Ten years ago today the "King of the South" claimed his throne. Check out the stories behind his breakthrough album.
During the opening seconds of his sophomore album, Trap Muzik, T.I. offered a clarification, “This ain't no album/This ain't no game.” That’s because for him, it wasn’t. Until that time Clifford Joseph Harris Jr. had spent most of his life serving fiends in the “trap.” He tried to change his ways and go straight by becoming a rapper, and ended up signing with Arista Records, changing his name from Tip to T.I., and dropping his first album, I'm Serious, in October 2001. But his major label debut would prove to be a major disappointment—one that failed to highlight T.I.’s charismatic appeal and his considerable skill as a wordsmith. With one foot still in the trap, Tip contemplated quitting rap for good.
In retrospect, the 2000s were the decade of Southern hip-hop. By 2003 New York had produced its last true rap superstar—50 Cent, who would absolutely destroy everything in sight that year. But by 2006 it was obvious that the power base had shifted, and Atlanta had become the epicenter of hip-hop—producing new stars for the genre and providing a new sonic template. The seeds of that Southern takeover were sowed in the ‘90s with legendary releases by artists like Goodie Mob and OutKast. The ATL takeover continued into the 2000s with artists like Lil Jon and Ludacris. But none of them really had the streets on lock. Good thing, then, that T.I. decided to keep rapping, hit the mixtape scene hard with his In Da Streets series, and released his classic sophomore album, Trap Muzik.
The album was a hit out the gate, selling over 100,000 copies its first week and debuting in the Top 5 when it was released 10 years ago today. It spawned four hit singles, “24s,” “Be Easy,” “Rubber Band Man,” and “Let’s Get Away.” The last two becoming Tip’s first of many entries into the Billboard Top 40. But Trap Muzik is better known for its slow burn, gradually growing into a platinum success by the end of the year. It wasn’t until 2004 that fans beyond Atlanta began recognizing Tip as the King of the South. By 2006's King his bold claim became an undeniable reality.
Trap Muzik marked that auspicious moment when a King captured his throne and everybody else had to sit up and watch. In T.I.’s own words the album was “when a young man moved from the streets to come up in a major way. When he took the city on his shoulders and walked it. Welcome to the rest of your life.” So let's go back to a time when the word "trap" meant something more than ratchet EDM tracks. To celebrate the album we hooked up with Tip, his longtime manager Jason Geter, his executive producer DJ Toomp, and just about everyone else who worked on his sophmore album to bring you, The Making of T.I.’s Trap Muzik.
As Told To Insanul Ahmed (@Incilin)
Additional interviews by Edwin Ortiz (@iTunesEra)
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