T.I. Flies Southern Hip-Hop Flag On CD, Film

Three days after releasing his fourth album, "King" (Atlantic), Atlanta rapper T.I. will make his film debut in "ATL," also co-starring Big Boi of OutKast.

Three days after releasing his fourth album, "King" (Atlantic), Atlanta rapper T.I. will make his film debut in "ATL," also co-starring Big Boi of OutKast. Due March 28, the album features appearances from Pharrell, Young Jeezy, Common, Kanye West, Paul Wall and Jamie Foxx, with production by Swizz Beatz and Just Blaze, among others.

"King" will be the follow-up to 2004's "Urban Legend," which peaked at No. 7 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 1.3 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The album yielded the top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hit "Bring Em Out."

"I feel like it's more open and more open-minded," T.I. tells Billboard.com of his new effort. "It's an extreme amount of growth, but [at the same time] I kept everything I knew people would like. Your favorite dish is just as good as the first time you ever had it. You just keep doing what you do, but better."

When released, "King" will mark another progression in the southern rap movement that T.I., the self-proclaimed "King of the South," says is currently dominating hip-hop. "It's in the best place it's been in as far as strength and power and numbers are concerned," he adds. "I think we've really got a stronghold on the game."

In the meantime, T.I. has released the mixtape "Gangsta Grillz: The Leak," featuring several tracks originally intended for "King." He drummed up the CD after bootlegged songs appeared on the Internet.

Several songs from "King," including lead single "What You Know," will be featured in "ATL," due March 31. In the MTV Films movie, T.I. plays the lead role of Rashad.

"It's basically a coming-of-age story about teenagers who grow up in [Atlanta], their conflicts and their situations, and how they have to overcome certain things to get from where they are to where they would like to be in life," says T.I. "Once I got into [character], it was cool. It was definitely insightful and a learning experience. I'm looking into becoming part of a few [more projects] but I have to keep it to myself until I get things finalized."

T.I., a spokesperson for Jay-Z's S. Carter sneaker line, is also in the midst of developing his own clothing and sneaker collections. "It's in the works," says T.I. "But I gotta make sure when I do it, I do it right and with the right people."