The Shady Side Of T.I.

While Clifford “T.I.” Harris made his music world debut in 2001 with the release of I’m Serious, it wasn’t until 2003’s Trap Muzik that he solidified his status as an artist to watch. As AllMusic notes, “By the time 2003 drew to a close, this album had spawned three chart hits — ’24’s’ had a particularly long-running presence on the video shows — and the album itself scraped the Top Five of the Billboard album chart.”

Since then, T.I. has, as of this writing, released 11 albums, been nominated for 19 Grammys (of which he’s won three), starred in six successful seasons of the VH1 reality show T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle opposite wife Tameka “Tiny” Cottle and, as of April 2021, amassed a $50 million net worth. But for all of his successes, the rapper has had just as many controversies, if not more. Whether it’s openly feuding with Rob Kardashian about having an alleged threesome with Kardashian’s ex, Blac Chyna, or going head-to-head with Kanye West over political views, T.I. is no stranger to making headlines. Below, we take a look at the most controversial instances that prove T.I. has a seriously shady side.

T.I. has been getting into trouble with the law since the '90s

Since T.I.’s first arrest and conviction back in 1998 when he was found guilty of “distribution of cocaine, manufacturing and distributing a controlled substance, and giving authorities a false name,” per WSB-TV 2 Atlanta, the rapper has failed to stay out of cops’ way. After being sentenced to three years in prison, he served one and was released on probation, but soon violated its terms. According to MTV, T.I. was arrested (but not convicted) of illegally possessing a gun in 2001, was arrested and convicted of illegally carrying a 10mm pistol in 2002, then sentenced to three years in prison after a 2004 search of his home unveiled weapons and ammunition.

Perhaps the most publicized incident came in 2007. Hours before he was meant to perform at the BET Awards, T.I. was arrested for “buying illegal machine guns,” per Reuters, and later sentenced to 366 days in prison, per MTV. Jump to 2010 when a traffic stop led to both T.I. and his wife to face drug charges. According to CNN, a judge “ruled his arrest and a subsequent failed drug test violated his probation on a weapons conviction” and the Atlanta native got 11 months in prison.

Most recently, police arrested him in 2018 outside his gated community. As WSB-TV 2 Atlanta learned, T.I. didn’t have his key and the guard wouldn’t let him in, which led to an angry exchange and T.I. asking, “Don’t you know who I am?”

T.I. wouldn't vote for Hillary Clinton because she's a woman

Sitting down for an interview with DJ Whoo Kid in 2015, T.I. got himself into serious hot water when he proclaimed he’d never vote for Hillary Clinton because of her gender. “Not to be sexist but, I can’t vote for the leader of the free world to be a woman,” he began. Clarifying that “every other position that exists, I think a woman could do well,” he highlighted that being president is not one of them. “I just know that women make rash decisions emotionally, and later they make very permanent, like, cemented decisions, and then later, it’s kind of like it didn’t happen, or they didn’t mean for it to happen. And I sure would hate to just set off a nuke,” he tried to explain, adding, “The world ain’t ready yet. I think you might be able to get the Loch Ness Monster elected before [a woman],” he laughed.

The backlash was swift. Activist Mikki Kendall tweeted, “T.I. said something stupid about women… well… it is a day that ends in Y so…” while Oprah Winfrey shared a perfect response with TMZ: “Honey child, hush your mouth, you don’t know what you talkin’ about.” Three days after his initial remarks, T.I. finally decided to apologize, tweeting, “My comments about women running for president were unequivocally insensitive and wrong. I sincerely apologize to everyone I offended,” he wrote.

T.I.'s alleged response to King Von's death seriously irked people

In November 2020, 26-year-old Chicago rapper King Von was shot and killed in Atlanta, per HotNewHipHop, following an altercation between his crew and Quando Rondo’s. According to Atlanta Police Deputy Chief Timothy Peek, a “physical altercation escalated into an exchange of gunfire” outside the Monaco Hookah Lounge around 3 in the morning. As HotNewHipHop reported, it left two people dead and King Von in critical condition.

Shortly after the incident, T.I. popped up on Instagram with a cryptic message that appeared to criticize and trivialize King Von’s death. In the since-deleted post, he wrote (per HotNewHipHop), “Atlanta is a beautiful progressive city filled with black excellence. We uplift each other & win together. Stop coming here to kill each other,” he slammed, adding, “Handle YOUR beefs in YOUR city. Thx in advance.”

