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T.I.: Witness to Murder

11/21/2008 4:45 PM, E! Online
Josh Grossberg

Looks like we might have a clue why T.I. went on a gun-shopping spree that got him in so much doo-doo. T.I.

Flanked by some serious security, the self-proclaimed King of the South took the stand today as a witness for the prosecution in the murder trial of an Ohio man accused of killing a member of T.I.'s entourage—and the rapper told a packed courtroom that he believed he was the intended target.

T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris, spent 40 minutes testifying against Hosea Thomas. The 34-year-old defendant faces a litany of charges, including murder and felonious assault, for a May 2006 shooting following a postconcert bash in Cincinnati.

According to prosecutors, the Paper Trail rapper and his crew retired to Roselawn's Club Ritz after a gig in the area, when someone tried to sneak in to the VIP section.

Music T.I Witness to Murder Video Albums Life Pictures all image new 2009

Thomas apparently got bonked in the head by a bottle during the ensuing melee. As T.I. and his entourage fled the scene, Thomas gave chase, allegedly firing at the rapper's convoy on Interstate 75.

"All of those rounds were fired for me in my opinion," the entertainer told jurors, per the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Before I know it, shots rang out. At that time, we're calling everybody's name out to see if everybody was all right."

While T.I. was unscathed, his childhood friend and assistant Philant Johnson was hit in the head and instantly killed.

"He was lifeless," the Atlanta-based hip-hopster recounted. "I saw blood running down his face. His shirt was wet. He had an entry wound in the temple, left temple."

T.I., whose singles "Live Your Life" and "Whatever You Like" rank No. 1 and No. 2 on Billboard's Hot 100, also acknowledged his own criminal past as a two-time felon stemming from convictions for possessing crack cocaine and illegal firearms.

Speaking of the latter, the rapper is due to begin serving a one-year prison term on federal weapons charges in March.

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Early life

T.I. is from Bankhead, Atlanta, Georgia. He was nicknamed "Tip" after his paternal great-grandfather.[4] Upon signing with Arista Records subsidiary LaFace Records in 2001, he shortened his name to T.I. out of respect for label mate Q-Tip.[5]

Music career

I'm Serious

His debut album I'm Serious was released on October 9, 2001 through Arista Records, which spawned the single of the same title which featured reggae vocalist Beenie Man. His debut album included Pharrell of The Neptunes (who named him the Jay-Z of the south),[6] Jazze Pha, and Youngbloodz. Production was by The Neptunes, DJ Toomp, Madvac, and The Grand Hustle Team. However, the album did not sell very well, and he was dropped from the label.

T.I. released the first single "I'm Serious" with Beenie Man. The single had little airplay and failed to chart. The label would not release another single or video for the album, so T.I. created a video for "Dope Boyz", which had not a video nor single released, but can be seen on YouTube.

He released several mixtapes with the assistance of DJ Drama, which created an underground buzz. He resurfaced in the summer of 2003 on Bone Crusher's song "Neva Scared".

Trap Muzik

T.I. released Trap Muzik in the summer 2003 through Grand Hustle Records and debuted at number four and sold 109,000 copies in its first week.[7] It spawned the singles "24s", "Be Easy", "Rubberband Man", and "Let's Get Away". The album featured guest appearances by Eightball & MJG, Jazze Pha, Bun B and Macboney and producers include Jazze Pha, Kanye West, David Banner, Madvac and DJ Toomp. The success of the album was followed by some controversy; while on tour, T.I. was charged with violating his probation over a 2003 drug charge, and turned himself in. He was sentenced to three years in prison. While there, he was granted rights to film the music video for "Let's Get Away". It sold over 1 million copies in the U.S. and was certified Platinum by the RIAA.[8]

Urban Legend

T.I. released his third album Urban Legend in late 2004.

His first single is "Bring 'Em Out", having much success. His second single is "U Don't Know Me". His third single "ASAP" reached #75 on the U.S. charts,[9] #18 on the U.S. R&B/Hip-Hop charts,[10] #14 on the Rap charts,[11] and #35 on the U.K. singles chart.[citation needed] T.I. created a video for "ASAP"/"Motivation". However, "Motivation" only made it to #62 the U.S. R&B/Hip-Hop singles chart,[12] but not on the other charts like "ASAP."

