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On Dec. 3, Clifford “T.I.” Harris Jr. took over Hyde nightclub in Hollywood, Calif. to preview his eighth album Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head for fans, friends, and industry tastemakers alike.

Introducing each track from his own laptop, T.I. told the story behind almost every record, but there was something different about his demeanor.

A project he’s described as holding “diversity and a lot of passion,” that night, The Kang remained perched in V.I.P. and even though he may not have said (or noticed) it, the stark contrast in his position just a year ago was remarkable.

In its bones, Tip’s story is nothing new. In Hip-Hop rappers wear criminal charges and jail bids like a badge of honor, but the 32-year-old’s version held a couple more detours than your average rap tale. In 2007, he was arrested on his way to the BET Hip Hop awards, with enough ammunition to start a turf war. Facing a decade behind bars peers stood at his side, and when he was handed a 366-day jail sentence, a collective sigh of relief permeated through the industry.

Photo: Complex

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