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T.I. dishes on new album, love and success
'Trouble Man' includes all-star collaboration
Published Tuesday, December 4, 2012 5:20 pm
by Michaela L. Duckett

Rapper T.I. said recording his new album “Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head” was all about pushing himself artistically.

Rapper T.I. hosted a Charlotte listening party for his new album, "Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head."

“I’m stretching my creative limits,” he said. “I’m trying to give you something (different)… The same way I did on (the album) ‘Paper Trail’ with (the song) ‘Whatever you Like.’ I was just trying (something different), and it worked. So I’m going to keep on trying.”

Ahead of “Trouble Man’s” Dec. 18 release, the self-proclaimed “King of the South” hosted an invitation-only listening party at Label on Nov. 27, which was attended by several dozen fans and media.

Before playing a few of his favorite tracks from the album, T.I. explained its title.

“All of my album titles have been about where I was mentally and emotionally in my life,” he said. “With my last album, ‘No Mercy,’ I was in a place where I felt sorry for my (expletive) self because I had done (messed) up bad so you heard it in my music.”

With “Trouble Man,” he said he is done apologizing and has returned to doing what he does best, being himself without worrying about pleasing others.

“If trouble is a part of my life, then I’m going to be the best ‘Trouble Man’ you’ve ever seen,” he said.

The album features collaborations with Meek Mill, A$AP Rocky, Lil’ Wayne, Andre 3000, Cee-Lo Green and Akon.

T.I. also recorded a track with R. Kelly titled “Can You Learn,” about a woman standing by her man and supporting him through troubled times.

He said the collaboration with Andre 3000 for the song “Sorry” took six years to complete.

“Around the time the ‘King’ album came out, I started reaching out to Andre,” he said. “My intention was to try and get Andre and Big Boi (of Outkast) on the same record. I later found out that was not quite feasible.”

T.I. has since recorded several songs with Big Boi and says that with each record, he tried to get Andre in the studio, but nothing materialized.

“Then, he hit my phone and said he was ready,” he said. “We listened to some records, and he picked that one. He took it, and a couple of months later, my phone rung again and he said he was heading to the studio… It was just an honor and a pleasure because that is somebody that I always wanted to record with.”

In keeping with his desire to stretch himself artistically, T.I. gets inspirational on the album’s final track “Hallelujah,” which includes the words to “Jesus Loves Me.”

He said he included the track because, “You can’t get to where I am and go through what I’ve gone through without God.”

Before the party wrapped, T.I. passed the mic and took questions from the crowd. He weighed in on everything from staying relevant to President Barack Obama and even offered some love advice for the ladies. Here is some of what he had to say:

On staying relevant:
“Ever since the beginning, my whole thing has been never to portray an image that you can’t maintain on a daily basis. Certain circumstances might cause me to turn up or turn down a little bit, but my foundation and structure is the same. I think that’s what enables me to maintain because I’m not putting something out there that’s not real. I can adapt to my surroundings, but I’m still going to be me. Even if I do a pop record, I can do that and still be me. I do my version of it.”

On breaking the cycle of crime and violence:
“One thing that I am real proud of right now is that I’ve got more partners living than I do dead. I’ve got more partners now that are free than I do that are behind the wall. I’ve got some new young homies now that have never been to jail. Really the buck stops here. I’m the last person that I know that’s been to prison so hopefully I broke the cycle, and that makes me proud.”

Advice for women on keeping a man faithful:
“I think it’s up to the man. The man has to want what he’s got at home more than he wants what’s out in the streets."

On President Obama:
“The best thing that I can do for Obama while he’s in office is stay away from him. Anything that comes with me, I don’t want nowhere near him. I understand this disassociation. If I were him, I would disassociate myself from me, too.”

On balancing his career while supporting artists on his label:
“To be honest, it’s been difficult up until now because I my time has been invaded by prison sentences for the past few years. Right now moving forward, this is the beginning of a new day… I’m just trying to make sure that I’m doing my part… But I’m going to be honest; it doesn’t take T.I. for something to be there or for somebody to do their thing… If you sit around waiting on me, then your pockets shall suffer.”


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