In 2006, T.I. received two Grammy Award nominations for Best Song Collaboration ("Soldier" w/ Destiny's Child & Lil Wayne) and Best Rap Solo Performance for "U Don't Know Me" at The 48th Grammy Awards.


His fourth album, King debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart in the first half of 2006, selling 522,000 copies in its first week.[13] T.I. released his promo-singles "Front Back" and "Ride with Me" before the album's release date. The singles had small attention, but it helped promote the album and his debut movie ATL. The album also included other singles, "What You Know," "Why You Wanna," "Live in the Sky," and a remix of "Top Back." King earned numerous awards and nominations including a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap Album.

"What You Know" won a "Best Rap Solo Performance" and was nominated for Best Rap Song at the 49th Grammy Awards.[14]

T.I. collaborated with Justin Timberlake for "My Love," which proved to be a worldwide hit. It earned him a Grammy Award for Best Collaboration with Justin Timberlake at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards.[14]

T.I. vs. T.I.P.

T.I. released his fifth album T.I. vs. T.I.P. on July 3, 2007.

The first single from the album was "Big Things Poppin' (Do It)" which was produced by Mannie Fresh and was released to radio stations on April 17, 2007. T.I. released a second single "You Know What It Is," featuring Wyclef Jean, on June 12, 2007.

T.I. vs. T.I.P. sold 468,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The Grand Hustle/Atlantic set is T.I.'s second chart-topper in the past year-and-a-half; King opened at number one on the Billboard 200 with 522,000 copies in late March 2006.[15] The album included guests by Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, Wyclef Jean, Nelly, and Eminem with productions by Eminem, Jeff Bass, Mannie Fresh, Grand Hustle, The Runners, Just Blaze, Wyclef Jean and Danja. This is his first album without production by long time producer DJ Toomp or The Neptunes.

On October 3, 2007, T.I. released his third single, "Hurt," featuring Busta Rhymes.

Paper Trail

T.I. released his sixth album Paper Trail on September 30, 2008. The title of the album refers to the lyrics he had written down on paper. Like many other rappers, T.I. abandoned this style of rapping after his debut album I'm Serious by just memorizing lyrics. "He wanted to take more time to really put something down (this time)," explained his rep.[16] The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 selling 568,000 copies in the United States.[17]

The first promo single off the album, "No Matter What," was released on April 29, 2008. The music video was released on June 27 on MTV's FN Premieres. The second promo single was "Swing Ya Rag" which was produced by and featured Swizz Beatz.[18] The first main single off the album "Whatever You Like," was released on July 29, and became his most successful single of his career so far, breaking the record for the highest jump to number one on the Billboard Hot 100, jumping from #71 to #1. It is T.I.'s first solo number one on the chart. The subsequent single "Live Your Life" featuring Rihanna, T.I. broke his own record on the Billboard Hot 100 when it jumped from #80 to the #1 spot.[17]

Other ventures

Acting career

In Spring 2006, T.I. starred in his first film, ATL. The other cast members included Lauren London, Antoine Patton, Evan Ross, Mykelti Williamson, Jason Weaver, and Keith David. The movie was written by Tina Gordon Chism and Antwone Fisher, produced by Timothy M. Bourne, Tionne Watkins, and Will Smith, and directed by Christopher Robinson. T.I. played the character Rashad Swann, an orphaned 17-year-old senior in high school. In its opening weekend, the film grossed a total of $11.5 million, ranking third in the United States box office, and went on to gross $21.2. It grossed a million nationwide.[19]

T.I. also appeared in American Gangster with fellow rappers Common and RZA.[20] and was featured on the soundtrack.[21]

According to HHNLive.com T.I. revealed that he is launching Grand Hustle Films. The first project from the movie division of his Grand Hustle brand is titled Once Was Lost. T.I. will star in the film alongside veteran Hollywood actor Danny Glover, who will also act as producer. Filming is scheduled to begin in October 2008.[22]

In September 2008, T.I. appeared as himself in the Entourage episode "The All Out Fall Out" as one of Ari Gold's clients.


