T.I. at Trilogy Studios in San Francisco. Photo by Matt Crawford.

It’s been two years since your last album, Mercy debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard charts. Before that, King, T.I. vs. T.I.P and Paper Trail all hit No. 1. Are you looking for redemption with this album?

All things considered, I was in prison during the time of its release. I never had a chance to promote and properly work the album like I am now. If this comes out at No. 4, then we should start scratching our heads.

Does this release feel different for you?

Yeah, it feels a lot less stressful. Even with Paper Trail, I couldn’t completely focus on music because I had this gray cloud over my head. I worked hard and I received an exceptional amount of success, but it didn’t feel the same or as good because I knew there was a huge cloud of negativity looming over me. I feel free—in a literal sense, as well. There is nowhere to go but up.

It’s not even about the success, it’s about living life and being able to appreciate the fact that I’m able to do what I’m able to do and feed my family off of it. I’m still here and I’m still relevant. It’s awesome.

Do you think your legal problems and incarceration did more to help your career or hurt it?

I think it was an equal share. I think it made me bigger than I was and it also took away opportunities. It kept me from taking advantage of things I could have benefited from in ways that would have been extremely lucrative. If I had a choice, I would do it the opposite.

It probably would have saved some heartache.

Definitely. You can’t pay for peace of mind.

You recently talked about slowing down with your music career. Why would you do that now after all the hits we just talked about?

At the time, I was just coming home and things were so extremely different. The reasons I got into the game didn’t exist any more and the integrity of doing this shit had dwindled. Every time I would see some dumb shit on the computer that’s done in the name of hip-hop, some of that made me feel like, ‘What the fuck am I doing here? I shouldn’t be associated with this.’ At the end of the day, I had to live and accept the changes. Some shit I can fuck with, some shit I can’t.

Do you think it’s too easy now with technology for some artist who can post one video and have 1 million views in a week?

I’m not going to say it’s too easy because it still requires proper application of skills. Execution is mandatory; it doesn’t matter how much talent you have. It’s easier than it’s ever been, but I still don’t think it’s too easy. To achieve success, that shit is extremely challenging.

Pages: 1 2 3