What We Discuss with T.I.:
- Why T.I. went from selling candy to selling crack as a teenager, and how he turned away from a life of crime to pursue a life of rhyme.
- How does an award-winning rapper, actor, entrepreneur, family man, philanthropist, author, activist, and podcast host celebrate a landmark birthday?
- T.I.’s world-tested secrets to releasing an album and filming an unauthorized music video while serving time in prison.
- How T.I. walks the line between excess and moderation when it comes to everything from music to jewelry to tequila.
- Does T.I. feel tension between setting a good example for kids and community, and staying on top of the rap game?
- And much more…
Like this show? Please leave us a review here — even one sentence helps! Consider including your Twitter handle so we can thank you personally!
T.I. (aka Tip Harris) has been a staple in the hip-hop and trap game for the past 15 years. He’s an acclaimed innovator with millions of albums and more than 35 million singles sold, and he’s won three Grammy Awards, 11 Billboard Awards, three BET Awards, two American Music Awards, and more over the years. He’s worked with Drake, Beyoncé, Pharrell, Rihanna, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Robin Thicke, M.I.A., Lady Gaga, and other icons. He’s also an author, an actor, and now a podcaster with his own show, expediTIously, at PodcastOne.
On this episode we explore the tension between setting a good example for kids and community, and staying on top of the rap game. We also dive into T.I.’s past as a drug dealer and his uneasy relationship with the authorities, and now his focus on community service and activism. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll down for Full Show Notes, Featured Resources, and Transcript!
Does your business have an Internet presence? Save up to a whopping 62% on new webhosting packages with HostGator at hostgator.com/jordan!
Great protection. Fair prices. Easy to use. SimpliSafe is the right way to protect your home at half the size and double the range — go to SimpliSafe.com/jordan to learn more!
Uniform by Everlane is a collection of men’s basics that actually last, and look and fit great — rigorously tested to simulate a full year of washing and wear. Get free shipping on your first Uniform order at everlane.com/jordan!
Equal Parts gets you into the rhythm of the kitchen with friendly and inviting cookware, coaching, and guidance — all with free shipping and free returns. Visit equalparts.com and get $50 off any cookware kit over $200 with code JORDAN at checkout!
Better Help offers affordable, online counseling at your convenience. If you’re coping with depression, stress, anxiety, addiction, or any number of issues, you’re not alone. Talk with a licensed professional therapist for 10 percent off your first month at betterhelp.com/jordan!
If you enjoyed this session with T.I., let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com.
Resources from This Episode:
- ExpediTIously with Tip “T.I.” Harris, PodcastOne
- Rhythm + Flow, Netflix
- T.I. at Discogs
- T.I. at IMDB
- T.I. at Instagram
- T.I. at Facebook
- T.I. at Twitter
- Whatever You Like by T.I.
- Don Julio
- Rapper T.I. Pleads Guilty to Gun Charges, Los Angeles Times
- How to Conduct Discovery for Your Court Case, All Business
- Downward & Upward Departure in Sentencing, The Forensic Panel
- Revolt Summit Panel “Trap the Vote: Hip Hop & Politics” Brought Major Topics to the Forefront — And It Got Heated, Revolt
- LL Cool J at Twitter
- N.W.A’s ‘Straight Outta Compton’: 12 Things You Didn’t Know, Rolling Stone
- Too $hort at Twitter
- The Wire
- T.I.’s 5 Worst Arrests And Convictions, Prefix
- Jason Geter at Twitter
- DJ Toomp at Instagram
- Patchwerk Recording Studios
- P.A. (Group), Wikipedia
- Organized Noize
- You’re Mine by Reese Featuring MC Slow Mello Flo
- No Mercy by T.I.
- Two Posthumous Tupac Albums Are Reportedly in the Works, Hot New Hip Hop
- Rapper T.I. Shoots Unauthorized Video in Fulton Jail While Serving Time at Cobb County, Music Slam
- Birthday Bash, Hot 107.9
- What Up, What’s Haapnin’? by T.I.
- The Pledge of Allegiance, USHistory.org
- Colin Kaepernick: ‘There’s Nothing That Anybody Is Going to Say That’s Going to Change How I Feel about These Issues’ The Undefeated
- Louis Farrakhan, Wikipedia
- People Ate Pork in the Middle East Until 1,000 B.C. — What Changed? Smithsonian Magazine
- Does Coca-Cola Coax Worms Out of Pork? Snopes
- The Race Riot That Destroyed Tulsa’s Black Wall Street, BWS
- D.L. Hughley at Twitter
- History of the Federal Use of Eminent Domain, US Dept. of Justice
- Section 8 (Housing), Wikipedia
- Trap Music Museum
- Jeezy at Twitter
- Gucci Mane at Twitter
- 2 Chainz at Twitter
- Future at Twitter
- Yo Gotti at Twitter
- Nipsey Hussle, Wikipedia
Transcript for Tip “T.I.” Harris | ExpediTIously Expressive (Episode 262):
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:00] Your parole officer must have been like, “Oh, great. He’s got a record deal. He’s going to be back at the airport in like a month and a half. You are on thin ice, man.”
T.I.: [00:00:08] I mean to be honest with you, he didn’t find out that I wasn’t at the airport until I told him.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:11] He still thinks you work at the airport! Like, “I see this rap guy my kids listen to, he looks familiar. Looks like that guy that works at the airport!”
T.I.: [00:00:18] “Where’s Harris? Get this Harris file.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:21] Welcome to the show. I’m Jordan Harbinger. As always, I’m here with producer Jason DeFillippo. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world’s most brilliant and interesting people and turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you.[00:00:41] Today, T.I. or Tip Harris has been a staple in the hip-hop and trap game for the past 15 years. He’s an acclaimed innovator with millions of albums sold, more than 35 million singles. He’s been awarded three Grammys, 11 Billboard, three BET Awards, two American Music Awards, and more all throughout the years. He’s worked at Drake, Beyoncé, Pharrell Rihanna, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Robin Thicke, M.I.A., and Lady Gaga, among other icons. Today on the show, we explore the tension between setting a good example for kids and community and staying on top and relevant in the rap game. We also dive into T.I.’s past as a drug dealer and his uneasy relationship with the authorities, and now his focus on community service and activism. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this one as much as I did and I’m glad we made it happen because it was a really good time in an interesting conversation. Or maybe that’s the tequila talking — you be the judge of that. [00:01:35] if you want to know how I managed to book all these great folks and manage my relationships using systems and tiny habits in six minutes a day or there about. Check out our Six-Minute Networking course. It’s free. It’s over at jordanharbinger.com/course and by the way, most of the guests on the show, they subscribed to the course and the newsletter. So come join us, you’ll be in great company. Okay, here’s T.I. [00:01:57] Authenticity is big in hip hop culture. Like that’s a whole thing and I know you’ve mentioned that a bunch actually yourself. What do you think about hip-hop going from a lot of truth untold stories of the people who perform it and things like that and now there’s a lot of flashy braggy stuff? I like the watch. I think it’s dope, but there’s a lot of guys, they only talk about the watch. That’s all they got.
T.I.: [00:02:18] Well, I think for one hip-hop has become so expensive. It’s grown and evolved into an amoeba of things. So I think that there is a place for that, although that place may not be in my particular library of music on a normal basis. But then again, there are some times where I feel like that kind of energy will kind of suit the mood of the evening for me. I don’t necessarily share in it. I just know it has to be done, it has to be can do enjoyed within moderation. It’s not there to lead, direct, and inspire the culture but it is there to entertain. It is there to, I guess, enlighten. It’s there for aspiration. Now if you’re talking about a bunch of jewelry, and your jewelry is fake, however, that is something I would have a very, very, very genuine disdain for.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:19] Although it is very practical. Like that diamond right there, you might want to have a fake one of those just in case somebody lifts that from you.
