Today Rapper T.I. has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison and ordered to pay a $100,300 fine on weapons charges related to purchasing machine-guns and silencers. When I first heard news of him being charged, it didn't come as a surprise to me. Instead of ridiculing him for his mistake, I understood his motives. I've been listening to T.I.'s music for years and have purchased all of his albums (except for "I'm Serious"). In his music he expresses a lifestyle that most other artists mimick. Although he broke the law, to the Hip Hop community, he's highly respected. The fact that he lived what he rapped about makes his cred stronger.
I'm not condoning weaponary and violence at all but everyone has a right to protect his or herself especially if they feel threatened. At the time, T.I. had every reason to feel threatened. The bullets that killed his friend "Big Phil", in his presence, was meant for him. Sometimes the bodyguards aren't enough. Biggie Smalls, 2pac, Stack Bundles and Big L all fell victim to gunfire. He felt his back was against the wall and needed to protect himself. I understand because I was in a similar situations myself. Sometimes good people make mistakes. And I think T.I. will learn from his mistakes.
The following is an excerpt off T.I.'s Paper Trail album explaining some of his motives and reaction to his own situation:
"If your life was in jeopardy, everyday is you telling me
You wouldn't need weaponary just because of your felony?
Consider this at least, I got everybody sweating me
On the streets is people who won't rest unless I Rest In Peace
Killed my folk a year ago, still in my sleep they threaten me
Paranoia stressing me, ain't nobody protecting me
I'm dealing with the pressure from my partner dying next to me
Thing is no one's arrested, they coming for me eventually,
This was all the things that I was goin through mentally
This could be the reason I ignored the Penitentiary
Now mention them New Orlean niggas coming in the city
Killing all summer long, ain't nobody paying attention..
Now is it that hard to understand if you listen
Either die or go to jail, that's a hell of a decision
But I'm wrong and I know that my excuses ain't important
I'm just tryna let you know that I ain't think I had a choice"