Growing up on the streets leads to limited options for success.
Day to day survival becomes a chore in and of itself, leading the desperate into the “Trap” of drug sales.
While the financial rewards remain plentiful, the risks outweigh the monetary incentives.
“Trappin” is something that Atlanta based rapper T.I. has experienced first hand.
The pitfalls of the lifestyle are expressed in his new album Trap Muzik.
“It’s not just the distribution of drugs, there’s a whole lifestyle that goes along with ‘Trappin’.'”
An album revolving around a single concept, Trap Muzik contains an assortment of perspectives that encompass the breadth of T.I.’s street intellect.
“It ain’t catered towards anything,” T.I. said. “I just wrote music that deals with that lifestyle and all aspects of that lifestyle; what goes through [a dealer’s] head before he makes a move, things he do, things he should do, things he should have done.
“These people who are in these traps, they still have lives, moms, dads, just like everybody else.
They got mouths to feed, responsibilities just like me and you. You shouldn’t look at them as monsters, ain’t nobody perfect.”
Not only did he survive the streets of Atlanta, T.I. also survived the harsh business realities of the rap industry.
After Arista records released his debut, I’m Serious, to glowing reviews, the album sadly vanished from the scene.
Arista dropped T.I. before his full potential could be realized.
These setbacks didn’t stop the rapper from independently distributing two albums on his own label, Grand Hustle.
To T.I., his struggles proved beneficial. “It was a learning process.”
Seeing the ups and downs of the industry gave T.I. a keen business sense.
“With ownership we have a lot more say so in delivering our music the way we think it should be delivered,”T.I. said. We spendin’ our own money so of course we know how much we got to spend and what we’re spending it on. The independent albums were promoted better than the first one!”
This amount of creative control found its way into T.I.’s new deal with Atlantic records and is a welcome change of pace from the traditional ways of making music in the industry.
“We’re not letting [the album] be dictated by the suits at the label who ain’t even in the streets, period,” T.I. said.
On Trap Muzik, T.I. is aided by an impressive roster of producers including Jazze Pha, David Banner and Kanye West. “Versatile,” is how T.I. describes the production. “I’m not going to say, ‘Lets make a club record,’ or, ‘Lets make a single.'”
You just make music and wherever it can be placed, place it there.” Guest MCs on the record include 8Ball, MJG and Bun-B; some of T.I.’s idols growing up.
“We have a similar background. They came from the streets, I came from the streets,” T.I. said.
T.I. unabashedly refers to himself as the “King of the South,” but he finds his music accessible to anyone.
“The whole world is a ghetto. I make urban rap music. If you from the hood, it don’t matter where you from. There’s dope dealin’, killin’, robbin’, stealin’ goin’ on everywhere.”
Robert Sumner can be reached at email@example.com.