T.I.: [00:03:24] No, I just have Insurance on this one.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:25] Okay, that’s good. That makes sense, too.
T.I.: [00:03:29] I mean these things are just things. I feel like these things are just things and that they’re ornaments of sorts. And along the way, I have afforded myself certain items of luxury that most people from a practicality standpoint may feel like, “Yo, this is excessive,” and maybe they’re right. However, I know people who may not have even made as much money as me who have far more. I tread the line between excessive and moderation.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:03] Yeah, speaking of moderation. I saw them lay out tequila and snacks for you out there, and I said, “What? You do that for T.I. and I don’t get any?” I don’t get any snacks!
T.I.: [00:04:12] Did you request any?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:14] No, but now it makes sense. “Sorry if you don’t get it. You don’t ask, you don’t get.”
T.I.: [00:04:19] You get 100% of nothing that you ask for.
Jordan Harbinger: That’s true. Although I did notice that it’s Don Julio. What happened to Patron on ice?
T.I.: [00:04:29] You know, at the time I made that I couldn’t really drink. It was part of my pre-sentencing bond restriction. Part of that was not drinking. So Patron sounded like just as good of a drink as any, but now that I can drink and I really, really care about how something tastes and if I would like it and the quality of it, I myself prefer 1942 over a bottle of Blanco Patron.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:02] What time do you usually start? Should we do one right now?
T.I.: [00:05:11] Oh, yeah! Absolutely! There’s no time limit. That’s the best thing about not having a boss. You can turn up in any given moment.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:16] I’m making some notes here. I got to have deeper entourage, snacks on deck, and Don Julio.
T.I.: [00:05:22] This is the thing though: you can’t just go and take everything against face value. You got to dig beneath the surface. I do have an entourage. I have some people with me, but all of them serve a purpose. So you must have a purpose for entourage. Everybody must have an obligation to task or duty or responsibility. You just can’t have people running around sucking up your budget of expenses for nothing.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:41] That makes sense. So all these guys are ROI positives, somehow.
T.I.: [00:05:45] Yes. Absolutely.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:46] What do they do? Like, I mean, they’re nice.
T.I.: [00:05:49] I have a photographer there. I have my assistant there. I have my cousin, who is also an artist there. I have my co-branding marketing strategist there. I believe, is there security in there? There may be a security guy there.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:04] They all look like they could be security though.
T.I.: [00:06:06] Nah, but they’re not though. There’s only one guy designated for security. And even him, if he don’t have a firearm, they start shooting, he’s going to be running with the rest of us.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:14] That’s right! No kidding. No kidding. Yeah. I feel you there. You’re no stranger to that though. You dropped out of high school, spent early years as a drug dealer, arrested several times before you turned 14, which actually to me is insane. You’re not doing that for street cred at age 12, 13, 14 years old.
T.I.: [00:06:34] No, that was kind of like a means to an end. I was moreso a victim of circumstance, a product of my environment at that moment in time.[00:06:42] [The tequila has arrived!]
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:51] So you’re victim of circumstance.
T.I.: [00:06:53] I don’t want to call myself a victim. Let’s say a product of circumstance, product of my environment. I’m a refugee of the War on Drugs.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:02] Refugee as in it came to you.
T.I.: [00:07:03] Exactly, it was brought to me. I am a survivor of the crack era. I feel like anyone who came up when I came up who lived where I lived like, for the most part, 99% of us, we got in the mix because that’s what it was for us to do. I’m not proud of it, but a lot of the principles and values and morals and code of conduct that I’m praised for today came from those times and those experiences.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:34] Yeah. I know you got your birthday coming up. We’re the same age so I remember —
T.I.: [00:07:40] What? When’s your birthday?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:40] February 26th.
T.I.: [00:07:42] February 26th. You’re at the top of the year.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:43] That’s right.
T.I.: [00:07:44] Okay, cool. So, you’re about to be 39 next year.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:46] I’ll be 40 next year.
T.I.: [00:07:47] You’ll be 40 this February.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:48] That’s right.
T.I. [00:07:48] Good God bless you!
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:50] Thank you. Yeah, I got the baby face.
T.I.: [00:07:53] That’s the thing. On your 39th birthday, what the fuck is there to do? There’s nothing really like to do, so just hold out to next year. You know what I’m saying? There’s no need to have a big bash this year. You’re just going to double down next year.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:05] What are you going to do for your 40th birthday?
T.I.: [00:08:07] It’s going to be extravagant. I don’t really like extravagant parties and stuff like that. I’ve done so many of them and I feel like the more you do next year the more you do. And then the next year the more you do, and you get to a point where the bubble busts. It’s like there’s nothing else to do. I just kind of gave myself a little minute to humble down and just let it neutral out. Now on my 40th, I’m going to do something big. Usually on my birthdays, I do something private for me and the people around me. We might go travel. I’m thinking about south of France or something like that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:42] People there must be like, “What’s happening?” when you roll in with everything from the entourage, the family. People must be like, “Who is that?” all the time.
T.I.: [00:08:52] Sometimes and I always get the thing that they do which is funny to me. They’ll come up to me and they’ll apologize. “I’m sorry. I don’t know who you are.” That’s not your fault. I actually appreciate that I can go somewhere where you can appreciate me for me or whoever or whatever you think I am. I don’t really like people to put on fake faces just because they think that I could be their one shot at success.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:16] “I’m a huge fan!” Oh, really? Of what?
T.I.: [00:09:21] Then people see other people take pictures, like a fan come up and say, “Hey, I love your music. I love your movies. I would love to take a picture,” and I take a picture with them, and then somebody else come up, “Listen. I don’t know who you are, but can I have a picture too.” Why do you want a picture?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:32] “Because I’m going to put it on Instagram and people will be like, ‘Oh, you met Tip!’ and I’ll be like, ‘Oh, that’s who that is.'”
T.I.: [00:09:37] That lacks authenticity. That is why I’m discouraged from doing that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:43] I know you had kind of a weird up and down because you’re supposed to perform at BET Hip Hop Awards, you get popped for like weapons charges hours before and a lot of people go –
T.I.: [00:09:54] October 13th, 2007.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:57] Wow! You still remember the date. At some point, people are like, “This guy can’t get it together. What’s going on here?”
T.I.: [00:10:04] Well, guess what? That present moment in time, they may have been right. But there are a lot of determining factors that were in place that people don’t know about and some people, unless you’re in the know, you still won’t know about.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:18] Well when I heard about that, people go. “Oh, man. What’s this guy doing? He’s he can’t keep it together.” And I think if you’re 27, 28, whatever it was at the time, and you’re buying a bunch of weapons, you probably think that you need them. You’re not doing it for —
T.I.: [0:10:30] Or you’re instructed by people who you put in position for protection that you need. That’s the thing that other people don’t really understand. I don’t want to say coerced by my security at the time to upgrade my level of equipment and every time I upgraded my equipment, he went and purchased it, but he purchased it for much less than he told me that it would cost. So it behooved him to continue to motivate me to buy more equipment. And he said this in his statement. I got my discovery and I read through my discovery and kind of read how the case unfolded. It was really him asking the man at the gun store if he could get the same item for half price under the table. That’s what happened.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:22] So his side hustle was skimming cash off your defense budget.
T.I.: [00:11:26] So he asked the guy that that guy called the ATF. When the ATF gets to him, he tells the ATF, “Well, it’s not for me, it’s for my boss.” I guess the ATF say, “Oh hell yeah, that would be a much better headline.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:40] Yeah, I’m going to get promoted now.
T.I.: [00:11:41] Exactly. Here they come to the Walgreens on the day of the awards.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:46] What I found interesting — oh! Sorry, Amanda.[00:11:48] [Amanda brings the ice! We “pour our own troubles” and take our first sip of tequila.]
