T.I. - Biography
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Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr. (born September 25, 1980), better known by his stage names T.I. and Tip (stylized as TIP), is an American hip hop recording artist and actor from Atlanta, Georgia. He signed his first major-label record deal in 1999, with Arista Records subsidiary, LaFace Records. In 2001, T.I. formed the Southern hip hop group Pimp Squad Click (P$C), alongside his longtime friends and fellow Atlanta-based rappers. Upon being released from Arista, T.I. signed to Atlantic Records and subsequently became the co-chief executive officer (CEO) of his own label imprint, Grand Hustle Records, which he launched in 2003. T.I. is perhaps best known as one of the artists who popularized the hip hop subgenre, trap music, along with Young Jeezy and Gucci Mane.
T.I. has released nine studio albums, with seven of them reaching the top five of the US Billboard 200 chart. Throughout his career, T.I. has also released several highly successful singles, including "Bring Em Out", "Whatever You Like", "Live Your Life" (featuring Rihanna), "Dead and Gone" (featuring Justin Timberlake), "Ball" (featuring Lil Wayne) and "No Mediocre" (featuring Iggy Azalea). He began to gain major recognition in 2003, following his first high-profile feature, on fellow Atlanta-based rapper Bone Crusher's hit single, "Never Scared". He earned more prominence with the release of Trap Muzik (2003), which includes the Top 40 hits, "Rubber Band Man" and "Let's Get Away". The next year, T.I. appeared on Destiny's Child's international hit, "Soldier", alongside Lil Wayne. His subsequent albums, King and T.I. vs. T.I.P., generated high record sales and were supported by popular singles, such as "What You Know" and "Big Shit Poppin'", respectively.
T.I.'s sixth album, Paper Trail (2008), became his most successful album to date, with the album being certified gold for first-week sales of over 500,000 copies in the United States, making it his third consecutive number one album. It included three international hit singles, "Whatever You Like", "Live Your Life" and "Dead and Gone". In 2013, T.I. was featured on Robin Thicke's hit single "Blurred Lines", alongside Pharrell Williams, which peaked at number one on several major music charts. In November 2013, T.I. announced that he had signed with Columbia Records, after his 10-year contract with Atlantic came to an end. He released his Columbia Records debut, Paperwork, in October 2014. T.I. has won three Grammy Awards, namely Best Rap Solo Performance, Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.
T.I. has served two terms in county jail, twice for probation violations and a federal prison bid for a U.S. federal weapons charge. While serving 11 months in prison, he released his seventh studio album, No Mercy (2010). T.I. has also had a successful acting career, starring in the films ATL, Takers, Get Hard, Identity Thief, and Ant-Man. He is also a published author, having written two novels Power & Beauty (2011) and Trouble & Triumph (2012), both of which were released to moderate success. T.I. has also starred in the American reality television series T.I.'s Road to Redemption and T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle. In 2009, Billboard ranked him as the 27th Artist of the 2000s decade.
1980–2000: Early life and career beginnings
Clifford Joseph Harris Jr. was born on September 25, 1980, in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Clifford "Buddy" Harris, Sr. and Violeta Morgan. He was raised by his grandparents in Atlanta's Bankhead neighborhood. His father resided in New York, and he would often go there to visit. Buddy Harris suffered from Alzheimer's disease and died from the disease. T.I. began rapping at age eight. He attended Douglass High School, but later dropped out. As a teenager, he dealt drugs. By age 14, he had been arrested several times. His stage name originally came from his childhood nickname "Tip", after his paternal great-grandfather. He was once known as Rubber Band Man, a reference to the custom of wearing rubber bands around the wrist to denote wealth in terms of drugs or money.
In 1996, T.I. befriended local rapper Big Kuntry King, T.I. who was already known around Atlanta as a skilled lyricist, and together they sold mixtapes out of the trunk of their car. Kawan "KP" Prather, a record executive, discovered T.I. and then signed him to his record label Ghet-O-Vision Entertainment. Upon signing with Arista We were both on Arista and we was trying to release my first album. The people who had to market, promote, and, you know, just spread the word on it communicated that it was somewhat difficult or confusing to have two Tips in one building. So out of respect and just the legendary reputation and career that preceded that situation, I definitely conceded. My problem, or conflict, at the time, was now this is what I've been called all my life, what do I change my name to? So, I guess, that began to hold my project up. 'What are we gonna call him?' You know what I'm saying? So at that point we had to come to some sort of a resolution. And KP, who signed me to LaFace, he just said, 'OK, look man, how about T.I.?' Cause on this one record I had, it was like, 'T-I-P.' I was like, 'Wait a minute, wait a minute. No. That was — you left out a letter still!' You know what I'm saying? He was like, "Well, listen man. You got something better?', 'No, I don't have — I don't have anything better.' 'Well, that's what we going with, man.' So it's kinda how it came about.
2001–02: I'm Serious
T.I. released his debut album, I'm Serious, in October 2001 through Arista Records. The album spawned the eponymous single, which featured Jamaican reggae entertainer Beenie Man. His debut single, "I'm Serious," was released on June 26, 2001. The single received little airplay and failed to chart. The album features guest appearances from his Southern hip hop group P$C, Jazze Pha, Too Short, Bone Crusher, Lil Jon, Pastor Troy and YoungBloodZ, as well as Pharrell Williams of American record production team The Neptunes (who called him "the Jay-Z of the South"),. The album's production was handled by The Neptunes, DJ Toomp, Madvac and The Grand Hustle Team. Despite the album's guests appearances and production team, the album peaked at number 98 and only sold 163,000 copies in the United States. Critics pointed to the fact that many of the tracks sounded the same and that a few were blatant rip-offs. Other critics commented saying, "T.I. claims to be the king of the South, but fails to show and prove. He does, however, have potential. If his talent ever matches his confidence, he may be headed for stardom."
Due to the poor commercial reception of the album, T.I. was dropped from Arista Records. He then formed Grand Hustle Entertainment and began releasing several mixtapes with the assistance of DJ Drama. He resurfaced in the summer of 2003, appearing on fellow Atlanta-based rapper and former label-mate Bone Crusher's hit single, "Never Scared." His mixtapes and mainstream exposure from "Never Scared", eventually recaptured major label attention and T.I. signed a joint venture deal with Atlantic Records.
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