As Atlanta rapper-actor T.I. headed into court this morning to be sentenced on federal weapons charges, Vibe magazine has hit newsstands with a cover story purporting to tell “the untold story behind the deal.” The deal, that is, that kept the convicted felon out of jail for a year on a deferred sentence after being caught purchasing machine guns and silencers in a metro area Walgreen’s parking lot Oct. 13, 2007.
But in the story – titled “Cell Therapy” – the Grammy winner born Clifford Harris, Jr. basically reaffirms what he’s said previously on record (“No Matter What”), on his MTV reality show (“T.I.’s Road To Redemption”) and in various interviews since he struck the plea deal a year ago today. In short, he maintains that he did not turn anyone in to get the surprising sentence of a year and a day.
Or in street language, he did not snitch.
“Ain’t no such thing as a secret snitch,” he tells Benjamin Meadows-Ingram. “If there was, there’d be no need for the witness protection program. Pull up my agreement. It’s public record. Ain’t no way you could hide it, especially being a public figure. And as much as people saying that it is happening, don’t you think somebody would would have did the research to say, ‘Okay, look, we got proof, here it is?’ People just know that that it could have been a lot worse and they wanted it to be a lot worse, but lies will never overrule the truth.”
Instead, he says – as many people thought – he was just fortunate enough to be able to afford the kind of lawyers that could craft such a deal.
“I’m blessed to have money,” he tells Vibe. “I’m not spending it as though I’m oblivious, like before. [Expletive] said I need $3 million to get out of jail, and the lawyer told me it was half a million to represent me. I got a team of lawyers, and one lawyer said half a million! Lucky enough, I was smart enough to make some sound investments that yielded me enough of a profit to have some on-hand capital. Because if I didn’t have no cash, I’d still be locked up. If I’d have bought four more cars and balled out for five more months, I’d have been [expletive] up!”
T.I. hasn’t exactly been party-averse though. Even in this past week leading up to his “day of redemption,” he’s been spotted around the city. Sunday he rented out the entire Cascade skating rink (where much of his film “ATL” was set) and had a birthday party for one of his sons and his fiancee Tameka “Tiny” Cottle’s daughter. (R&B superstar Usher and fellow Atlantan – and teen hip-hop sensation – Soulja Boy showed, and T.I. performed).
And just last night he was reportedly at Opera nightclub in Midtown for the album release party producer Polow Da Don threw for Atlanta R&B singer Keri Hilson; where V-103’s Miss Sophia said many wished him well this next year.
As to how he plans to spend whatever free time he may have behind bars, T.I. told Vibe he still has an album worth of unreleased material left over from the recording sessions from his latest and biggest commercial CD of his career, “Paper Trail.”
(After more than six months in stores, the million-selling “Paper Trail” remains in the Top 20 of Billboard’s pop chart. It has yielded two No. 1 pop singles — “Whatever You Like” and “Live Your Life” with Rihanna — and his current million-selling single with Justin Timberlake, “Dead and Gone,” is in the No. 4 position this week on Billboard’s Hot 100 listing.)
And does he plan to rap in prison? “I don’t do too much planning” T.I. told Vibe. “You cannot predetermine these things. You get there and once you get there, at that point, you begin to figure out what it is you wanna do…The best way to not be disappointed is to not have no plans.”
Think T.I. will be missed when he turns himself in (which he is not required to do before May 19)? Interested in hearing the music that didn’t make “Paper Trail”? Did you get a chance to hear him speak this past year about the pitfalls of the criminal life he was long involved in (part of the community service his deal required)?