T.I.: [00:12:11] I thank you for having me here on your pod. They told me that you have one of the most kick-ass ones around.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:18] They are full of shit, but I appreciate them covering for me. I like that. What I found interesting about this was you get popped for that, but then there’s a plea deal and it’s, “Hey, I need to stay out of prison for one year because I’m mentoring 58 at-risk children.”
T.I.: [00:12:36] No, no, no.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:37] Oh, sorry! At 58 schools.
T.I.: [00:12:39] Yes, it wasn’t me saying “I need to stay-out for a year.” It was them saying, “I’ll tell you what. If you want to earn this downward departure, we will give you one year to complete these tasks while staying completely out of trouble, keeping your nose clean. At the end of that one year, you will come back for sentencing and we will grant your downward departure. You’ll have a year and a day.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00130:07] I mean there’s something massively admirable in that you not only completed that, but you didn’t go, “All right. I’m done with my community service.” You’re involved in politics and civic life now. I saw that Revolt panel with Candace Owens — that went smoothly! What happened there?
T.I.: [00:13:22] Candace has a brilliant mind and she has some formidable concepts. However, I feel that her brilliance has fallen into the wrong hands and it’s being used for the wrong purpose. I just think it’s incredibly damaging and irresponsible to spew the type of rhetoric that she tossed around, but that does not pin me or place me against Candace specifically. I still respect her; I still have love for her. I just said I thought she was on some bullshit at that present moment. That wasn’t our first time meeting. That wasn’t our first discussion. It probably won’t be our last. I just think that if she could use her brilliance for something other than covering for the inaccuracies or just the diabolical intentions of the president, the divisiveness of the president. It’s not even about the Republican party. I don’t have a problem with you being a Republican. I’m not arguing on behalf of the Democratic party. I’m not a Democrat. I’m not a Republican. I’m a rich person from the ghetto. So that’s kind of like an oxymoron. I have Republican interests. I also have Democratic interests because I come from the place where people depend on Democrats to do what they need to do to service the community and if they don’t do that, then we end up in situations like I was in. But the Democrats have also done things that put people in the situation that I was in. However right now, I’m a man with money and there are certain fringe benefits, perks, and things that I could benefit from personally from the Republican party. However, that’s not worth my self-respect. That’s not worth —
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:15] You’re the one that has to go to bed at night.
T.I.: [00:15:16] Absolutely, and more than I want anything for myself, for my children, even for Candace, I want to be on the right side of history. At 25, 30 years from now when we look back, we are going to remember how horrible things were right now, we’re going to remember where everybody stood in this face of adversity. I just don’t want my legacy to be “I just let it happen because it was beneficial for me.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:40] “Yeah! Got a good tax break, didn’t look at it again.” You’ve said, “Most black people, at least where I’m from, we don’t get to go to college, we go to prison.”
T.I.: [00:15:49] Absolutely.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:49] That’s a pretty crappy outlook for somebody growing up in the neighborhood.
T.I.: [00:15:52] Mind you, even though it costs less to send us to college than it does for us to be in prison.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:16:01] You’re listening to the Jordan Harbinger show with our guest, T.I. We’ll be right back.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:06] This episode is sponsored in part by SimpliSafe. Studies are showing that over 10% of break-ins are planned beforehand. The rest are spur of the moment. You’d think people would plan break-ins, Jason, but I guess they’re just walking by looking for somebody to victimize and there you are.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:16:22] Criminals ain’t that smart.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:23] They aren’t. There you are with no security system most break in. Happened between 6 A.M. And 6 P.M. in the middle of the freaking day. Hopefully you’re not home because if you are home, you can scare a burglar. Nobody likes that especially you and the burglar. Well, I guess that everybody involved really but the FBI says the average loss in a burglary is over two grand that can be annoying to recover from. I mean, look, it’s not the money, it’s the fact that some a-hole was in your house going through your stuff. No, that feeling is something you don’t really get over and homes without security systems are 300% more likely to be broken into and that’s just kind of horrifying so you don’t need it’s like you don’t need to outrun the bear. You just need to outrun the person you’re with. You don’t need to have your house set up like Fort Knox. You just have to have a security system that actually works and isn’t defeated by unplugging a phone. SimpliSafe protects every door and window, 24/7 professional monitoring. They’ve got a cellular capability that is not extra its built-in. Everything has its own battery. This isn’t something where like they flipped the breaker and the thing doesn’t work anymore. They’ve won a bunch of awards for this and the monitoring is 15 bucks a month. So, there’s no tricky contracts or any of that involved. This is the security system of the 21st century that makes sense as opposed to go on with the other guys and ending up with like a cordless phone from the 90s that can be defeated with a glass of water and a pair of pliers. Jason.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:17:46] Visit SimpliSafe.com/jordan. You’ll get free shipping in a 60-day risk-free trial. Go now and be sure you go to S-I-M-P-L-I SimpliSafe.com/Jordan, so they know our show sent you. That’s SimpliSafe.com/jordan.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:00] This episode is also sponsored by HostGator.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:18:02] Need to build a new website from scratch, but don’t know where to start, looking to transfer your existing website away from a host who acts like your need for prompt efficient increased customer service is some kind of hostage negotiation. Hoping to dust off that personal website you built from your dorm room back in 98, but you’re designing eye never developed past the chic GeoCities aesthetic of the day, HostGator can get your new website registered in up today. HostGator can transfer your existing website away from the hostage negotiators over to a customer service team who will treat you like royalty or at the very least of valued customer. HostGator can help you overcome your design stunted sensibilities and spruce up that ancient personal website with a wide selection of themes and prebuilt sections. Hell, HostGator can even get you a toe by 3 o’clock this afternoon with nail polish. HostGator is 99.9% uptime guarantee and around-the-clock support ensures your website is available to the eyes of the world every day and night of the year. Got a tight budget, no worries. As long as you’re a new user you get to try any HostGator package for up to 62 percent off the normal price for just hearing the sound of my voice. And if you’re not completely satisfied with everything HostGator has to offer you’ve got 45 days to cancel for a refund of every last penny. Check out hostgator.com/jordan right now to sign up. That’s hostgator.com/Jordan.[00:19:17] Thanks for listening and supporting the show. To learn more and get links to all the great discounts you just heard from our amazing sponsors, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals. Don’t forget we have a worksheet for today’s episode so you can make sure you solidify your understanding of the key takeaways from T.I. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. If you’d like some tips on how to subscribe to the show, just go to jordanharbinger.com subscribe. Subscribing to the show is absolutely free. It just means that you get all of the latest episodes downloaded automatically to your podcast player so you don’t miss a single thing and now back to our show with T.I.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:19:55] You said “Just because I fell in something, it doesn’t mean I have to stay down in it.” You’ve got, obviously, a lot of upward mobility or that you saw within yourself. When you were that age where you thinking, “I’m just going to sell drugs for a while then I’m going to become a famous musician.”
T.I.: [00:20:09] Well to be perfectly candid with you, that’s exactly what I was thinking!
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:12] Really? At what age, though?
T.I.: [00:20:14] I started rapping at about age eight or nine in third grade and then I was just doing it like —
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:20] How? Who was your inspiration back then?
T.I.: [00:20:22] Actually LL Cool J, N.W.A., Too Short — the most provocative, the most prolific voices at that time.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:31] I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to cut you off. You were saying —
T.I.: [00:20:32] Not at all.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:32] That was the plan the whole time?