Due to the post’s timing and its reference to a shooting, most, including 50 Cent, assumed it was in response to the incident. The New York rapper slammed T.I. on Instagram, writing (per HotNewHipHop), “You gotta chill, you bugging for saying anything. They got casualties, this is real s***.” He added, “I don’t know what you was thinking, but rethink it now.” T.I. then tried to clarify his comments, saying it “had nothing to do with King Von. Y’all grossly mistaken,” he wrote (per HotNewHipHop). “I have no motive or intention to do harm or malice to cats I’m cool with. My family’s hearts goes out to them.”

T.I. caused uproar with comments about his daughter's virginity

T.I. has a long history of making eyebrow-raising comments, and he continued to stir up controversy in 2019 when he told the Ladies Like Us podcast, per BuzzFeed News, that he and 18-year-old daughter Deyjah Harris “have yearly trips to the gynecologist to check her hymen. Yes, I go with her,” he proclaimed, revealing that after her 16th birthday party he “put a sticky note on the door,” which read, “Gyno. Tomorrow. 9:30.” Once again, T.I. was hit with harsh criticism. The NFL’s Tre Johnson tweeted, “I have a daughter and I will never do what T.I did to his daughter” while Gloria Steinem told TMZ, “That is a human rights abuse. It is not his hymen. It is not his body.”

Rather than apologizing, the “Whatever You Like” rapper defended himself on Red Table Talk, telling Jada Pinkett Smith his comments were made in a “very joking manner.” He continued, “From a place of truth, I began to embellish and exaggerate [but] I think that a lot of people kind of, like, took it extremely literal.” Adding that his “intentions” were “terribly misconstrued and misconceived,” he clarified that he did accompany a 16-year-old Deyjah to an existing doctor’s appointment and asked about her hymen. Saying that “all of this false narrative has just been sensationalized,” he went on to call his critics “weirdos.” Following the controversy, two bills were proposed by New York lawmakers to ban virginity testing, per NME.

T.I. has a history of parenting through a misogynistic lense

“Hymen-gate,” as he called it on Red Table Talk, wasn’t the last time that T.I.’s parenting comments would spark controversy. In 2020, while chatting with 21 Savage on his ExpediTIously podcast, the rapper appeared to boast about controlling daughter Deyjah Harris’ sex life. Saying that he calls quality time with his daughter “thot prevention hours,” he explained that “because sons can’t get pregnant,” he believes that “daddy-daughter” time is the only way to “keep your daughter off the pole.” He continued, “If you ain’t putting in your thot prevention hours and your daughter end up a dancer, don’t blame her now … You did not set an example.”

Criticism soon started pouring in with one Twitter user writing, “Dads, don’t be a T.I.” and another slamming, “Sometimes I wonder why men talk because tf is this.” As we previously reported, critics were also swift to point to a problematic 2019 episode of T.I. & Tiny: Friends & Family Hustle in which T.I.’s then-14-year-old son King admitted to being sexually active only for his dad to laugh it off. “I don’t want any of my children to have sex before it’s time for them, but who’s to say when it’s time?” he said, adding, “However, I will definitely feel different about a boy than I will about a girl, and that’s just the God’s honest truth.”

T.I. made a cheap dig about an embarrassing Drake incident

Back in 2015, at the peak of Meek Mill’s beef with Drake, the Philly rapper went after Toronto’s Very Own on “Wanna Know,” alluding to an incident in which Drake allegedly “let Tip homie piss on you in a movie theater.” The line quickly made headlines and journalist Julia Beverly was able to make sense of the drama and reveal that it really did happen. “So I was asked to clarify that the alleged pee incident was like unintentional splatter lol,” she tweeted. “Not a golden shower. He was just really drunk.”

According to The Source, the incident took place in 2010 at a private screening of Takers, which co-starred T.I. While watching the movie, Drake was seated next to T.I.’s late friend, Terrance Beasley, who was reportedly so intoxicated, he began to urinate and some of it somehow got onto Drake. As TMZ learned, Drake then “jumped up screaming and ran out of the theater” 30 minutes into the flick. Well, 10 years later, T.I. decided to resurrect the embarrassing moment in October 2020 on the track “We Did It Big.” Rehashing the incident he wasn’t even involved in, he rapped, “While I’m fightin’ my own somehow got you home; So drunk in LA, end up pissin’ on Drake, s***; F*** it, that’s still my brother; Since back in the trap house.” Not surprisingly, Drake unfollowed T.I. on Instagram.