T.I. was co-executive producer of B.G.'s upcoming album and making beats for artists like Mariah Carey, Cassidy, Rick Ross, Maino, B.o.B., Yung Joc, Young Dro, and himself.[23] He also executive produced the soundtrack to the film Hustle & Flow and released the collection through his record label.[24]

Television producing

Late 2007, T.I. linked up with Los Angeles based production company 828 Entertainment to executive produce a new reality show titled Life on Mars which chronicles the life of young prodigy music producer LaMar "MARS" Edwards.[25][26] T.I. partnered 828 Entertainment with his company Grand Hustle Records to produce a slate of both television and film projects.


Lil' Flip

According to AllHipHop,[27] T.I. and Lil' Flip had an altercation in Lil' Flip's neighborhood, the Cloverland section of Houston. It has been said that T.I. went there to create a DVD exposing Lil' Flip to be a fraud. The same day T.I. went on a Houston, Texas radio station talking about the altercation. He revealed that he had the tape and he was going to release it with an upcoming mixtape, but that didn't happen due to the fact that J. Prince stopped him from distributing the tape. It is unknown whether T.I. still has the tape or not. The feud was squashed by Rap-A-Lot's J. Prince after having them sit down and resolve their feud. The feud was documented by the Houston Press.[28]

Chaka Zulu

On June 24, 2007 at the Sunset Tower Hotel in West Hollywood, California, T.I. was involved in a brawl. During a luncheon held by Kevin Liles of Warner Music Group (parent company of T.I.'s label, Atlantic Records), the MC got into a fight with Ludacris' manager Chaka Zulu. According to witnesses, T.I. punched Zulu in the face and choked him and a small, brief melee ensued.[29]

T.I. brought home the award for Best Hip-Hop Artist at the BET Awards, and took the opportunity to apologize for his scuffle with Disturbing tha Peace executive Chaka Zulu earlier in the week. While accepting his award, he expressed regret over the situation. "They say it's a fine line between brilliance and insanity," he said, in an apparent reference to his troublesome alter ego, T.I.P. During the broadcast, cameras showed his onetime rival Ludacris smiling in the audience. The audience stood up and clapped for T.I.[30]

Shawty Lo

Rapper and D4L member Shawty Lo released his second single "Dunn Dunn" which was directly aimed at T.I. In response, T.I. made a diss track called "You Done It Now." In T.I.'s song "No Matter What" from Paper Trail, T.I. says "So you up and coming rappers wanna diss, just kill it. I'm officially the realest, point blank, period." which is directed to Shawty Lo. The album also features a song called "What Up, What's Haapnin'" that directly disses Shawty Lo with lines such as "Still I hear you loud and clear on ya lil' song, go on get ya dissin' on while the king gone" and "'Cause I yell Bankhead and you felt left out, I ain't mention yo name that's what all this 'bout?"

On May 16, 2008, Shawty Lo released a video asking anyone who knows T.I. to send him T.I.'s high school yearbook picture, saying that he wanted to prove that T.I. is not really from Bankhead. He offered cash to anyone who would.[31] T.I. continued to insult Shawty Lo, saying Shawty Lo only shows disrespect towards T.I. because he is successful.[32]

Legal issues

T.I. was on probation stemming from a 1998 conviction for violating a state controlled substances act and for giving false information. After being released on probation, he earned a litany of probation violations in several counties around Georgia for offenses ranging from possession of a firearm to possession of marijuana.[33] In 2006, after appearing in an Atlanta court on (May 10) and having charges that he threatened a man outside a strip club last year dropped for lack of evidence, T.I. was arrested on an outstanding probation violation warrant from Florida. The warrant claimed that T.I. did not complete the required number of community service hours he was sentenced for a 2003 assault of a female sheriff deputy at University Mall in Tampa. T.I. was detained by several mall Security Guards at the time of the incident, among them, Jason Phillips (founder of Certified Protective Services), Larry Warner (founder of Tactical Response Services), and Arturo Ortiz, now a security manager in Florida. According to WBS-TV Atlanta, the rapper’s attorney said that the problem was nothing more than a "technical matter" between Georgia and Florida. The confusion arose because T.I. was also sentenced to community service in Georgia for driving with a suspended license, for which he did complete 75 hours of community service in his home state. The rapper was released on bail shortly after being arrested, and was expected to surrender to Florida state authorities the following week to resolve the matter.[34]