T.I.: [00:20:34] That was the plan. I was going to sell drugs until I earned myself the opportunity or found my way to the opportunity to become a musician or an artist.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:43] How did you even find out about crack? It’s all around you, but somebody must have been like —
T.I.: [00:20:48] I used to sell candy, so I’m an entrepreneur by nature. I started off at fourth grade selling candy because I used to travel from Atlanta to New York to visit my father every summer. The end of every summer, my dad would give me maybe $300, $400 and some school clothes, send me back home to live with my mama. My mama lived in the ghetto with Section 8, food stamps, and welfare. So I knew that I had to stretch these $300, $400 until Christmas when I’d see my dad again and get another bankroll. So what way could I do that? The only thing that I thought, there was a candy lady in my neighborhood in my apartment. No matter what apartments we moved to, there was always a candy lady. But when I went to school, there was no candy person. So I figure, “Hey, I’ll take the same principles of the candy lady and I just go to school and I’ll make me $20 a day, that’ll be $100 a week, and there’s $400 a month,” and that ought to stretch me from September to December.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:42] $20 is a lot of candy. It’s like a ton of candy.
T.I.: [00:21:45] It is, it is.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:46] And then you saw the margins on crack and then —
T.I.: [00:21:48] I had an operation. By the time I got to sixth grade, my candy operation had evolved to where I had other people working for me, three or four lockers, people selling candy for me on different hallways and I might have made $300, $400 a week.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:01] This business model does sound familiar for anybody who’s watched The Wire or grew up in your neighborhood.
T.I.: [00:22:05] $300, $400, maybe $500 a week and I’m walking to my bus stop and I see an older gentleman who was probably in high school, we used to throw the football around every now and again, so I knew who he was, but I also knew he didn’t ride my bus. I was questioning him like, “What you doing out here right now?” And he’s like, “Yo, I’m hustling,” and I was like, “What do you mean?” And that’s when he introduced me to crack. He had what you call breakdown dimes. Breakdown dimes is if you buy for $10, you supposed to be able to break it in two or three pieces, and make $20 or $30 out of $10. Those profit margins, that’s 200% profit. I’m into that. So that very day, I took $50 and bought me five breakdown dimes and broke them in half. I made a $100 before I got back home.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:46] I can certainly understand the appeal of that. How did you switch from the life of crime to the life of rhyme? Oh, my God. I hate myself right now!
T.I.: [00:22:58] It makes perfect sense, as cliché as it may sound, it makes perfect sense. But what happened was I gave my team an ultimatum. I found out my girlfriend at that time was pregnant with my oldest son. I had just gotten out of a case where I escaped with seven years of probation. It was a crack case, possession with intent to distribute, in 1997. The case was resolved in ’98, but I found out she was pregnant and I had no real means to support —
Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:28] Can’t support a kid on candy sales.
T.I.: [00:23:29] I was completely out of school at the time. However, what I told myself was, okay for these eight months, I’m just going to dive into a covert operation man, go balls to the wall with the game, just knock me up maybe about 30, 40, 50 thousand dollars and I’d be able to fall back. Make sure my child has everything that he needs and get myself somewhat stable and safe to stay. And then I’d be able to fall back and maybe I could figure it out from there. So that was my plan. Simultaneously a team that I had assembled, become a part of, I should say, and that team consisted of Jason Geter, who has been my partner and he was my manager for a long period of time, DJ Toomp, who produced a lot of my initial hits and help me introduce trap music to the world, and my cousin Tramel — Tramel is no longer with us, God bless his soul. We were a team; we planned to go in the studio. We had been working on a demo to shop around and it was phenomenal stuff, but we just hadn’t got it in the right person’s hands as of yet. And they found out what I was doing because I didn’t tell them of my plans, so they found out what I was doing, so they called me into somewhat of an intervention and they said, “Hey, listen, we’re investing our time, effort, energy, and resources into you and you are jeopardizing that investment by taking the risk that you’re taking. You’re on probation. If you get caught doing what you’re doing — you’re already on seven years of probation — you’ll be gone for seven years and everything’s down the drain.” I said, “Yes, but I have a child on the way and a child ain’t going to look up and see my efforts. He’s going to see what we have or what we don’t have. So if you could take me somewhere right now where I can have an opportunity to present myself to somebody that can actually give me a record deal, then I’ll stop.” Everybody sad, “Well that’s not realistic.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:18] That’s not how it works!
T.I.: [00:25:19] That’s not how it works. Then Jason said, “I know somewhere.” And I say, “See, that’s why we are on the team together.” So basically, he took me to a studio that he interned for, it’s a studio in Atlanta called Patchwerk. In that studio, he just happened to hear — overhear — conversations from the group P.A., who was a part of Organized Noize and the Dungeon Family, but they were working on their own project and they were just like saying that they were looking for new talent. And he called up there. He said, “Hey, I got somebody who’s harder than anybody that y’all got on your album right now, and anybody that you have seen in recent history.” And they said, “Well, bring him up.” So we pull up, we walk in, and I look around, I’m like, “Damn.” It was eerily close to where I sold dope. It was maybe three miles away, but I’d never been here and I didn’t know about it. So when I walk in and look around, I’m like, “God damn — ”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:13] Right under your nose the whole time.
T.I.: [00:26:14] What? How did I not know about this? Jason walked me in the room and then immediately I meet Reese and Mello. They asked me questions, just like you know, where you from, what you do, who am I, what do I represent, so on and so forth. I guess they kind of put me on the spot. They said. “Can you rap to this beat?”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:32] Oh, no pressure.
T.I.: [00:26:33] Very arrogantly, I was like, “Man, where’s the booth?” So I go in the booth, I do it, lay it down, maybe like one take, two takes, and everybody go crazy. And then, when I walked back in the control room. They’re like, “Where have you been?” I’m like, “Man, I ride my bike like three miles up the road, selling crack all day. And so, then they —
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:52] “Apparently you guys don’t buy enough crack, because I’m on the corner selling it!”
T.I.: [00:26:55] From that point forward, I never looked back.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:57] That’s amazing. So you literally had to just jump on it. So you’re practicing — what? In your head while you’re selling crack or out loud on the street? When are you practicing?
T.I.: [00:27:04] Honestly, man, the odd thing about it is when we were trapping, it was me and a group of us, and I was the only one who actually knew what I wanted to do. I actually knew I could visualize where I could see myself. I’d sit down with a pen and pad or like a stoop as everybody else standing up, talking shit, smoking reefer. I talked shit, smoked reefer, did everything that everybody else did, but every now and then when a thought came into my head, I’d sit down, jot down whether it was a full page, just an idea for me to remember and then finish later, and sometimes I would miss money. People will say, “Man, you just missed $50 sitting down with that pad.” And I missed my money I didn’t make as much as everybody all the time, but who’s missing money now?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:44] Yeah. Yeah, long-term strategy. Dude, this is off topic, but whatever. Are your teeth real? There’s so white. There’s no way that those are –those have to be…
T.I.: [00:27:54] Sure.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:55] What? You got good DNA, man.
T.I.: [00:27:58] Sure. I mean, I have done some significant straightening and some fixing. There were some chips and things —
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:03] But they’re completely white. They match the sign behind you.
T.I.: [00:28:06] That comes from high levels of whitening and I’ve kind of damaged my enamel in certain places and sometimes hot and cold kind of gets to me. Maybe more than yours. Your teeth may be stronger than mine, but mine are whiter than yours.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:21] That’s right. They will probably always be that way, that’s for damn sure. “While serving 11 months in prison, he released his seventh album, No Mercy.” I see this in Wikipedia or wherever I got this from. How do you release music while you’re in prison? I probably shouldn’t be surprised Tupac is dead and still releases music, but you’re probably the only guy that gets in trouble in prison for working.
T.I.: [00:28:40] Nah, I didn’t get in trouble.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:42] Oh, they said that you got in trouble for that somehow.
T.I.: [00:28:44] Nah, I didn’t get in trouble for that. There’s no way for me to get in trouble for. But the way you release music in prison is you complete it before you turn yourself in. The judge sentenced me to a year and a day, but after your sentence, if you’re on bond, you don’t just go straight to jail. So you wait for a message in the mail where they tell you this is where you’re designated, this is when you should be there.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:08] I see what it was. You filmed an unauthorized music video, whatever that is?
