When Ice Cube, Tupac, and Ice-T were taking over 80s and 90s music and film, Atlanta boy Clifford Harris could have only imagined what life would be like with that same multifaceted success in the entertainment industry. And yet today, albums aplenty under “T.I.” and movie roles under “Tip Harris,” youngsters aspire for his same versatility as a rapper-actor.
Months after the rapper’s “Us Or Them” EP, we meet Tip Harris again, cast as a scientist in charge of mass production in the fictional Santa Blanca drug cartel. Ubisoft and Amazon developed a live-action promo film to introduce the March 7th installment of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon franchise, Ghost Recon Wildlands. The film War Within the Cartel focuses an elite Special Forces unit’s plan to stop the cartel in Bolivia—smashing the workings of an action movie with a crime-drama, and boasting a team of producer Orlando Jones, executive producer Roberto Orci, and director Avi Youbian of The Walking Dead. The 30-minute narrative plus Tip’s character, cartel member Marcus, come from the minds of acclaimed writers Don Winslow and Shane Salerno. “I really have never seen so much narrative invested into a video game before. It was the first time that I’ve actually ever seen that done,” Tip told The Source, “I was impressed cause it seemed like a feature film or a television series or something.” The film also stars Tony Plana, Steven Weber, and D.J. Cotrona.
I could see Tip being involved with some aspect of a video game—judging by how fast he could name all the gaming consoles he loved as a kid. “Man, all of them—Nintendo, Sega Genesis, TurboGrafx-16, Super Nintendo, PlayStation—everything.” Atari was the one he couldn’t get his hands on. There was no way his older cousin would let him near her console. And his music has been featured in video games in the past—much like how besides acting, producer My Guy Mars and DJ Skee encouraged the rapper to record “Dope Gang” for the 4-song EP associated with Ghost Recon.
And him cast in a heist-centered film isn’t so far-fetched either. He told me his role as Ghost in 2010’s Takers was “the most fun I’ve had with a character.” And when it came to drama, Tip had played Cyrus in the remake of miniseries Roots. But a “money-hungry scientist who falls in bad company” was a new one. And even though I wanted him to say his song “All About Money” provided some inspiration for getting into character, currently his mental border between rapper and actor was clear as he shed light on a process similar to those of Oscar winners: “Absorbing myself into the story and kinda just putting myself in the character’s shoes. Sometimes, if I had an ability to find things about the character that I can associate with people I’ve experienced or been around in certain parts of my life, I kind of channel that energy though the character. Other times, I just imagine if I was in this situation, how would I feel?”
One of the greatest examples of him doing just that falls in his first-ever acting role in ATL—and possibly a role he’ll return to if a sequel ever happens. Despite being Georgia-bred like the protagonist he played, Tip said he felt like this role was like doing a 180. “Rashad was more so a kid that was on the right path and doing the right things. And I grew up as the polar opposite. The way I grew up—I mean I was a good kid, I was smart, but I was into a lot of the wrong things.” Yet, this is arguably his most famous role as an actor and just the beginning of a career he promises will exceed expectations.
Whether it’s Rashad or Marcus nonetheless, the force that is both T.I. and Tip Harris has developed a love for acting and considers it a worthy career path post-music. “I mean I’ll put it to you like this: rappers have an age limit. I can’t see myself ever a 40-something-year-old rapper,” he said, “An actor, I can do it until I can’t do anything anymore so that would definitely be a natural transition.”
After its debut on Ubisoft’s Twitch livestream [Thursday, February 16], War Within the Cartel is currently available for viewing on Amazon Prime. Look out in stores on March 7 for Ghost Recon Wildlands, made for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows PC.
Photo Credit: Derek Blanks