I’ll admit-I wasn’t much of a T.I. fan until fairly recently. Despite all the “King of the South” talk, I didn’t find Tip’s music all that thrilling. Shit, if the title is based on rhyme skills alone, I wouldn’t even put the guy in contention-not as long as Cee-Lo, Ludacris and both members of OutKast are still alive and rapping. On top of that, I’ve always felt that the whole trap-rapper thing is kinda exploitative and damaging to our people. Dudes like him and Jeezy are basically selling out our community for the sake of fattening their own bank account.

However, after T.I. got popped a couple years back for buying an arsenal of illegal guns, the fact that he seemed contrite and serious about getting his shit together struck me and I gave the guy’s music another chance. Surprisingly, I found myself digging the dude. Of course, you also have to consider the  fact that his rhymes suddenly got a LOT tighter. Sitting at home under house arrest sharpened his skill set a great deal (not least for the fact that he actually decided to compose songs as opposed to going off the top of his head Jay-Z style), and “Paper Trail” officially put me on team T.I.

So, the fact that he (and his wife Tameka “Tiny” Cottle, formerly of Xscape) got popped for drug possession the other day makes my head spin. If you want to look up the word “careless” (or the word “idiot”) in the dictionary, you might just see T.I.’s picture. The fact that something like this could even happen erases just about all the goodwill I had for the guy.

Of course, this is America, and you are innocent until proven otherwise. So there is a part of me that’s temporarily giving T.I. the benefit of the doubt. After all, you have to take any arrest that the LAPD makes with a grain of salt. Also, keep in mind that the Hip-Hop Cops are out in full effect. Yes, rich and famous Black folks are still targets. Yes, rappers are still targets (although one would have to think that glorifying criminal activity and the criminal lifestyle makes you more of a target, no?) So I’m keeping an open mind in the hopes that this is revealed to be a setup, because there’s no WAY  T.I. could be that stupid. Right? Right??

Brother let’s talk for a second, OK? You are a CONVICTED FELON. On top of that, you are currently on PROBATION. Who could be so dumb as to do anything illegal with the threat of getting locked up for a long-ass time hanging over your head? Knowing all of this, what would possess you to even put yourself in a situation where you would do or be around anything even vaguely, remotely illegal? Were you that in need of a toke (or a sip, or the popping of a pill) that you couldn’t wait till you got home to party? Did you really have to bust an illegal U-ey with the knowledge that you had drugs in your ride? Were you that pressed for time that you couldn’t exit the right way? (in Ed Lover voice) C’MON SON!!!!!

You’ve also got to wonder what kind of sense of entitlement T.I. has that could rationalize a situation like this, especially after he got a plum deal on the weapons charge? Like, would  Average Joe get off with house arrest and a year in the slammer on a similar charge? I’m not a lawyer, I can’t answer that question. But does that sound like the type of bid a convicted felon (keep in mind that T.I. had already done serious time at least twice PRIOR to the weapons charge) would get for such a serious charge? Keep in mind that it’s not like dude was buying ONE gun. Dude was trying to go out like Rambo. I don’t think so. As much as I hate to agree with anything Curtis Jackson says, 50’s idea that T.I. helped the feds out in order to avoid serious time is quite plausible. If not, then the guy’s celebrity had to be a contributing factor to the relative slap on the wrist he got.

You know what pisses me off most? Folks don’t realize how fortunate they are. If I had T.I.’s criminal record, I wouldn’t be able to get a fucking JOB (if I was even allowed to be on the streets), much less tour the world, sell millions of records and star in Hollywood films. This guy has continually had the world offered to him on a silver platter over the past few years and squanders his blessings time and time again. Do I think T.I. should get locked up over a possession charge? No, I think drug laws are too damn stiff anyway. However, in light of his lengthy criminal history and his apparent refusal to learn anything from the myriad opportunities he’s gotten to redeem himself (and if the charges turn out to be legit), I wouldn’t shed a single tear if a judge decided to make an example out of T.I. and send Mr. Harris’s stupid ass to jail for a long, long time.

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