TIP 'T.I.' HARRIS
(Julian), known professionally and internationally as an accomplished
film and television actor, Hollywood producer, record label mogul,
philanthropist, author, apparel line owner and superstar rapper, is in
the business of prophecy. When the Bankhead, Atlanta, native
--- originally nicknamed Tip by his grandfather ---
proclaimed to be "King of the South" on his debut album, I'M SERIOUS
(2000), much of the hip-hop community resisted. What
naysayers were even more clueless about was that, at the young age of
19, the kid who would eventually pioneer the subgenre "Trap Rap" had an
audacity that surpassed the four walls of the recording booth.
The 32-year-old's plan has always been to maximize every opportunity
and diversify the Grand Hustle Records portfolio. Harris'
journey toward destiny demanded that step one be to attain independence
by any means necessary. In 2003, he teamed up with manager
and partner Jason Geter to give birth to Grand Hustle
Records. Ten years, six multiplatinum albums and several
Grammys later, not one Grand Hustle album or single has returned to the
paltry sales of I'M SERIOUS, proving that the talent and knowledge of
the self-titled "Rubberband Man" arcs from a lyrical to business
In the vein of previous historic indie hip-hop empires, such as No
Limit and Roc-A-Fella Records, Grand Hustle began expanding its
business with an artist roster that didn't need its franchise player
and coach as a crutch. What started with Young Dro's 2006
breakout hit "Shoulder Lean," the label found its second superstar in
B.o.B, whose debut album "B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray,"
became a chart-topping, multiplatinum and Grammy-nominated success.
As Harris navigates nonstop down the roads of success and riches, it's
quite evident that music is the engine in his vehicle -— albeit, when
viewed through a wider lens, beats and rhymes are just the tip of a
FORBES-recognized iceberg. Since executive producing the
soundtrack for 2005's Academy Award-winning HUSTLE & FLOW and
making his critically acclaimed acting debut in the gem ATL, Harris has
gone from state property to Hollywood catnip. In less than
five years, he's found himself a part of motion-picture treasures,
including as a co-star alongside film greats Denzel Washington and Ruby
Dee in 2007's AMERICAN GANGSTER. In 2010, Harris upped his
stock when he wore both executive producer and thespian hats for the
No. 1 box-office opener TAKERS, which boasted an ensemble of star
power, including Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba, Paul Walker, Michael Ealy and
Ambidextrous with his Hollywood hustle, Harris has simultaneously
scored on the big and small screens. Primetime television
audiences got their first taste of the platinum artist on his 2009 MTV
docu-series T.I.'S ROAD TO REDEMPTION, which filmed Harris visiting
troubled teens in hopes of steering them away from the same criminal
pitfalls he fell victim to. In 2011, he invited viewers into
his home when he teamed up with VH1 on T.I. & TINY: THE FAMILY
HUSTLE, which took Harris' television profile to new heights and
transformed his family into an extension of his regal court.
The second season of T.I. & TINY premiered on September 3,
2012, to record-breaking ratings for the network, all while Harris'
latest acting role was already in play.
For the second season of the Starz original series BOSS, starring
Kelsey Grammer and Sanaa Lathan, the Renaissance man took on his first
primetime role, as Trey Rogers, a former gangbanger who uses his street
clout to influence Chicago politics. Harris' greatest year as
a thespian, thus far, continued in October 2012, when he guest-starred
on an episode of the CBS drama HAWAII FIVE-O.
While music is one of many grand ventures in the world of Harris -— a
world where he's also cultivated his own fashion line, AKOO (A King of
Oneself); fed and raised thousands of dollars for thousands of hungry
Georgians on Thanksgiving; fought Alzheimer's through the charity he
created with Tiny, For the Love of Our Fathers; and authored the
Harpers/Collins novels POWER & BEAUTY: A LOVE STORY OF LIFE ON
THE STREETS and its successor TROUBLE & TRIUMPH: A NOVEL OF
POWER & BEAUTY, which he co-authored with NEW YORK TIMES
best-selling writer David Ritz --- it is the driving force behind his
This is why there isn't a business deal or contract offer more
important to Harris than his eighth studio album, TROUBLE MAN: HEAVY IS
THE HEAD, which boasts a sterling guest list of names, such as R.
Kelly, CeeLo Green, Andre 3000 and P!nk, and production from longtime
collaborators Pharrell and DJ Toomp. Anyone doubting that a
black man as wealthy and diversely accomplished as Harris can still be
a motivational voice for the disenfranchised in a recession-struck
America needs to consume his latest singles, the T-Minus-produced "Go
Get It" and "Ballin'," featuring Lil Wayne. Those with the
baseless notion that the Trouble Man is too removed by Hollywood to
channel the Rubberband Man need just one listen of the electric "Trap
Back Jumpin" to learn the truth. Then again, all
aforementioned disbelievers are most likely the same folks who didn't
believe the Southern crown would land in Bankhead, Atlanta.