On one hand, T.I. isn’t happy about rappers who rhyme about lives they’ve never lived. On the other hand, he gives them props for not making the same mistakes he has.
Many hip-hop artists, from Ice-T to 50 Cent, found success rapping about their life experiences, but Tip said the new trend seems to be artists faking a struggle that they know nothing about.
“The art form, it derives from truth,” T.I. told radio host TT Torrez. “The authenticity has diminished in the game and it’s about what sounds good. Nobody’s doing any fact checks, and no one’s getting called up on their bull$#_! neither.”
That’s not to suggest that T.I. wants young artists to catch weapons charges like he did or be shot multiple times like 50 Cent, but he does have a certain level of respect for artists, like Big Sean, whose rhymes reflect their lives.
“There’s a lot of guys out there that I really tip my hat to and salute their success, like Drake, like Big Sean, like Kendrick Lamar. There’s a lot of cats out there who’re really, really grinding and doing it the right way,” he said. “You ain’t gotta fake like you used to be something that you wasn’t to really, really be considered that guy.”
The lack of authenticity is so frustrating for T.I., that he’s considered switching gears and leaving music.
“When the day comes that the things that I represent ain’t really marketable and ain’t really fashionable to the consumer of the day, then I’mma break,” said T.I., who has turned more of his attention to acting and reality TV lately.
“It’s a lot of things going on out there that quite honestly, man, is a contradiction of what I’ve always stood for and represented. In some ways, the game is going in a direction that I can’t follow it. I always told myself when that day came I’d never become that old man talking about hip-hop in the old days. I’ll just find me something else to do,” he said.
Despite some newer artists’ tendency to rap about the things their predecessors did, even if it doesn’t apply to them, Tip gives the next generation props for learning from his—and others’—mistakes.
“We should applaud the fact that they didn’t live it. They were smart enough to observe us and see our plights and our conflicts and our hardships and say, you know what? I don’t want to feel that fire. So, I’mma listen to a bunch of this, and I’mma watch a bunch of that, and I’mma take some notes here and there, and I’m going to apply it into my artistry here and there. I’mma reap the benefits and not have to pay any of the consequences. In a way, it’s brilliant.”
Watch T.I. talk about his upcoming movie, I.D. Theft, and more below.
Check out exclusive photos of T.I. and Tiny at home below.
—Tracy L. Scott
Where do you stand? Do you consider it "fake" for rappers to rhyme about things they haven’t experienced, or is it all just art? Leave your comments below.