T.I. & Jason Geter
In April 2011, with its star rapper and co-CEO Clifford "T.I." Harris Jr. still serving a 10-month prison stint for violating terms of his probation stemming from gun charges, the Atlanta-based, Atlantic Records-distributed Grand Hustle was rumored to be in the process of self-combusting. "Grand Hustle is definitely not dismantled," co-CEO and T.I.'s longtime manager Jason Geter told Billboard at the time. "We unfortunately did downsize [the staff] and relocate. We're doing business, just in a lighter way, a smarter way, due to our current situation."
Fast-forward 14 months, and that situation has changed. Since T.I. was released from prison last August, Grand Hustle has issued Atlanta rapper B.o.B's sophomore album, Strange Clouds, which spawned three top 20 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and has moved 164,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Meanwhile, T.I. previewed his eighth studio album, Trouble Man, due Sept. 4 on Grand Hustle/Atlantic, with the single "Love This Life," which has sold 93,000.
T.I., who partnered with management firm Hip Hop Since 1978 last year, remains admirably diversified, putting his energies into his upcoming album, his VH1 reality show ("T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle"), his next literary venture (his second novel through HarperCollins, "Trouble & Triumph: A Novel of Power & Beauty," arrives Sept. 18) and film opportunities (he was cast in the Jason Bateman comedy "Identity Thief" last month). And Grand Hustle continues to expand through a new deal with Houston rapper Trae Tha Truth's ABN Entertainment and upcoming projects from Australian MC Iggy Azalea, English rapper Chip and teen girl group OMG Girlz. "More than anything for Grand Hustle, we've just been rebuilding the brand and bringing in fresh young talent," says Geter, who has also been expanding his power base as an A&R consultant for Epic Records. - Jason Lipshutz