T.I.: [00:29:13] That’s not when I was in prison! That was another time. That was back in 2004, maybe.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:17] Okay, because it says, “While in prison in Cobb County, Georgia, he filmed an unauthorized music video.”
T.I.: [00:29:22] Yeah, that wasn’t prison, that was really like a probation violation — that was county jail.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:25] Because I was like, “Who gets in trouble for working?”
T.I.: [00:29:27] That was in county jail, and I was allowed — granted permission — to come into Fulton County Jail, and I shot a video. It was really only supposed to be for the introduction to my show because I was just getting out of jail. I was in work release, but everybody thought I was still locked up. There was a big show, like an annual radio bash, like it was called Birthday Bash. It’s on Hot 107.9 in Atlanta. And the biggest thing in the world was everybody knew I was locked up. No one was expecting me to come. But I was on work release and they were going to allow me to go. I went to Fulton County Jail to film what would be my prelude right before I came out on stage.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:18] You work a lot. Do you think you’re a workaholic? Every time I have read about you, it’s like, wait that overlaps with that, wait that overlaps with that. You’re always busy. There’s no like, “Where’s T.I.?” It’s always like, “No, he’s doing something.”
T.I.: [00:30:30] Yeah. I think that I have a lot of creativity just floating around in my head.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:36] I got more troubles.
T.I.: [00:30:37] Hey, man, help yourself. My granddad told me, “You do the job right the first time, you ain’t got to do it again.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:44] Yeah, he sounds like a smart man.
T.I.: [00:30:47] But now, okay, I have so many ideas, so many aspirations, so many things that I feel like I want to do and I feel like I have an opportunity to do, that it don’t allow me to rest. I wake up with ideas. I write songs in my sleep. I’ve written songs in my sleep, literally. Like I’d be asleep and wake up and was like, “Yo, I got to record that.” If you ever go back to Paper Trail, there’s a song called What Up, What’s Haapnin’? I wrote this song in my sleep. That was a song that woke me up out of my sleep and made me record it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:16] Do you write it down on a pad? You keep paper —
T.I.: [00:31:18] If I intend on going back to sleep, I do. But if I record it immediately, then I don’t.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:23] So you’ll get up in the middle of the night and just be like, “Nope. Turn on that recording gear.”
T.I.: [00:31:27] That is the benefit of having an in-home studio.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:30] For sure. Yeah, of course. So you just started rapping on no track, or you just put it down and then you’re like, “All right, I’ll work on that later.” How does it work in your head?
T.I.: [00:31:38] Well, at the time, because I was on house arrest, my engineer knew this about me. He was just at the back camped out all the time.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:45] So you had a producer just living in your house because —
T.I.: [00:31:47] An engineer. We’d have producers send us tracks. And as we’re in there working, I just flipped through different tracks and figured out which one was appropriate for whatever mood or whatever perspective I wanted to speak on at the time.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:02] That’s incredible. You’re obviously a very creative guy. You’re not limited to one niche or one vertical. How do you relax now? You have seven kids, so you have a lot of steam that needs to be blown off, I would imagine.
T.I.: [00:32:14] Not really. Even though I have seven kids, I’ve never been in a position where I felt like, “Damn, what the fuck is all these kids doing here?” Just like what I said with my entourage, all my kids seem to have a different purpose that they serve to the family. They all play different roles. They all are different parts of me, so it’s not seven kids doing the same thing at the same time. It’s like each and every last one of them has their own platform, their own perspective. They have their own outlook on life. Their questions are different. Their diets are different. Their wardrobe and the way they approach school is different. All of them, they have very different philosophies.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:00] Some were born when you weren’t doing as well as you are now.
T.I.: [00:33:03] Well, I’ll tell you what, I told you that when my oldest son’s mother, which is my first biological child, when my oldest son’s mother told me that she was pregnant, I was still selling crack on the bicycle. By the time he was born. I had a record deal, an apartment, a car, and I didn’t look back ever.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:25] So within nine months.
T.I.: [00:33:26] Within nine months.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:27] You got your shit together.
T.I.: [00:33:29] I turned up. I turned up. I was working a job at the airport because I was on probation. I had to have a job for probation. I was working a job at the airport. I quit my job at the airport when I found out that she was pregnant. Completely started, just like headfirst into the street. That probably lasted about three or four months, but my probation officer still thought I worked at the airport. Probably about three, four months down the road, that’s when they had the intervention. It was about three months into her pregnancy that that intervention took place, and then they took me to see the guys and probably about three months after that, I was signed. Probably about a month after that, I got my first sign about maybe a month or two, so maybe a month before my son was born, I was straight. That was really all faith and hustle.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:23] Your parole officer must have been like, “Oh, great. He’s got a record deal. He’s going to be back at the airport in like a month and a half. You are on thin ice, man.”
T.I.: [00:34:30] I mean to be honest with you, he didn’t find out that I wasn’t at the airport until I told him.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:33] He still thinks you work at the airport! Like, “I see this rap guy my kids listen to, he looks familiar. Looks like that guy that works at the airport!”
T.I.: [00:34:40] “Where’s Harris? Get this Harris file.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:43] “Oh, he’s exploding. He seems to be doing well.”
Jason DeFillippo: [00:34:48] You’re listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest, T.I. We’ll be right back after this.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:54] This episode is sponsored in part by Everlane. This is an awesome clothing brand. First of all, it’s just basics. It’s not like cool tees with dragons on him bro. It’s basic stuff long sleeve, short sleeve, v-neck, crewneck, whatever but basics are the stuff you wear all the time and a lot of it sucks. The fit sucks. They shrink in the wash. They fall apart after a couple months. So, you get new ones, you start the process all over. Uniform by Everlane is a collection of men’s basics. They actually last. First of all, they look and they fit great. They’ve got classic tees, four-way stretch denim. Everything’s been tested. What’s really cool is they simulate this full year of washing and wear to make sure that it holds up to everyday life which is kind of neat. I don’t know how they do that. But the entire collection is backed by a 365-day guarantee. Like you can literally tell them this fell apart and have had it for 10 months, and they’re like here’s another one. It’s crazy. What I really do appreciate about them, they’re very transparent sort of ecofriendly, they tell you how much everything cost on the website, and they show you their margin, which is not something most businesses do. Everything looks great and fits great. You can tell that whoever designed these and created these was like I want to wear this, not just sell it in bulk in a giant cardboard box in a pack of 10. It’s definitely higher quality and you can tell the company Everlane stands behind what they create. Jason.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:36:14] Get free shipping on your first uniform order at everlane.com/jordan. That’s free shipping on the most comfortable basics, you’ll ever wear only at everlane.com/jordan. That’s everlane.com/jordan.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:26] This episode is also sponsored by Pattern Brands. We’re constantly challenged to find a daily balance in our lives due to the demands of work and the need to feel constantly productive which is kind of like where I exist and a lot of people are taking their time back by being present in the kitchen. A lot of my friends are taking up cooking. Jason, I know you’re the huge into cooking actually.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:36:47] What’s great about Equal Parts is they have coaching which I really could have used when I started out as a home cook because I was throwing stuff at the wall, wasting food like over and over again. When you try and make a French omelet, I wish I had somebody to call that wasn’t YouTube, that was always wrong, you want an expert to help you get through those early stages, and that’s what I really like about Equal Parts.