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t.i. 14

Great day for the ATLien.

T.I. has had a bewildering, turbulent and exciting go of it over the past 30 days, and from the look of it, he’s nowhere close to cooling off. From “brawling” with Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas over Memorial Day Weekend to seeing his street single/video, “About The Money”, take over blogs and clubs nationwide, not to mention a slight Twitter spat with oft-antagonizing (and largely under-performing) Interscope recording artist Azealia Banks, Mr. Harris has been in the thick of things, for lack of a better term.

Today, he took some time out to report to The School For Visual Arts in the Chelsea area of New York City for a media mixer, in which he granted attendees an advance screening of his new music video–the video has since been released, and you can watch it here–“No Mediocre”, which features his hottest protege, Iggy Azalea, and the opportunity to get an extremely early listen of the completed portions of his new album, Paperwork: The Motion Picture, which T.I. stated would be out in September when he was asked about the release date during a very brief Q&A session post-screening.

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Lil’ Duval, the widely known and respected stand-up comedian and actor, hosted the event, and chatted candidly with Tip about several topics, including how T.I. came across Travi$ Scott and Iggy Azalea, the two artists he brought into the Grand Hustle family and pushed the hardest following his second release from prison–Duval joked that it just so happens only two of T.I.’s jail stints are of public record. Tip went into detail concerning his first meeting with Iggy Azalea, whom he found out about through his DJ, DJ MLK.

T.I. & Lil' Duval at The School of Visual Arts in NYC earlier this evening.

T.I. & Lil’ Duval at The School of Visual Arts in NYC earlier this evening.

“I went out to L.A., and our first encounter was very different from my first meeting with Travi$. I sat down and she gave it to me straight like this, ‘Hello Mr. T.I., I would just like you to know that in a few months I am going to be everywhere, and I’m going to make if very difficult for people to breathe. I am assuming you would like to be able to breathe so let’s discuss some of the things that you can do for me.’ My first reaction was, ‘What you say?’ Obviously, she turned out to be right”.

iggy yer

Azalea’s debut album, The New Classic, impacted in lukewarm fashion, selling just over 50,000 copies in its first week on the shelves, but it didn’t stop Azalea from being one of the hottest artists in the game, as she currently holds the #1 and #2 spots on the Billboard 100, with her The New Classic single, “Fancy”, and her guest appearance on Ariana Grande‘s “Problem”.

T.I. went on to delve into how his new album got its name, and how it will compare with his previous work. As per Tip and Lil’ Duval’s conversation, T.I. ran into Pharrell at his wedding last year, which is when Pharrell began pitching his idea of bringing T.I. over to Columbia Records, and executive producing his new album to Rob Stringer, the Chairman of Columbia Records. Needless to say, Rob was listening intently, as just a month later, T.I. had a new label home. Shortly after, T.I. and Skateboard P got to work on creating Tip’s new LP, and it was Pharrell’s idea to change the name from Trouble Man 2: He Who Wears The Crown.

“Pharrell said ‘we’ve got to get rid of that Trouble Man, man…maybe we should stray away from that'”, started T.I., “So I go, ‘so what do you think we should call it?’, and he thinks for a while, and he says ‘whatever it is, it’s got to be a motion picture! Give me something that’s three syllables, and we’ll say that…the motion picture!’ So I thought for a while, and I realized that if you ask most people what their favorite T.I. album is, the people that love that street sh*t, that came up in that era, they’ll tell you either Trap Muzik or Urban Legend, but the general consensus…is Paper Trail. So I thought to myself, how do we get a continuation of that Paper Trail album, without calling it Paper Trail 2? Then I thought, what makes things official? Whether it’s a contract, a dollar bill. It’s paperwork. You can’t do anything, or go anywhere, without paperwork. So that’s how we came up with Paperwork: The Motion Picture“.

Before the conclusion of the preview session, T.I. played portions of several records: “I’m A King”, “Paperwork”, which features and is produced by Pharrell, “G Sh*t”, which features Young Jeezy and a record called “New National Anthem”, which is expected to feature Lady Gaga. The sampling of the LP certainly sounds like T.I. is making an album tailored to the Paper Trail blueprint, with enough street material to satisfy fans of his early work, dating back to I’m Serious, but the right amount of the expanded sound and live instrumentation that will whet the appetite of those that prefer his more matured work, such as “Hello” off his latest album Trouble Man, and Trouble Man‘s teaser track, “Hear Ye, Year Ye”.

-Khari Nixon (@KingVanGogh)