Almost immediately after he finished a jail bid for gun charges in March, T.I. set out to reclaim his status as a hip-hop king — hitting the mixtape circuit and huddling in the studio with Lady Gaga and Swizz Beatz. But that doesn’t mean jail wasn’t a serious setback.
“It did make me worse in a sense. … Putting me in prison took me off [a positive] path a little bit, and now I’m working to get back on that path — or at least back on the path to the extent that I was before I went in,” T.I. told Complex magazine. Before heading to jail, T.I. was serving part of his sentence by counseling at-risk kids and notched over 200 speaking engagements warning young people about violence on the MTV show “Road to Redemption.”
T.I., who is on the cover of the magazine’s August/September issue, says that the jail atmosphere definitely took its toll. “I lost a little bit of my positive focus during that period of incarceration. Being in that environment and having those daily surroundings, it’s going to affect you.”
One result was that he actually tuned out when it came to music. “I didn’t listen much to records when I was in there. Music is what I do every day. That made me more homesick than anything,” he said. Instead, T.I. logged lots of TV hours to pass the time. “I watched series like ‘Sons of Anarchy.’ I’m a fan. It’s another form of ‘The Sopranos’ to me. I watched football and ESPN.” But, the most popular show on the cellblock — “True Blood” — held no appeal for him.
“I couldn’t really [watch it]. They got into that sh– heavy,” T.I. said. “The whole prison damn near shut down. Everybody left off the yard, like, ‘ “True Blood” coming on!’ They went crazy for it — there’s a bunch of sex in it, so they were tuning in for that.”
T.I.’s King Uncaged drops in September