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:37:09] Plus who the hell wants to search a freaking search engine when they’re in the middle of cooking something. Hey, I just need to know this one thing. Let me find 17 different videos about how to cook a French omelet, watch all of them at 2x speed, and hope that they correct this one problem I’m having. What? No. So every product with Equal Parts comes with eight weeks to text with a cooking coach. A human trained cooking expert who can text 7 days a week to help with anything, decide what to make tonight. What I love is you can tell him what’s in your fridge like I got ketchup and leftover Stromboli and I don’t know some pepperoncini. They’ll help you decide what to make based on those ingredients. That’s awesome. They’ll inspire you to help you with technique. They can help you incorporate a seasonal ingredient to something you’re making. It’s really kind of a funny and fun way to get into cooking especially for those of us that might not be always together with our grocery shopping. Or we say we’re going shopping, we want to make something good, “What do you think?” They can tell you some ideas and then can tell you what to go out and buy down to the brand which is awesome.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:38:12] Get into the rhythm of the kitchen with friendly and inviting cookware, coaching, and guidance from Equal Parts, all with free shipping and free returns. Visit equalparts.com and get $50 off any cookware kit over $200 with code Jordan. That’s equalparts.com, enter code Jordan.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:30] This episode is also sponsored in part by Better Help. A lot of people are getting into therapy and I’m a huge fan of this. Look mental health issues are no joke. I was talking with Charlamagne Tha God about this a while back and especially in a lot of minority communities, therapy is not a thing. You think white people don’t go to therapy, try the African-American community, Asian…Man, if I told my Taiwanese family about therapy and they were just like, “Oh, we don’t talk about those things to other people.” Like “Why well, that’s the problem. You’re about to boil over, man. Come on.” Depression, stress anxiety, relationships, sleeping, trauma, family stuff — I mean all of this you should not be dealing with this stuff on your own. Even if you think I don’t need therapy, it’s not that big of a deal. My friend’s mom just got diagnosed with cancer, and he’s like I’m just going to work because when I’m busy I don’t think about it. I’m like, “Okay, that’s one way to do it but maybe you should hit up a little bit of Better Help, go see a therapist.” I mean, it’s good to have that steam outlet and sometimes our significant other is — well, sometimes they’re the problem or maybe we’re both part of the problem, but sometimes that their problem — but you don’t always want to share everything with them either, right? If you’ve got a serious issue, you don’t always want to bring it home with you. Sometimes you need an outlet, that’s not bad and Better Help is a great way to do that. Get help at your own time at your own pace. You don’t have to drive across town. You don’t have to find parking. You can schedule a secured video or phone session. Chat or text with your therapist and if you’re not happy with your therapist, just get a new one at any time. No charge. No extra charge for that. Jason, I know we’ve got a deal for him. Tell him what it is.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:40:03] Better Help is a truly affordable option and for our listeners, get 10% off your first month with discount code Jordan. So why not get started today? Go to betterhelp.com/Jordan. Simply fill out a questionnaire to help them assess your needs and get matched with a counselor you’ll love. That’s betterhelp.com/jordan for that 10% off your first month.[00:40:21] Thank you for listening and supporting the. Your support of our advertisers keeps us on the air. To learn more and get links to all the great discounts you just heard so you can check out those amazing sponsors, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals. And don’t forget the worksheet for today’s episode, that link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. If you’re listening to us in the overcast player, please click that little star next to the episode. We really appreciate it and now for the conclusion of our episode with T.I.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:49] Is there any tension between being a good role model for your kids, being a good role model for the community, and then staying relevant in the rap game? It doesn’t always celebrate good behavior, man.
T.I.: [00:41:00] Well, I will tell you this: There’s value in honesty, and I never pretended to be perfect for my kids. I’m very honest with them about my past, about my mistakes. I am very honest with them about the lessons that I’ve learned, and I tell stories — just like I told you these stories. I tell them stories about times when — my son, he’s somewhat of an activist, so he has a very conspiracy theorist kind of mentality about himself.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:31] He’s going to be homies with your boy outside right now.
T.I.: [00:41:34] He questions everything. So he always tells me, “You know, dad you have to –” I say, “Hey, listen, son. When I was in sixth grade, I was suspended and sent home for refusing to stand for the pledge.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:46] Really?
T.I.: [00:41:47] Yes. I was —
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:49] The original Colin Kaepernick.
T.I.: [00:41:50] You dig? And also, he’s a vegan. He’s a complete vegan now and telling me about what I should be eating. I say, “Son. I stopped eating pork in my family when I was 10 years old. So can you imagine a young black kid in 1990 telling his grandparents and his mama and everybody in his family, ‘I don’t want no pork?'”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:120] But you’re like, “But Louis Farrakhan says no pork!”
T.I.: [00:42:14] It wasn’t really Farrakhan at the time. It was my uncle. My uncle had been sent to prison for 10 years and as he went, he began to study Islam, and he began to funnel the information back to me. Also, he gave me an experiment to do it. It was to take a raw piece of bacon, put it in club soda, and set it outside to bear the brunt of the elements and come back in 48 hours or 24 hours and find out what it was — and there were maggots. Well, I don’t know if they were maggots or the trichina worms. And that is what got me off of pork at 10 years old. And my granddad would say, “Oh, you’re going to eat what we cook around here!” I’d say, “I let you want what you eat, I’m cool.” And I’d take my candy money, I’d get me some McDonald’s, and I’d have my little, you know what I mean —
Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:58] You don’t want worms from the pork.
T.I.: [00:43:00] You dig what I’m saying? I’d rather take my little candy money, I’m going to find me some noodles or something that I can eat and I’m cool. I traveled down that road at 10 years old. So, I tell him, “Listen man, you ain’t doing nothing new to me.” It’s just our little games and tricks that kids will pull quite naturally. I said, “Man, you suburb kids ain’t going to never get one over with me.” Y’all got to get up pretty early in the morning if you think you’re going to get one over on Pops!
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:30] Do you still not eat pork?
T.I.: [00:43:31] No, not at all. At this point, I don’t even eat meat. I don’t eat pork. I don’t eat beef. I don’t eat lamb. I don’t eat turkey. I don’t chicken. Just seafood. I’m trying to cut out dairy, but — cheese and butter!
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:41] It’s good!
T.I.: [00:43: 42] That’s the hardest thing. That’s even harder than giving up meat.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:44] It’s tasty. Why did you first start to feel an obligation towards your neighborhood and community? Because I would imagine when you’re selling crack, you get signed the record deal, you’re supporting your kids, then you become famous, you become a celebrity, you’re getting rich, you’re getting famous. Like there’s got to be a period where you go, “This is pretty awesome,” and then maybe it gets old and you’re like, “I’m over it. There’s got to be something else.”
T.I.: [00:44:04] Well, I had some experiences in the beginning and experiences along the way that kept me grounded and focused and I never completely like flew away. Now I got pretty high up in the sky, but I was always grounded back to something.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:22] What kind of experiences?
T.I.: [00:44:23] Well, I say for instance, when my uncle first got out of prison, I told you he was doing 10 years. So I was eight when he went away. When he got out, I was about 18. I’d just got in my check and he told me then, he said, “Hey, give me $30,000” or something like that. I was like, “Man, I just got this money.” So I gave it to him because he said, “Man, you ain’t going to nothing but fuck it up.” I didn’t understand it at the time, but I was like, “Man, you’ve been gone 10 years.” He’s my uncle. He’s had just an incredible impact on my life. How could I not give it to him? Go ahead. And I gave it to him, never looked back, blew the rest of the money. I thought I got everything I needed to get for my child and his mother, then I was back on check to check. Figuring out, hustling, figuring out how I was going to stay at the trap and off the streets. Cut to six months later, I made a way for myself. I had gone in. I was doing like $10,000 a show. I had shows booked maybe seven times, six times a week. And I was rolling at this point independently. He put me in a car and he took me riding and we rode through my old neighborhood, and he stopped me in front of a house. A house that I was familiar with, but it looked much different. So I looked at it and he said, “You see that house?” I said, “Yeah, I used to sell crack out of that house. I’m very familiar. What about it?” He said, “Well, ain’t no crack in there now. That’s what we did. That money you gave me, I put some old money with it. We bought that house, I renovated it, and now I sold it to a family, and it’s a family living in there.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:43] Wow. So, he was in prison being like, “I’m going to make money responsibly. I’m going to figure this out.”