On October 13, 2007, federal authorities arrested T.I. four hours before the BET Hip-Hop Awards. He was charged with two felonies — possession of three unregistered machine guns and two silencers, and possession of firearms by a convicted felon. The arrest was made in the parking lot of a downtown shopping center, which a witness identified as the Walgreens drug store at the corner of North and Piedmont Avenues. Harris was arrested after allegedly trying to purchase the guns from a "cooperating witness" with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. According to federal officials, the witness had been cooperating with authorities since Wednesday, when he was arrested on charges of trying to purchase guns from a federal agent. The witness had been working as Harris' bodyguard since July, authorities said.[35][36] T.I. walked out of the Atlanta United States District Court after appearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan J. Baverman on October 26, 2007. Judge Alan J. Baverman required T.I. post a $3 million bond, $2 million in cash and $1 million in equity on property he owns. The rapper was required to remain at home except for medical appointments and court appearances. The only people allowed to live with him were his girlfriend and children. Visitors were required to be approved by the court. T.I.'s suppression hearing was originally stated for January 3, 2008; however, U.S. Magistrate Alan J. Baverman pushed back the suppression hearing until February 19, 2008. The performer later pleaded guilty to US federal weapons charges. He served a year in jail after completing 1,000 hours of community service.[37]

On November 21, 2008, T.I. testified in the murder trial of his entourage Philant Johnson, who was murdered in a shooting that occurred after a post-concert party at a club.[38]

Community work

In addition to helping with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, T.I. worked with troubled youths at Paulding Detention Center in Atlanta, provided scholarships for single parent families at Boys and Girls Clubs, and headlined the Boost Mobile Rockcorps concert at New York's Radio City Music Hall, which featured such performers as Fat Joe, Slim Thug, and Kanye West, and was held exclusively for community service volunteers. In June 2005, The Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes Foundation, named for the deceased member of multi-platinum female group TLC, and Atlanta's V-103 honored T.I. with the 2005 Lisa Lopes Award for groundbreaking achievements in music and community service which was court ordered. With this steady list of growing accomplishments T.I. is being recognized as the "Jay-Z of the South," according to Pharrell Williams of multi-platinum production team The Neptunes.[39]

T.I.'s night club, Club Crucial, where he and V-103 announcer Greg Street will give away 200 bicycles to neighborhood children in the Boys and Girls Club.[40]


Main article: T.I. discography
  • I'm Serious (2001)
  • Trap Muzik (2003)
  • Urban Legend (2004)
  • King (2006)
  • T.I. vs. T.I.P. (2007)
  • Paper Trail (2008)
  • Seventh studio album (TBA)[41]


  • The O.C. (2005), himself
  • Punk'd (2005), himself
  • Entourage (2008)
  • ATL (2006), Rashad Swann
  • American Gangster (2007), Stevie Lucas
  • For Sale (2008), Omar Burgess
  • Fast & Furious (2009), Troy
  • Bone Deep (2010), TBA


Main article: List of T.I. awards

See also

  • Honorific titles in popular music
  • List of artists who reached number one in the United States


