“Hip-hop has always been about broadcasting what’s going on in the hood,” T.I. told Beats 1 host Ebro Darden. “Trap music is new, fresh, relevant, because it’s broadcasting what’s going on in the hood.” The King of the South has witnessed trap music grow from regional style to worldwide domination, and on his 10th album, Dime Trap, he takes his elder spokesman role to heart.
On T.I.’s 2001 debut, I’m Serious, his freewheeling documentation of the drug-dealing life, “Dope Boyz”, got the biggest reaction from the street; like any good hustler, he filled a need. “Seeing it was the most successful record on the album, I said, ‘Well, if that’s what they want, I’m going to give them an album full of it, and I’m gon’ call it Trap Muzik’”, he said. T.I.’s bravado and molasses drawl on songs like “24’s” and “Rubber Band Man” diversified Southern rap’s landscape. It also cemented the trap sound and glorified its attendant lifestyle, which numerous artists and fans now take for granted.
He’s been away from the street life, but his mentality stays intact. On Dime Trap, he analyzes the effects of the dope game (“Pray For Me”, “You”) and the importance of being a good family man (“The Amazing Mr. fu-Ck Up”, “Be There”). And yes, T.I. can still drop club bangers (“The Weekend”, “Laugh At Em”, “More & More”, “Jefe”). Many of his contemporaries, like Young Thug and YFN Lucci, pay respect, and Dave Chappelle is here, too, narrating T.I.’s inner monologue. “I can lay it out to you in a way you’d understand”, T.I. told Beats 1. “I can make it very vivid. And that’s the same way I feel about trap music”.