T.I. has announced that he is ready to bury his long-held, self-proclaimed “King Of The South” title with the release of his 12th and final album.
In a new interview, the Hustle Gang boss explained to TMZ that he has decided to name his next project Kill The King, which he feels is “a representation of killing the ego.” He also explained how he came to the decision to leave his famous nickname behind, revealing that at least one Southern Hip Hop legend warned him against claiming the title to begin with.
“I feel like the King of the South moniker is very egotistical, self-gratuitous and it’s a persona that kinda enters the room before I do physically,” Tip said. “And Big Boi, actually, he cautioned me of this back when I was just coming onto the scene.”
Prior to proclaiming himself king, T.I. said that he reached out to all of the Southern OGs he had access to at the onset of his career, including Bun B, Eightball & MJG, Scarface and both members of Outkast.
All of his predecessors gave their approval, with Bun B speaking on behalf of Pimp C who “was away on a mandated vacation,” as Tip put it.
Scarface made it clear that he had never had a desire to be held in that high regard, T.I. recounted, while Big Boi offered a pretty expansive caveat.
“Big was like, ‘That shit sound cool, I like it’,” T.I. recalled. “But just understand: if you the king, you gon’ put a big bullseye on your back. You can’t be lookin’ for no favors. Life is a game of chess, and the name of the game in chess is to kill the king.’
“Standing here 20 years later,” he added, “looking back on my career and the experiences that I’ve endured, I kinda can see what he meant now.”
The first recorded instance of T.I. calling himself “King of the South” appeared on the Beanie Sigel-assisted track ” “2 Glock 9’s,” which was featured on the soundtrack to Samuel L. Jackson’s reboot of Shaft in 2000. The Atlanta native explained that he first decided to stake his claim after hearing Mystikal refer to himself as the “Prince of the South” on one of his songs.
“When people heard it, the visceral reaction that they had, that’s what made it more personal for me,” T.I. said. “When people started telling me ‘You can’t call yourself that.’ I said, ‘Who the fuck are you to tell me what I can and can’t call MYSELF.’ And that’s when I began to feel more ownership; I felt like, ‘Well now, I got to stand on this.’”
Though he hasn’t indicated when fans might expect to hear Kill The King, T.I. has started pulling songs together, which he called his “favorite part” of the artistic process. He recently hit the studio with Jermaine Dupri, who has contributed at least one song to the album.
As he prepares to allegedly bring his discography to a close, T.I. is also readying a celebration of his sophomore album Trap Muzik, which catapulted him to superstardom upon its release in 2003.
In 2018, Tip and his Hustle Gang team marked the seminal project’s 15th anniversary with the grand opening of the Trap Music Museum.
In interviews about the ever-evolving collection of Hip Hop themed installations, T.I. explained that while he may not have been the first Southern artist to incorporate street life into his lyrics, he was the first to brand the sub-genre.