  1. ^ Imani Cheers, Crystal Holmes (September 25, 2008). The Audacity Of Hip-Hop Newsweek. Accessed October 9, 2008.
  2. ^ Andy Kellman. T.I.: Biography on MSN MSN. Accessed October 9, 2008.
  3. ^ (October 13, 2007). ATF Agents Search Home of Atlanta Rapper T.I. During BET Awards Newsweek. Accessed October 9, 2008.
  4. ^ T.I.: Me, Myself & I Vibe. Accessed October 9, 2008.
  5. ^ Hillary Crosley (May 1, 2007). It's Summer Time With T.I., 'T.I.P.' Billboard. Accessed October 9, 2008.
  6. ^ (December 21, 2004). Vibe Cover Story: T.I. - King of the South? Vibe. Accessed October 9, 2008.
  7. ^ Katie Hasty (April 5, 2006). T.I. Rules As 'King' Of Album Chart Billboard. Accessed October 9, 2008.
  8. ^ Gold & Platinum - Search Results RIAA. Accessed October 9, 2008.
  9. ^ "Artist Chart History - T.I." on Billboard.com, Neilsen Business Media, Inc., 2008.
  10. ^ "Artist Chart History - T.I." on Billboard.com, Neilsen Business Media, Inc., 2008.
  11. ^ "Artist Chart History - T.I." on Billboard.com, Neilsen Business Media, Inc., 2008.
  12. ^ "Artist Chart History - T.I." on Billboard.com, Neilsen Business Media, Inc., 2008.
  13. ^ Katie Hasty (April 5, 2006). T.I. Rules As 'King' of Album Chart Billboard. Accessed October 9, 2008.
  14. ^ a b "49th Annual Grammy Awards Winners List". Grammy. Retrieved on 2008-11-22.
  15. ^ Hasty, Katy (2007-07-11). "T.I. Is Top Dog Again On The Billboard 200", Billboard magazine. Retrieved on 11 July 2007.
  16. ^ XXLmag.com - T.I. recording new album while on house arrest (November 12, 2007)
  17. ^ a b Katie Hasty (October 8, 2008). T.I. Debuts Big Atop Billboard 200, Hot 100 Billboard. Accessed October 8, 2008.
  18. ^ "Swing Ya Rag" single cover. Accessed July 11, 2008.
  19. ^ "ATL Box Office"
  20. ^ "T.I. To Star With Oscar Favorites Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe"
  21. ^ "Common Exclusive: MC To Act Alongside Angelina Jolie In Ultra-Violent 'Wanted'"
  22. ^ "T.I. To Star With Danny Glover; Readies Grand Hustle Films"
  23. ^ "Tip Goes In"
  24. ^ "Hustle & Flow" Earns Oscar for Original Song for "It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp"
  25. ^ Life On Mars
  26. ^ T.I. to Produce New Reality Show
  27. ^ All Hip Hop. ""Sources Say Lil Flip And TI Have Physical Confrontation"". Retrieved on January 20, 2007.
  28. ^ Houston Press. ""Where's the Beef? Right here in H-town"". Retrieved on January 20, 2007.
  29. ^ Shaheem Reid (June 25, 2007). T.I., Ludacris' Manager Get Into Scuffle At Industry Event MTV. Accessed October 3, 2008.
  30. ^ T.I. Takes Home BET Award, Apologizes for Scuffle
  31. ^ Shawty Lo wants T.I.'s yearbook picture. Accessed May 14, 2008.
  32. ^ "HHWorlds.com" - T.I. gives Shawty Lo A Late Jab (August 2, 2008)
  33. ^ MTV News. ""T.I. Sentenced 3 Years in Prison"". Retrieved on January 9, 2007.
  34. ^ XXL. ""T.I. Briefly Jailed for Probation Violation"". Retrieved on January 9, 2007.
  35. ^ T.I. arrested in ATL on weapons charges
  36. ^ DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE PRESS RELEASE: On arrest of rapper T.I. for possession of illegal firearms
  37. ^ HHWorlds.com - Update: T.I.'s Suppression Hearing Pushed Postponed (January 3, 2008)
  38. ^ "T.I. Testifies At Ohio Murder Trial". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc (2008-11-21). Retrieved on 2008-11-21.
  39. ^ Hip Hop Game. ""T.I.'s Artist Page At Hip Hop Game"". Retrieved on January 20, 2007.
  40. ^ Access Atlanta. ""More Good Deeds by Atlanta's T.I."". Retrieved on December 25, 2006.
  41. ^ 50 Cent Steals A Dr. Dre Beat From Eminem; T.I. Choosing Paper Trail Follow-Up's Title: Mixtape Monday. MTV.com. Accessed November 10, 2008.

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