T.I.: [00:45:48] At that very moment in time, I was like, “Damn.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:50] Because you’d never thought about — obviously, you’d never I thought about that.
T.I.: [00:45:54] I didn’t. But at that time is when it dawned on me, “I have sold crack in about 12 more houses around here. I have some more work to do.” So that’s when I felt such a sense of redemption at that time. Feeling like I fixed something that I helped to fuck up.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:13] That’s interesting.
T.I.: [00:46:14] I dove into revitalization of the community, acquiring properties and dilapidated pieces of land, and building and developing, and then the market crashed and I say, “Shit. I got a day job.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:29] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. This investing thing was fine but —
T.I.: [00:46:31] It was cool when it was good, but I don’t have to bear the brunt of this.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:36] So that part of you wanted to give back because you were selling drugs and maybe not benefiting the community so much back then.
T.I.: [00:46:41] Well not necessarily that. That part of me wanted to give back because I was once one of those people. They needed some form of opportunity, some form of an experience, some higher level of education that I was not receiving. It’s always crazy how I hear the far right — I guess Republicans the far-right Republicans, I’ll say that to put it plainly in nicely — they always say, “Well, all these people want us to do is give, give, give. They never want to work for anything.” The thing is, okay, historically our people have been the hardest working people — us and other immigrants —
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:20] Definitely, definitely, yeah.
T.I.: [00:47:22] Hardest working people who have helped to build this country. Now the thing is, about our people in particular, made this because we’ve been here the longest, but every time we get ourselves to a place of independence and prosperity, there’s something always done to sabotage us, undercut us, and take us right back down to square one. I’ll give you an example: 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma, Black Wall Street. There was a group of black professionals who came together. There was a lawyer and doctors and just entrepreneurs who came together and they bought hundreds of acres of land and created a town. They had their own airport, they had their own banks, they had their own schools, they even had their own hospital. Over time, I guess when the people in the surrounding areas, the angry whites came in and they wanted a piece of what they had going on and they wouldn’t sell to them. They wanted to keep their dollars circulating within their community. They wanted to keep the prosperity right there, and they bombed them. It to this day is still, not 9/11, it to this day is still the largest, most gruesome, domestic attack of terrorism in this country’s existence. They’ll tell you it’s 9/11, but really if you look it up, it’s Tulsa, Oklahoma, Black Wall Street 1921.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:39] That’s crazy. I have to look that up when I get home. I’ve heard of that because I used to be the only white guy at work. Everybody used to be like, “Have you heard of Black Wall Street?” And I’d be like, “Yes, because it’s Tuesday; I’ve already heard about it 40 times.”
T.I.: [00:48:52] Also, I heard D.L. Hughley say back in the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, I guess you could say the Renaissance era whatever, black people had means. We’d worked and we developed means for ourselves. We bought property, and the property that we bought — D.L. Hughley said that his grandmother owned a house right by the 105 Freeway, but for them to build the 105 Freeway, they public domained her property, gave her nothing. She was just expected to start over.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:23] Yeah eminent domain.
T.I.: [00:49:25] Excuse me. Not public domain, eminent domain. Excuse my language. I’m thinking a different intellectual property.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:29] You got your IP terms mixed up with your property terms. I’m a lawyer so I know random shit.
T.I.: [00:49:35] They eminent domained her property. Gave her nothing. Left her to start all the way over. Now imagine if she still had that property, what it would have appreciated to by now. You see? So it’s not that we don’t want to work, it’s not that we just want people to give us something. It’s that every time we get to a certain level, there’s always something done systemically that undercuts us, sabotages us, and brings us right back to square one. That is the issue here.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:05] How many people really believe that like urban African-American or poor people don’t want to work? I’ve never actually —
T.I.: [00:50:12] Let me tell you something. I come from the urban African-America community. There’s a lot of them that don’t want to work, but it’s because they have been conditioned to be dependent on a system. That’s one of the things that Candace got right.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:28] Candace Owens.
T.I.: [00:50:29] That’s one of the things that we agreed on. The Democratic party somewhat incentivized, back in the ’70s and ’80s, incentivized black mothers with welfare, food stamps, Section 8. They incentivized black mothers to cut off ties with the father because you get more money or you couldn’t — you would not be eligible for certain programs if you had a man in the house. But they knew that a woman without a man in the house raising the child and that child would generally go out into the community in the areas in the neighborhoods that they lived in, get caught up in the system, end up in prison, and they would be able to have a cycle of recidivism over and over and over again. That’s something that she speaks on that I have the utmost respect and I agree with it in totality, but these are the types of things that have been done to deconstruct and sabotage our family values and our existence over time. It’s been so much more, but these are the things that come to mind off the top.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:35] There’s a lot there but I don’t have time to deconstruct all of it. I wish I did. I’ll come back and interview you or I’ll go on your show and then take over by accident.
T.I.: [00:51:41] Sure man, anytime.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:43] But how do you stay relevant, not burn out creatively? You were long-time running the game. A lot of people they get a couple of records, maybe a couple of hits, but done. You never hear about them again. You’ve even said you’ve got a couple more albums, then you’re done.
T.I.: [00:51:57] Yeah, man. I mean like to be honest with you, I don’t feel like music at this present moment in time, I don’t feel like it utilizes all of my gifts.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:05] Yeah. What do you mean?
T.I.: [00:52:06] I just feel like I have so much more to offer. I have so much more to offer. Me being an artist has nothing to do with me being an actor. Has nothing to do with me having three clothing lines. Has nothing to do with me being a developer. I have a 200-plus unit development in Atlanta, mixed-use development, that I have that breaks ground in January. It has nothing to do with me opening a museum. I own and have curated —
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:29] What’s the museum?
T.I.: [00:52:30] The Trap Music Museum. The Trap Music Museum is about the life and lifestyle of the most significant contributors to the culture and the sub-genre of trap music, so you can come and you can see the Young Jeezy exhibit, the Gucci Mane exhibit, the 2 Chainz exhibit, the Future exhibit, the T.I. exhibit, Yo Gotti exhibit, and not to mention they just released Nipsey Hussle exhibit. I have all of these different attributes and all of these different contributions to the culture that I don’t feel like are able to be utilized if I’m only focusing on making music.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:06] You want to put a bow on the music and then move into something else — all these other things, I mean? Do you think you’ll keep doing music?
T.I.: [00:53:13] I’ll still do music. I go to the studio quite often and I have, like, an extensive catalog. I can release an album every couple of months for at least five years. I released music going back to 2007, 2008.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:28] Wow. 10 plus years.
T.I.: [00:53:30] Eight, nine.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:31] Yeah, so decade plus of music. So why are you doing your new show on PodcastOne: ExpediTIously? Because you’ve had a full career. So why a podcast now?
T.I.: [00:53:39] To be honest with you man, because I want to engage the culture and the generation. I want to have healthy dialogue and create a platform where we can have the discussions that will have the most significant impact and push the culture forward. I like to say if I had a guy who was in the same position I was in when I was that young kid when they had that intervention, before I became T.I., so if that kid can listen to me in our discussions and we can navigate him through the journey that he will have to take, going from where he is right now to where he aspires to be, and it can kind of circumvent a lot of obstacles and pitfalls that I went through and get him here faster without as much negative shit to hang over his head, then I feel like it’s worth that much and more to do a podcast.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:37] What are you doing to make sure your own kids don’t get used to having a good life, get a little soft, make sure they work hard? I had a kid seven weeks ago, so I’m like, “All right, how do I make sure he realizes that this isn’t a normal?”
