How Rapper T.I. Built His $50 Million Empire

Clifford Joseph Harris Jr., professionally known as T.I. and TIP, is a native of Bankhead, Atlanta, Georgia and is among one of the originators of the Dirty South style of rap known as Trap Music, that has spawned other rap extraordinaire such as Ludacris, Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, and Mater P. His resume as a rap artist, however, speaks for itself, as he has featured multiple artists on his albums, such as Iggy Azaela, Travis Scott, Meek Mill, Justin Timberlake, and Rihanna. Let’s take a closer look at the life, career, and enduring success of T.I.

The Grand Come-Up

A post shared by TIP (@troubleman31)

Born on September 25, 1980, T.I. knew from the tender age of nine years old that he wanted to be a rap musician. Ten years later, he would sign his first record deal with LaFace Records, a subsidiary of Arista Records. Not many fans know, but T.I was the second artist stage name option that he chose. The first was actually TIP, a name which he was dubbed as a child. But put of respect for another rapper who joined the same company, Q-Tip, he shortened it to T.I., and so the legend was born. Shortly after signing with the record label, he released his debut album, I’m Serious, in October 2001, which saw moderate success. But the ATL rapper wasn’t daunted. Instead, he quit his agreement with LaFace Records and set out to begin his own record label, Grand Hustle Records, under which he released his first underground CD, In Da Streets. His first independent project did reasonably well, selling over 200,000 copies. Following this success, there began to be a buzz created around his name, in addition to the collaboration he made with Bone Crusher and Killer Mike in Never Scared, which brought him much attention in the music video.

Climbing The Ladder

A post shared by TIP (@troubleman31)

Sensing the momentum he had been gathering in the rap world, he went ahead to sign with Atlantic Records and produced his next album, Trap Musik, in August 2003. It’s on this album that you can find some of his most popular hit songs, such as Rubber Band Man and Let’s Get Away. Due to his persistence and determination for musical success, the album ranked fourth on The Billboard Hot 100 chart and number two on The Billboard Top R&B Hip-Hop chart. At this level, T.I. made a name for himself as a rugged and gritty yet charming and business-savvy hustler who had a bite to go along with his bark. He easily became one of the most electrifyingly gifted rappers of the South in 2003.

But it appears he had only just begun to make his stamp on the music industry. In 2004, he embarked on his next album project, entitled Urban Legend, which featured collaborations with other rappers from the South, such as B.G., Lil’ Wayne, and the late Mannie Fresh. This album proved even more victorious, selling over 13 million copies in the US alone and topping the Billboard Top R&B Hip Hop chart. Urban Legend ended up going double platinum, giving it the title of the fastest-selling album from a South rapper in history. A few of the trap rapper’s most successful singles can be found on the album, such as U Don’t Know Me, Bring ‘Em Out, and ASAP. The self-proclaimed “King of the South” even won a Grammy nomination in 2006 for Best Rap Solo Performance with U Don’t Know Me.

A post shared by TIP (@troubleman31)

From The Music Scene To The Movie Screen

Now, what is a thriving rap career without an equally thriving movie career? It’s almost a given that almost every successful mainstream rapper in the music industry ends up transitioning to Hollywood. All the greats have done it, from Tupac Shakur and Ja Rule to 50 Cent and DMX. And the same trend followed with T.I., who was cast in a number of movies after solidifying himself as one of Atlanta’s most valuable rappers.

So in 2006, which was the same year of the release of his next album entitled King, T.I. made his grand entrance into the movie industry with his role in the Warner Bros film production, ATL, in which he starred alongside Lauren London, rapper Big Boi, Jackie Long, Jason Weaver, Keith David, and Evan Ross. The movie was a success, grossing $21 million at the box office on a $7 million budget. His second movie appearance placed him on screen with some of Hollywood’s elite actors, like Denzel Washington, Russel Crowe, Idris Elba, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Cuba Gooding Jr. in American Gangster. Although he was off to a much slower start in his movie career compared to his music career, T.I. still made the 2007 Forbes list of the most top 20 hip-hop earning artists in the business. And that was all thanks to his prolific album releases and movie appearances.

A post shared by TIP (@troubleman31)

Another TV appearance T.I. may be most known for is his VH1 reality show titled T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle. The show aired in 2012 and starred the King of The South himself, along with his wife and former Xscape member, Tameka “Tiny” Cottle. After an opening season of successful viewer ratings, the show was renewed for a second season. With music being his first passion, T.I. continued producing rap albums and making hit singles, such as “Live Your Life” featuring Rihanna and “Dead and Gone” featuring Justin Timberlake. Today, at 41 years old, T.I. can rest easy knowing that the “Grand Hustle” turned into the grand lifestyle he has been able to afford himself and his family.

RELATED: T.I. And Tiny Are Building Affordable Housing Solutions For The Needy

NEXT: 10 Rappers Who Are Also Successful Actors

Sources:, CheatSheet

Source: Read Full Article