Clifford Joseph “T.I.” Harris Jr is a rapper, actor, and entrepreneur credited with popularizing the Hip Hop subgenre, Trap Music during the 2000s. Harris was born on September 25, 1980, to Clifford “Buddy” Harris Sr. and Violeta Morgan in Atlanta, Georgia. He grew up in Atlanta’s Center Hill Neighborhood, raised by his grandparents.
At the age of eight, Harris began rapping. He attended Douglass High School but dropped out. In 1996, 16-year-old T.I. became friends with rapper Sean “Big Kuntry King” Merrett and both began selling mixtapes out the trunk of their cars. Harris was discovered by record producer Kawan “K.P.” Prather, who signed him to a record deal with Ghet-O-Vision Entertainment.
In 1999, Harris signed with Arista Records and two years later released his debut studio album, I’m Serious with the hit song “I’m Serious.” The album sold poorly and in 2003, he released his second album, Trap Muzik, which including singles “24’s”, “Be Easy,” “Rubberband Man,” and “Let’s Get Away.” The album was certified platinum, selling over a million units. In 2004, Harris released his third album, Urban Legend with the singles, “Bring Em Out,” “U Don’t Know Me,” and “ASAP.” The album would be certified platinum, selling over one million units. In 2006, Harris released King featuring singles, “What You Know,” “Why You Wanna,” “Live in the Sky,” and “Top Back” (Remix). This album would also sell over a million units and won the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance.
In 2007, Harris released his fourth studio album, T.I. vs. T.I.P. with the singles, “Big Things Poppin (Do It),” “You Know What It Is,” and “Hurt.” The album, which sold over one million units, was also nominated for three Grammy Awards. In 2008, Harris released studio album number five, Paper Trail with singles “Whatever You Like,” “Live Your Life,” and “Dead or Gone.” Paper Trail would be Harris’s bestselling album of his career with over two million units sold and it also won a Grammy in 2009 for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.
Harris released other albums in his career, including No Mercy (2010), Trouble Man: Heavy Is the Head (2012), Paperwork (2014), Dime Trap (2018), and The L.I.B.R.A. (2021). In 2003, he launched his record label called Grand Hustle Records, which eventually signed D’Juan “Young Dro” Hart, Bobby “B.o.B. Simmons Jr, Glenn “Doe B” Thomas, and Amethyst “Iggy Azalea” Kelly. Harris has also been acting in movies including ATL (2006) and Ant-Man (2015).
Despite his music success, Harris would be involved in several controversies, including rap feuds with Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges, Wesley “Lil Flip” Weston Jr, and Carlos “Shawty Lo” Walker. Adding to the controversy, Harris was arrested and charged with two felonies for gun possession in 2007. He served his sentence at a prison in Forrest City, Arkansas, for several months in 2009. In 2021, Harris and his wife Tameka “Tiny” Cottle –Harris were accused by several women of sexual abuse that occurred over the past decade. Despite the controversy, Harris remains active in the entertainment business as of 2021. Harris married Tameka “Tiny” Cottle-Harris in 2010. The couple have three children. He also has two sons and a daughter from a previous relationship.