T.I.: [00:54:47] You don’t say “Yes” to everything. You make him work for it. That’s what I do. My kids, they don’t get what they want, they get what they earn. I’ll give you an example. Let’s say sweet 16. For my oldest daughter, I had to do it to test the waters. So she got a Porsche truck. Okay. The second person to get a car, he got a Honda.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:5:12] He must have been like, “Excuse me. Hold on a second! My sister said she got a Porsche truck!”
T.I.: [00:55:18] He got a Honda. At first, he didn’t even get a car. He got access to use a car and the car I designated for him to use was my car. And I said, “You could use that car.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:28] What kind of car was it?
T.I.: [00:55:30] It was actually a Challenger, Dodge Challenger.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:32] Yeah, that’s good enough. I’d say, “I’ll take it.”
T.I.: [00:55:35] And he wrecked that. He totaled that out. Then he got a Honda.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:40] That makes sense.
T.I.: [00:55:41] Now he can’t drive any of my cars. “You drive this Honda.” He actually fell in love with the Honda. It’s like, “Man, I like this.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:48] He’s lucky he didn’t get a Razr scooter!
T.I.: [00:55:49] And he hasn’t had an accident since. He’s become independent and self-sufficient and he’s now in Georgia State on his sophomore year, and after him was my 18-year-old son, and his first car was a little beat-up Camaro.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:06] Still a good car, though.
T.I.: [00:56:07] It was a good car, but it was it didn’t look good. It was a beat-up Camaro with no hubcaps, real dusty kind of matte black looking paint. It didn’t start off matte black, but it looked matte black. But he never complained about it. He took care of it and over a couple of years’ time after no incidents, he then got another car.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:29] This is completely irrelevant, but I’m going to end with this. At what point are you like, “I’m going to wear sunglasses indoors everywhere, even when I’m on camera?” It’s a personal brand choice and I approve; I wish I could get away with it, but I’m like —
T.I.: [00:56:39] I hadn’t even thought I had it — I didn’t detect that I had them on until you just said something.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:44] But you wear them everywhere. You were on the Revolt panel with them. They’re everywhere.
T.I.: [00:56:48] I think it’s at some point it’s a cool factor.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:53] Definitely.
T.I.: [00:56:53] Because in the sun, I don’t want to glare my eyes, then you have to squint.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:58] True, nobody looks cool squinting.
T.I.: [00:57:00] So as I come in here nobody says, “Hey, you’re inside now, you can take your glasses off.” Nobody said that until now. I’m going to take them off.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:07] That’s because you’re T.I. Nobody’s going to like, hey —
T.I.: [00:57:09] I mean, I don’t even see, I don’t even think that — look, there’s a lot of bright light right here. I think I’ll put my glasses back on.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:17] What kind of glasses are those?
T.I.: [00:57:17] These are DITAs, actually.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:19] I like those.
T.I.: [00:57:19] Thank you.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:20] Yeah, I think I might have to give myself a pair of those.
T.I.: [00:547:21] I think they’re Mach-One.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:23] I’m going to get a pair of those. And I’m going to wear them inside and people will be like, “Why the fuck — ?”
T.I.: [00:57:27] They’re Mach-One titaniums.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:29] Those are dope.
T.I.: [00:57:27] D-I-T-A.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:31] D-I-T-A not Adidas. I heard Adidas.
T.I.: [00:57:34] DITAs.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:35] DITAs. We’ll link to those in the show notes. Hey, man. Thank you very much.
T.I.: [00:57:39] Thank you so much, man. I enjoyed you.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:41] This is really a lot of fun.
T.I.: [00:57:42] I see why they said you have a kick-ass podcast.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:44] They’re good liars, like I said, and I appreciate it. I’ll plug this back up.
T.I.: [00:57:48] Right on, brother!
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:49] Drank enough of your tequila! Cheers.
T.I.: [00:57:51] Glad to have you.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:52] Likewise.
T.I.: [00:57:53] Right on.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:55] Thank you to T.I. It was a lot of fun. He’s got a new podcast. It’s called ExpediTIously with a capital T.I. in the middle there. I see what you did. Links to his stuff will, of course, be in the show notes and there’s a video of this interview and us doing tequila out of foam cups that link to that is on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube. You can watch us act the fool there. There’re also worksheets for each episode. Yes, even for this one with T.I. so you can assure everything you were supposed to learn from him and I at jordanharbinger.com in the show notes.[00:58:26] And I’m teaching you how to connect with great people and manager relationships using systems and tiny habits over at our Six-Minute Networking course, which is free, not enter your credit card free, but free, free. The more people that know this, the better off we all are. That’s at jordanharbinger.com/course. Don’t do it later. Don’t say you’re going to do it some other time. Procrastination leads to stagnation when it comes to your personal and business relationships. Dig that well before you get thirsty. Once you need relationships you are too late and these drills take a few minutes a day. That’s it. This is the stuff I wish I knew 20 years ago. You asked me what my biggest takeaways, you asked me what my biggest activator of successes, it was learning these networking and relationship development skills, and I’m giving it to you for free because I want you to learn it because it makes the world a better place. jordanharbinger.com/course. And of course most of the guests on the show, they subscribed to the course and the newsletter. So, come join us, you’ll be in smart company. Speaking of building relationships. You can always reach out and or follow me on social. I’m at JordanHarbinger on Twitter and Instagram. [00:59:23] The show is created in association with PodcastOne and this episode was produced by Jen Harbinger, Jason DeFillippo, edited by Jace Sanderson. show notes and worksheets by Robert Fogarty, music by Evan Viola. I’m your host, Jordan Harbinger. Our advice and opinions of those of our guests, they’re their own opinions, our own opinions. Yeah. I’m a lawyer, but I’m not your lawyer. So do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show and remember we rise by lifting others. The fee for the show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting which should be in every episode. So, please share the show with those you love and even those you don’t. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen and we’ll see you next time.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:00:04] A lot of folks ask me which podcast I listened to and one that never fails to both educate and entertain is The Kevin Rose Show and I’ve been friends with Kevin for a while. You may know him as being a super smart, early into the game tech investor and now is a…I don’t know Kevin, you’re here with me today. What would you describe yourself as? Thinker just sounds so Silicon Valley. I don’t want to say that but it’s kind of what you’re doing these days.
Kevin Rose: [01:00:29] Yeah. I’ve been a tech investor for over a decade, but I’m just a self-experimenter. Someone that just like loves to go in and try all the latest and greatest stuff and that could be some crazy obscure body hacks, it can be like deeper meditation, it can be just really having guests on my show that I can go really deep with.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:00:48] you recently had Dr. Andrew Weil, and I’ve looked at this guy before because he’s come suggested for The Jordan Harbinger Show, and he has just enough of that dose of crazy where I’m like, I like this guy. What was he all about?
Kevin Rose: [01:01:00] Andrew Weil is nuts. I mean, he’s really well-known. He probably semen every time you go into Whole Foods or he’s got a big white beard. He’s always like on the magazine shelf there, but he’s a classically trained doctor. So, you know, Harvard doc got his degree there, but then really went into the alternative side of medicine with a science kind of approach to it. We talked a lot about different herbs that you can use for longevity. We talked about intermittent fasting. We talked about the use of psychedelics for therapy these days which is really kind of new and unique. He’s just someone I always want to pick his brain because he’s always on the bleeding edge of this stuff. He was the first one…I don’t know if you remember probably a decade ago before trans fats were banned obviously causing so many different types of cancers and now they’re required to be listed on food labels. He’s the one that was calling that out like a decade ago, which is just nuts. He got me to start looking at individual ingredients so I stopped eating trans fats, which I’m really thankful for. He’s always has the latest and greatest science and always a fun guest.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:02:01] That’s great, and we can find that link, of course, in the show notes for this episode or on the Kevin Rose Show podcast at kevinrose.com as well. Thanks, Kevin.