It’s always fun to catch up with T.I., because he’s always doing something. The rapper-actor-mogul just delivered a hilarious (albeit short) cameo in the Entourage film, his executive produced TV series Sisterhood Of Hip-Hop is embarking on its second season, and he just kicked off the fifth season of his VH1 show T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle. Add to that a completed 10th studio album just waiting in the wings to be released, and yeah, Tip is a busy guy. He takes a moment to break his schedule down for Billboard, which includes more movies, more music, and working on Travi$ Scott‘s upcoming project (which may include a Kanye West cameo).
The second season of Sisterhood of Hip-Hop starts June 9, and we hear you’re actually showing up this season.
I’m really ecstatic to present another season of Sisterhood of Hip-Hop to the public. I think these young ladies are on journeys that should be paid attention to. They’re all diligently honing their craft and perfecting their talent to the point where they can fulfill their dreams and destinies.
I think it’s funny that you come in this season to mentor Diamond, but it’s ironic because she probably has the longest career out of any of the other girls on the show and she needs a mentor at this point. What’s that about?
Diamond and I, we’ve known each other personally as well as professionally since she was a youngin’, when she was working with Scrappy. When she got older and went solo, she and my wife [Tameka “Tiny” Cottle-Harris] established a relationship. So, we are familiar with one another, and she just really called me to kind of pick my brain on how she should proceed in certain areas of business given her current circumstances. So, you know, if any of the young ladies needed to call me, I would have definitely made myself available. I’ve had some offline conversations — not on camera, though — with Siya and the other ladies as well.
After watching the first season — and I’m sure you saw episodes as they were happening — did you feel like you wanted to jump in immediately and help them or were you like, ‘You know what, they’ve got to learn for themselves on some of these things’?
You have to let the actual lesson take place. If you interrupt the lesson, you devalue the moment I believe. If I would have been turned to and someone said, ‘Hey, what you think about this?’ then I would have definitely given an honest opinion. However, I wouldn’t just volunteer information as long as I kind of see that they’re taking the natural progressions to reach a certain place of reason. I wouldn’t want to interrupt that because I feel that everyone has to take their own steps in their journey to reach their destination.
Absolutely. What made you decide to want to appear in this season as opposed to last season?
Last season I wanted the young ladies to establish their own… I thought that was the most important thing — for them to begin their career or establish their career in their own right as professionals, as artists, as entertainers and as young women.
That makes a lot of sense. On an acting side, you’re the funniest guy in Entourage. Every time someone tweets about it, they’re like, ‘The Entourage movie was amazing. T.I. was the funniest guy in the film!’ What’s your cameo like in that film for those who haven’t seen it yet?
Basically what we did was… I don’t want to ruin it too much, man. I don’t want to ruin it. It’s a phenomenal film. It’s loaded — I’m talking about to the brim — with A-list cameos. The most cameos I’ve ever seen in a movie! It’s an awesome plot, a phenomenal story. Entourage, the story and the legacy, the franchise has been so significant to pop culture and our generation particularly. It’s a must see, and I don’t think anyone will be disappointed.
Do you have an entourage, or is it just that your family is so gigantic that they qualify as your entourage?
To be honest with you, I think everyone has an entourage. Even people who work a 9-5, when you go to lunch, you probably have a group of people that you go leave with and you kick it. Everyone has an entourage! I’m no different. I have a group of people that I get busy around, that I am most comfortable around and who are most familiar with me and who understand my nonsense more than the rest of the world. Of course I do.
So are you the Vince Chase of hip-hop, Tip?
[Laughs] I should be so lucky.
Do you see various members of your team in those characters, though?
Yeah, absolutely. We always refer to my partner T-rod as Turtle. And my homeboy Doug, we’re always calling him E.
But you’ve got to kind of double as Vince and Ari because you’re also a businessman, so it’s kind of interesting. You’ve got to play different roles, because when you’re trying to sign people to Grand Hustle, you’ve got to get your Ari on too, right?
Absolutely, but we do have an Ari just as well. Brian Sher is my Ari. Brian Sher, he’s been my partner, friend, brother, manager and agent since my first meeting in ATL. We’ve crawled, scratched, kicked and fought our way to right where we are at this present moment. Hopefully we can be able to take advantage of a lustrous film career.
Are you still on schedule for a new album this year?
Actually the new album’s finished! I just have to figure out when I’ll have time to actually market it and promote it and work it. Presently we’re working on Bankroll Mafia. Bankroll Mafia is a collective that includes a lot of personal and professional constituents throughout the industry, in and out of our elements. One of them being Shad da God, another one being myself and another one being Young Thug, and a host of other young people with talent. We’re very colorful characters in this business and you should be hearing some music very soon.
Is it hard for you to balance movies, music and TV in 24 hours in a day?
It’s difficult because, like I said, I have an album right now ready to go but I don’t have any actual time to invest in the marketing, promotions and all of the work that goes into releasing it. I’m about to start a film with Jamie Foxx in Atlanta in the next couple weeks, and that should take me somewhere into August. And I believe then I’m about to start another film that I can’t necessarily mention right now, but that film should take me into like September or October. So it’s hard for me. I could just drop it right now and not necessarily put any work into the release, but I don’t think that would really serve the true purpose of the release.
Plus, the fifth season of The Family Hustle just started.
Yeah, we’re ecstatic about the warm reception about season five, and we believe that this season is going to be our best season. I think a lot more of the kids are much more involved in things. They know what to say, they know how they like to present themselves, they know what storylines they would most rather be included in and so on and so forth. It’s becoming a lot more entertaining.
That’s cool that you’re giving them the flexibility to really find themselves on camera.
What we wanted to do was create a platform and we wanted to make the cameras available. The cameras are available and what you choose to do with them and how you choose to present yourself, that’s your own personal journey. Of course we’re not going to allow you to do anything that’s inappropriate or a misrepresentation of you or us, but you still have to go through your own personal journey to find which side of yourself you’d like to present first. And then they find it, and as they find it, we’ll do our best to kind of help them mold and hone their craft to the best of their ability.
That makes a lot of sense. So are you going to take any time off this summer?
No! No time off. We have so much work to do, so many people to create opportunities for! A young man by the name of Travi$ Scott — he’s an artist of ours — he’s about to release his album at the end of the summer. It’s probably going to be one of the most talked about projects and probably one of the most highly revered solo albums probably since Kendrick [Lamar]. Not in the same vein as Kendrick, but just in a whole other badass, rebellious, “fuck you,” grown people kind of way. He just allowed me the opportunity to listen to it and I was blown away. And I think everybody else will be all the same.
Any Kanye West on there?
Yes, there’s conversations of it.