T.I. was accused of putting a gun to a woman's head

On Jan. 26, 2021, Sabrina Peterson who, per The Shade Room, used to be close friends with T.I.’s wife, Tiny, took to Instagram to accuse the rapper of assault. “You put a gun to my head in front of children & I never called the police on you!” she wrote. Alleging that “for years you have painted me as the villain,” she continued, “It’s hard to heal from rape, violence or anything because you are painted as the problem or reason this has happened to you.” Peterson added that it’s time to “normalize the allowing black women to heal” and called on Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, to stop using T.I. as a role model.

The “Live Your Life” rapper chose to remain silent, but Tiny immediately fired back. According to The Shade Room, she commented on Peterson’s post, writing, “Stop Harassing My Family. You strange […] Please get help but LEAVE US ALONE.” Three days later, T.I. finally responded, denying the claims on Instagram. Without naming names, he appeared to ask his accuser, “How you gonna be a victim and an attacker at the same time? How you being victimized if you are violently attacking someone?”

Jump to March 2021 and TMZ confirmed that Peterson was suing T.I. and Tiny for “defamation and infliction of emotional distress,” alleging that the couple’s response led to threats and that Tiny’s decision to post a photo of her 8-year-old son on Instagram exposed him to “vitriol and danger.”

T.I. and his wife were accused of assault by over 30 women

The drama surrounding T.I. and his wife, Tiny, which began with Sabrina Peterson’s revelation that the rapper once held a gun to her head, quickly escalated as allegations against the couple began to mount. Following her original post on Instagram, Peterson returned to her Instagram Stories to share DMs she received from over 15 women who detailed alleged abuse at the hands of T.I. and Tiny.

Amidst the slew of screenshots posted by Peterson, one woman claimed she now has “neurological issues from the heavy molly use while around them” and said T.I. “referred to the girls as his cattle.” Another recalled waking up naked with a couple she didn’t recognize and wrote, “They passed me off to them at some point in the night.” Yet another alleged that T.I. punched her in the face and threatened to get her deported because he knew she had no immigration papers. Tiny “got jealous and attacked me and when I [defended] myself, T.I. jumped in and help[ed] her attack me,” she alleged.

A spokesperson for the couple told Complex “they emphatically deny in the strongest way possible the egregiously appalling allegations being made against them by Sabrina Peterson” and added, “The Harrises have had difficulty with this woman for well over a decade.” Peterson shot back on Instagram, writing, “LET’S TAKE A LIE DETECTOR TEST!” Meanwhile, production of T.I. and Tiny: Friends and Family Hustle was suspended, per Rolling Stone.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit RAINN.org for additional resources.

Over 30 women and the #MeToo movement went after T.I.

Days after T.I. took to Instagram to deny mounting allegations of abuse, saying, “Whatever we ever have done, has been done with consensual adults who into what we into and like what we like,” he and his wife were dealt a legal blow by New York lawyer Tyrone A. Blackburn. In February 2021, Blackburn sent a letter to the California Attorney General, as well as to state and federal prosecutors in California and Georgia, per The New York Times, revealing that he was contacted “by over 30 women” who alleged that the couple, “accompanied and aided by several individuals in their employ, have kidnapped them, drugged them, raped them, and terrorized them with threats of death or physical bodily harm.” According to the letter, the incidents “span 15 years” and took place in California, Georgia, and Florida, and his “clients and their witnesses are prepared to speak with investigators and prosecutors from your office.”

That month, activists with ‘Me Too’ International, National Women’s Law Center, and TIME’s UP Foundation also penned an open letter “in defense of Black survivors,” noting how “no media outlets, corporate actors, or systems of justice have centered survivors’ stories or promised accountability” and writing that “we are reliving a collective trauma akin to the exposing of Cosby and R. Kelly.” They continued, “This tendency to ignore, mock, challenge, and discredit the stories of Black survivors is an attempt to coerce us into silence and, this too, is an act of violence.”

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit RAINN.org for additional resources.

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