T.I. is officially a free agent. Now that his decade-long contract with Atlantic Records has expired, the Grand Hustle front man is in search of a more lucrative deal and bankrolling all of his musical endeavors for the time being.
The rapper broke down his business practices in an exclusive interview with Billboard. "Let it be known: I am a free agent," he said. "I'm operating as an independent label. I do not have corporate sponsors. I don't have no corporate backing. I don't have no major distribution."
Taking a page from the No Limit Records book, the Atlanta native has gone back to his early days in the game and is paying for everything. "We Master P-ing this s--t right now," he said. "Everything we putting out we paying for it. It's the grind. It's put me back to where I was when my first record [2001's I'm Serious] didn't sell, when I got dropped [from Arista] and I had to prove that I was worthy of a record deal. That's what I'm doing right now. Back then I was proving I was worth $2 million. Right now, I'm proving I'm worth $200 million."
A rumored $75 million deal was said to be on the table, but according to the King of the South, he refuses to take anything less than what he deserves. "I done sat with all the people; everybody says they're interested, but they don't want to cut that check. Alright — we're going to motivate them to cut that check. We're gong to incentivize each and every institution, each and every place of distribution, we going to motivate them.
"They going to cut that check, man, and it's going to be eight figures. I ain't doing no deal if it ain't eight figures. I don't even wanna sit down with you. I don't wanna waste your time nor mine. I can do this s--t on my own. $5 million, $2 million, $4 million, $3 million — I can do that s--t on my own. I got that in the pipeline already. Don't even talk to me if it ain't eight figures. If y'all don't feel like I'm worth it, I'ma show you."
Musically, the last few years have been rocky for Tip. His career was put on hold twice, thanks to back-to-back prison sentences, the last of which he completed in 2011. Being locked up stopped him from promoting artists on Grand Hustle, but the father of six is back on the grind. His crew released its debut G.D.O.D. mixtape Tuesday (May 7) and already cracked Billboard's Hot 100 last week by way of "Memories Back Then," a track featuring T.I., Kendrick Lamar, Hustle Gang's B.o.B and songstress Kris Stephens.
Outside of the music, T.I. is also expanding his acting presence. He recently signed a management deal with United Talent Agency.
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(Photo: Craig Bromley/Getty Images for GREY GOOSE)