"I call it the greatest debate," T.I. says of his new collaboration with Kanye West on "Ye vs. the People." Sitting down with Hot 97, he explains that the song came "at the end of a four-hour discussion."
T.I says that the song was made 24 hours before Kanye dropped it. "I just happened to have seen Kanye and when I saw him, I wasn't aware of all of the controversy," he notes. "We exchanged numbers, because we hadn't seen each other since I got out of prison. After I left, I started seeing [the social media controversy] and by the time I got up the next day, I saw something else had happened."
He reached out to Kanye's team and set up a meeting to speak with him. When they met, T.I. says, "He and I stepped outside, and I said, 'What's up, bro? I'm sure you've got it all figured out. What's the punchline?' And he was like, "Yo, free thought man. I felt free to be an independent thinker." Later, T.I. says, "The longer I spent talking with him, the more I started to see what he was saying. If you just hear him say something in 10 seconds or 15 seconds, you're going to think he's lost his mind. But the more he speaks about it, even when I don't agree with it, I feel like he's working through his own personal journey."
T.I. made a point to challenge several of Kanye's controversial ideas and the two went back and forth for hours. Then they started recording the song and turned the debate into "Ye vs. the People."
He clarifies that he disagrees with 98% of Kanye's political points, but adds, "I think he's on a personal journey and he's doing something that none of us understands. We've just got to make him aware of the things that could potentially hurt [people]." As for the negative responses that he's received from people for working with Kanye on a song about these controversial topics, T.I. says his history of political activism public criticisms of Trump should speak for themselves.
Later, T.I. tells Ebro, "[Kanye] is emphatically certainly serious about running for president. This is a real thing. He's deadass."
Explaining why he hasn't given up on Kanye and was willing to work with him despite the controversy, T.I. says, "We as the black delegation can't afford to lose Kanye West to the other side. This is a catastrophic loss we're talking about." He added, "I've invested too much time, Mr. West."
"I think he's a phenomenal talent of our generation that deserves to be heard and considered, no matter how preposterous it may be," he points out. "I disagree with it emphatically, you dig what I'm saying? But first of all, this is Kanye West we're talking about here. It ain't but maybe 1 percent of the population of the Earth who speak the language of Kanye West. And the problem is, the stuff that comes in his head, when it comes out of his mouth and makes it to the air, it's totally different than it was in his head. He kind of needs a translator."
You can watch T.I.'s interview with Hot 97 above and see the behind-the-scenes video of their recording session here.