he added. "Just knowing that I can use my past -- good and bad -- to help assist the future, the children, the teenagers, the young adults and the grown people who may have gone through the same thing. And they can have an example showing them that just because they fell down in something doesn't mean they have to stay down in it."

T.I. finally told the crowd that he will continue to work with the mayor to help better the city of Jackson, Miss.

"If you want something different you must do something different, if you want something better you must do things better," he said. "The mayor told me he name it the bold new city, therefore, he must want some bold new improvements. And I'm proud to be a part of that."