In the new comedy “Identity Thief” rapper T.I. plays a gun-toting mercenary named Julian who is hot on the trail of scam artist Diana (Melissa McCarthy) and her reluctant travel companion Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman).
The timing of the film piggybacks on the release of his eighth studio album, “Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head.” It’s Tip’s first official project since serving 11 months in prison for a parole violation. The collection toes the line between his traptastic “I’m Serious” persona and the mature, accessible T.I. that fans see on the big and small screen.
T.I.’s reality show with his wife and family “T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle” has had two successful seasons on VH1 and effectively filled the void left by Reverend Run and his “Run’s House” series. Tip also appeared on Kelsey Grammar’s show “Boss” as Trey Rogers, a hustler with political aspirations.
Most recently, T.I. was the focus of rumors that he was in a bidding war for his services since his contract with label Atlantic Records was almost up.
So TheUrbanDaily.com got on the phone with The Rubberband man during a junket for his new film to clear the air on everything from the label rumors, gun control and his appearance in fellow rapper Shawty-Lo’s controversial reality TV show pilot to that awkward chorus on “Say Hello.”
TUD: How did you get involved with this movie, “Identity Thief?”
T.I.: I was alerted of the opportunity by my manager Brian Sher of Category Five Entertainment. We’ve been sitting down with the producer Scott Stuber for quite some time. Scott produced other films like “Ted,” “Battleship” and “Safe House.” The script came my way and I had a meeting with [Director] Seth [Gordon] and from there it was just about showing up, taking advantage and maximizing [the opportunity]. The stage was already set with Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman. They’re such huge comedic presences in the world of comedy. I was just happy to be along for the ride.
This is now your fourth feature film. How do you think you did?
I’m highly critical of myself. I’m a role player for the most part so I’m just happy to be able to contribute to the team. It was about not screwing it up and just add some value wherever I can. And I think I was fortunate enough to able to do so.
Have you ever been a victim of identity theft?
Not that I can recall. Nothing significant enough for me to remember. I’m sure everybody at some point in time has some had some kind of identity situation in this day and age. But nothing significant enough where someone bought a car or anything like that. Thank God for that.
On the smaller screen you recently made a cameo appearance in Shawty Lo’s much talked about reality show…
Actually I did not make a cameo. Simply because…I was just working out. I was running and cars pulled up and that just happened to be who was inside. I wasn’t showing up to make a cameo for anything. They just happened to be in the area where we were working out and it just happened that way.
Thank you for clarifying. But as a father and man with a reality show of your own, what do you think about the response to the “All My Babies Mamas” show?
I don’t think I’m justified to really speak on it, man. That’s not my family. That’s his life and his story to tell. If he’s willing to tell it and the people are willing to watch it that’s between them. I think that should be left up to him and the people who it effects the most, his family. If they’re cool with it…that’s what should be on everybody’s mind.
On your new album “Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head”,“Say Hello” with Cee-Lo is one of my favorite tracks but I had a question; If someone is in your rearview wouldn’t you be saying “Good-bye” as opposed to “Hello”?
“Just keep going, and don’t look back
And look forward from where you’re at
There’s some jealousy in your rearview
Wave hello, hello, hello…” -Cee-Lo, on T.I.’s”Say Hello”
We all took notice of that when we were making the song; myself, Cee-Lo and Pharrell as well. We all acknowledged that fact but we felt like the sentiment was appropriate enough that people will draw their own conclusion. It’s saying hello to the future and good-bye to bullsh*t at the same time. When you tell the haters ‘hello’ it’s the haters of tomorrow. You wave good-bye to the haters of yesterday and your future will be bright. Any bright future will be filled with new haters so you gonna wave hello to the new ones and good-bye to the old ones. Sort of like an ‘aloha’ if you will. [laughs] ‘Aloha’ is hello and good-bye at the same damn time.