A Jamie Foster Brown interview (excerpted from the July 2008 issue of Sister 2 Sister magazine)
T.I.’s fans may not love her, but they have to respect Tameka “Tiny” Cottle. She rose to fame as a member of the So So Def multi-platinum R&B group Xscape. Tiny is also a songwriter; she won a Grammy in 1999 for co-writing TLC’s hit “Scrubs” with her Xscape bandmate Kandi Burruss. But today, Tiny, 32, is better known as rapper T.I.’s on-and-off girlfriend. She recently had their third child together, a son named Major. They have a 3-year-old son they call King and their daughter Llayah was stillborn last year. The couple worked through the loss of their daughter and Tiny said she and T.I., 27, are stronger as a result.
S2S Publisher Jamie Foster Brown attended Tiny’s baby shower (for son Major) hosted by Kandi and R&B singer Monica. Monica said she and Tiny have been friends for 14 years.
In this interview, which took place at the baby shower and over the phone, Tiny talks about how they picked the name Major, her relationship with T.I. and what she hopes to do with her talent. She has been focused on raising her kids (Tiny also has a 12-year-old daughter Zonnique and T.I. has three children from previous relationships) and running a salon in Atlanta called Tiny’s Nail Bar.
But she does want to get back to songwriting. Read on to learn about the woman who has T.I.’s heart.
Tiny: Thank you.
Jamie: How did you pick your [new son’s] name, Major?
Tiny: [T.I. and I were] riding and I was saying—this was before I was pregnant—“It’s going to be hard if we ever have another son because how are you going to go after King?” He was like, “I can think of stuff … like ‘Major.’” As soon as he said it I was like, “I like that.” So once I got pregnant and found out it was a boy, I just stuck with that.
Jamie: I thought it was really good that you went on and got pregnant again because sometimes people don’t want to do that [after a miscarriage]. How did he help you through that? Y’all are so strong.
Tiny: Yeah. He helped me through it one day at a time.
Jamie: How many kids do you want to have?
Tiny: Well, I would like another girl, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen.
Jamie: Did you ask people to donate the baby toys to you on MySpace? Or is that an Internet rumor?
Tiny: No, I haven’t heard about that one.
Jamie: Listen, when are you and T.I. going to get married, and when am I going to get my ring back? See, this is my ring; it’s as big as my eye! [laughs]
Tiny: Actually, we plan on getting married soon, but we haven’t set anything up right now.
Jamie: Are you going to encourage your kids to get in the entertainment business, Tiny?
Tiny: Not necessarily … but if they want to, then that’s fine. My daughter likes to sing and act, and the rest of our kids are in acting class and everything, and they like it.
Jamie: How do you deal with fans that approach T.I.?
Tiny: I’m fine, as long as they don’t get disrespectful. Any disrespect or anything like that, he usually checks it.
Jamie: He checks it himself? What’s the nicest thing he’s ever done for you?
Tiny: Well, a lot of things. The nicest thing?
Jamie: A couple nice things, then.
Tiny: Well, he surprised me with a bracelet with all my kids’ names on there—the new baby, the baby we lost—I loved that. It was one of my favorite gifts.
Jamie: You’re extremely creative and talented, especially in writing.
Tiny: Thank you.
Jamie: A lot of people don’t know that. Your biggest hit was what, “Scrubs”?
Tiny: Yeah. I got to get back into writing and working.
Jamie: You all invest in real estate and things like that?
Tiny: You know, I wanted to get into it, but right now the market is not good. So right now I just do the nail salon and I’m working on a clothing store for kids in my area.
Jamie: Who would run the store if you’re gonna be on the road with Tip?
Tiny: Well, I have a partner that I’m working with. She’s been doing my hair since I was young. Her hair salon is in the same plaza. But I’m gonna make sure she has a helping hand. I ain’t gonna leave her by herself.
Jamie: Tell me some of the stuff that you got at the baby shower.
Tiny: I haven’t opened up everything I got at the baby shower because the cleaning people put all the stuff that I had opened up with the stuff that I hadn’t opened up in his room. I did get a Louis Vuitton baby bag—one of my favorite gifts. And I got a Gucci baby bag, but I had that with my son King, so I don’t need both of them. I got a lot of Tiffany plates and spoons and stuff like that. I got a lot of Polo clothes and Burberry clothes for the baby. I got two strollers. I got tons of stuff; a lot of things that maybe I got two or three of.
Jamie: Are you gonna keep it or give some of it away?
Tiny: Well, I have a friend that’s having a baby boy, so I’m gonna give her some stuff.
Jamie: Did you want stuff with Army camouflage? That’s because his name is Major, right?
Jamie: So you’re working on opening up the nail bar. Are you gonna do any more music?
Tiny: Who knows? I would love to do more music, and I’ve been dealing with Tip and he doesn’t want me to do any work like that. But I don’t think I’m through all the way.
Jamie: It would be hard for you to be away from the kids. That’s what Tip would be worried about.
Tiny: Yeah, that’s what he says, but I’m still always going with him.
Jamie: But isn’t that a blessing though?
Tiny: Yeah, it’s a blessing that he even wants me there.
Jamie: Do you think it’s hard for guys to commit, Tiny?
Tiny: Yeah, I do. ’Cause it’s so many women after your man, and they’re willing to do whatever, whenever. It can be a lot of temptation for a man.
Jamie: Was there a time when you two weren’t together a year ago?
Tiny: Yeah, we had a rough time for about a month or so last year. So there was a time when he did say that [he didn’t want to commit] and we were not really getting along, but it wasn’t a long time.
Jamie: How do you go on like that? I got hurt when I was 17 years old, and I said I didn’t wanna get hurt no more.
Tiny: It’s always stuff that you have to deal with. But what makes me strong is knowing the things I’ve done in the relationship—knowing that I’ve done everything I could possibly do. And just knowing that I’ve done lots of extra things and everything I could do, I can’t be upset with myself by doing right by him.
Excerpted from the July 2008 issue of Sister 2 Sister magazine.