"You can hate if you want, but you're wasting your time." - T.I. on himself
Rapping since age 9, Southern rapper Clifford "T.I." Harris broke onto the national stage with Trap Muzik, and the self-professed King of the South was here to stay. Today, after his fourth album King was released earlier this year, he proved that his album was appropriately titled as he was one of the few that surpassed the platinum mark.
In 2006, Hollywood also caught wind of T.I.’s golden touch. Chris Robinson, director of Tip’s first video, “I’m Serious” in 2001, tapped the emcee for the lead role in the movie ATL. In it T.I. portrays Rashad with a decidedly more straight-laced personality than his own when he was growing up in the same 'hood the flick portrays. After the death of his parents, Rashad tries to keep his brother Ant (Evan Ross) in line, begin a relationship with the sexy New-New (Lauren London) and navigate decisions that will determine his life's course.
Although the ATL produced a solid film debut for the rapper, 2006 wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. On May 3, T.I’s 26-year-old childhood friend, personal assistant and employee of his Grand Hustle Records Philant Johnson was killed in Cincinnati. Witnesses told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the problems began when a large group of men at the Ritz got offended when money was thrown from the stage by a member of T.I.'s clique. Although the money was a gesture aimed at the ladies, the men in attendance grew furious. As T.I. and his entourage left the club, the patrons followed and fired several shots at the crew, fatally wounding Philant and injuring three other passengers.
Despite the hardships, T.I. managed to end his year on a high note. Along with breaking into Hollywood, he was able to break Grand Hustle act Young Dro on the strength of the club hit “Shoulder Lean.”
On a more personal note, the emcee snagged the Video of the Year at BET’s first Hip-Hop Awards with "What You Know" beating out Busta Rhymes’ "Touch It" remix, Common's "Testify" and Lupe Fiasco's "Kick Push."
He also took a second big honor, winning the Hip-Hop MVP of the Year award over Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, Chamillionaire and Yung Joc.
And when the movies and music becomes uneventful there’s always his construction company, New Finish Construction; the car customization shop he co-owns, Elite Auto Concierge; and his new Bankhead nightclub, Club Crucial.
They don’t call him the King for nothing.
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