You could say T.I. was ahead of the curve in looking for and promoting a female rapper during one of the more lean years in hip-hop gender parity.
Unfortunately, that curve threw the King of the South for a curve in the form of the Mouth From the South—if the “South” was “Down Under”—problematic rapper Iggy Azalea.
“I’m still actively looking for another female rapper who can undo the blunder of Iggy Azalea,” the Grand Hustle Records honcho admitted. “That is the tarnish of my legacy as far as [being] a [music] executive is concerned. To me, this is like when Michael Jordan went to play baseball.”
And sports fans know how that turned out.
To say that Iggy Azalea, the most prominent female rapper associated with T.I., didn’t turn out as he hoped is an understatement. Most recently, the Australian-raised Azalea, who miraculously rapped as if she had been raised in the South all her life, was Twitter-thugging again trying to low-key disparage Lizzo. Of course, one can’t forget rapper Azealia Banks’ colossal Twitter rampage against Azalea and T.I.’s insertion into the melee. Today, the Bankhead rapper looks back at that time with regret.
But T.I. has rebounded and, for him, attending the epic Tyler Perry Studios grand opening this week was confirmation. “I did some shit right to be here,” he shared. “I’m my toughest critic and I’m always kind of hard on myself about the times that I had the game eating out the palms of my hands and I fucked up but that was a clear representation that if I had fucked up too bad, I wouldn’t have been in that motherfucking room.”
T.I. was in a confessional and appreciative mood as he spoke about his latest TV show, Rhythm + Flow, on Netflix from The Gathering Spot, a black-owned private club in Atlanta. The show, which he co-hosts with Chance the Rapper and Cardi B, is a first for a hip-hop competition and unusual for Netflix, which is staggering the show’s episodes instead of making them binge-able. As the trio searches for the best rappers to compete in L.A, they also get to showcase their respective cities. In L.A., where the final showdown takes place, the late great Nipsey Hussle also lent a hand. Other rappers like Fat Joe, Jadakiss, Quavo, Big Boi, Snoop, Twista and Royce Da 5’9 also weigh in.
One of the most distinctive aspects of this hip-hop competition show is the number of female contestants. For T.I., that’s just a reflection of where hip-hop is right now. “There’s a lot of dope female talent right now in the industry. There’s a lot of dope female talent out there trying to get in the industry,” he explained. “So I think [the show is] a fair representation.”
Asked about his attempts to work with female rappers, namely Xtaci, a Down South duo in the vein of Salt-N-Pepa, T.I. shared that a lot of things get in the way. While he cited “boyfriends” as a contributing factor, he also said that “sometimes people just grow up and find out that maybe their time, efforts and attention would be better applied elsewhere but, right now, we do have Tokyo Jetz.” The Jacksonville, Fla. native known for “No Problems” is reportedly pregnant with her first child.
Netflix began streaming the first four episodes of Rhythm + Flow Wednesday, October 9, and will release episodes 5-7, October 16 and the final episodes 8-10, October 23.