Is T.I. the Stringer Bell of hip-hop?
Today, Tip Harris chopped it up with Nick Cannon for an extensive conversation. Off the bat, Nick Cannon sets the tone with an anecdote from Tip's come-up. "I was introduced to you in the nineties," reflects Cannon. "I remember back in the day, when I was in Atlanta trying to get my shit rocking, I would see Tip in the club. Freestyling! When I say freestyling, I mean 'bar-bars.' This is a street dude just going crazy in the mic." Cannon proceeds to cite an old school Tip cut called "Pu**y Pumper #1," which he praises as a joint to remember. "From that day, I was a fan." His fandom didn't stop Cannon from beating Tip out for the lead role in Drumline, which both parties still recall with varying degrees of fondness.
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"You want to talk about the fun time you beat me, huh n***?" laughs T.I, who eventually acquiesces that Nick was "much better." "You actually learned how to play the drums," he continues. "I didn't plan on doing that. I had to get ATL. My movie was better than yours." After spurring a brief discussion, Cannon continues to praise Tip's mogul-esque nature, praise that T.I returns in kind. "People kind of expected big things from me," he jokes, "I fu*k with Nick, I love him. He's truly one of the most respected brothers in the game for being completely square."
There's an interesting moment when Cannon alludes to Tip being compared to Malcolm X, which elicits a staunch refusal from the rapper. "Hell no!" says Tip. "Who the hell went and did some bullshit like that? I don't have enough to sacrifice to be compared to Malcolm X." Tip admits he's still on that paper trail, and has all intentions of using said paper to make the people around him a better place.
Eventually, the pair move the discussion to Trap Music, and T.I. makes sure to give credit where credit is due, though still retaining ownership status. "I don't think there's been a debate," he says. "People have been giving an opinion based on their taste level. You watch The Wire? You do know that Stringer Bell and Avon Barksdale hold the same amount of weight, they produce the same amount of action and activity. They just go about it in different ways. Stringer Bell has a vision beyond his present circumstances and is working toward a certain goal. Avon Barksdale loves what he is so much, he leaves everything on the court.
"People who appreciate Barksdale, they going to tell you Gucci Mane started trap," he continues. "But that because of how they see themselves in life. There's nothing you can do to change that. People who see themselves as a Stringer Bell, who have different visions and ambitions for themselves, they know that T.I. created Trap Music. The only thing about this group of people is, they're supported by facts. That's why it's not a debate. The word Trap and Music had never been combined to describe a sound before August 19th, 2003 - Trap Muzik." As for his own Mount Rushmore, Tip stands firm in his assessment of himself, Guwop, and Jeezy.