T.I. is heading back to school. Billboard learned on Tuesday (June 23) that Tip will be teaching the business of trap music at Clark Atlanta University this fall alongside renowned hip-hop scholar Dr. Melva K. Williams.
The innovative undergraduate course will mesh the history of trap music with the economics behind its meteoric rise to becoming a staple in 21st-century hip-hop.
“I’m excited to share my experiences and whatever resources or information I have that can be an asset for the future,” the trap pioneer says of his educational endeavor. “Drugs have existed for as long as humans have been on earth and music has existed for quite some time as well. The commonality that threads the two together is what makes trap music a dominant force in culture today.”
When Tip was originally inspired to take up rapping well over decades ago, he recognized a void in the Atlanta music scene, which wasn’t reflective of the rugged day-to-day trapping lifestyle going on throughout the city.
“My intention was to take my lifestyle and turn that into a philosophical presentation of music, so other people going through similar experiences wouldn’t feel alone or alienated,” the Grand Hustle boss explains. “When we were coming up, the only artists coming from Atlanta was OutKast, Goodie Mob, and booty-shaking music. The first person to do it is always going to have the hardest time. After me, it was much easier for Jeezy and Gucci [Mane] to be accepted.”
As a leader in his community, T.I. also joined protestors on the frontlines of Atlanta following the death of Rayshard Brooks, who was killed during an encounter with police earlier in June after falling asleep in a local Wendy’s drive-thru lane. The 39-year-old understands law enforcement isn’t going to be perfect but wants officers to be held accountable for their actions and to treat Black people “equally and fairly.”
“When you arrest a Black man, we want you to treat him with the same level of aggression and intensity as you would a white man. That’s all we’re asking,” he says. “As far as legislation is concerned, I do believe that the impunity they operate with is something we should address. The abuse of power that leads to the murders of Black men at the hands of police, so many of them are racially charged, however, there is no federal hate crime.”
Taking things a step further, Clark Atlanta University announced that they will be honoring the life of Brooks by extending a scholarship offer from the HBCU to each of his four children when they are set to head off to college.
“What we concluded is if everyone does a little, nobody has to do a lot,” Tip recalls of his candid conversation with CAU president George T. French Jr. “We’re doing all we can as a community to uplift the [Brooks] family here in Atlanta. If something happens to one of us, it could happen to any of us.”