T.I. Opens the Door for Hip-Hop to Grow in XXL 20th Anniversary Interview
T.I. probably isn't the first name you think of when you hear the words trap music, but as far as we know, he's actually the first artist to bring the term to the mainstream. He did so in epic fashion, with his 2003 sophomore album, Trap Muzik, a 16-track tour de force of hit-making and grim storytelling. Tip's glowed up quite a bit since then.
If he hadn't anointed himself King of the South in subsequent years, his sheer selling power would have. Since dropping Trap Muzik, T.I.'s gone on to move over 10 million records, started a clothing line, appeared in several blockbuster movies and continued managing his Grand Hustle Records imprint. He's even starred in his own family-driven reality show, aptly titled T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle.
Tip's come a long way, and it feels like XXL's been with him every step. Since first bursting into the mainstream 14 years ago, T.I.'s appeared on the front of XXL Magazine's cover seven times over the years, with four of those occasions being for solo covers. Now he gets his fifth solo cover with XXL, as Tip celebrates our birthday by gracing the cover of our 20th anniversary issue. Now he racks up eight total XXL covers.
"XXL’s been one of the largest platforms and the strongest voices for the community of hip-hop," the rapper says during the cover story interview, written by XXL Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Satten. "It has been a rite of passage for someone like me who came up aspiring to be in the game of hip-hop. Once you made the cover of XXL, it was like, Shit, I can go home now. And you know, that shit has remained consistent throughout these couple decades. You’ve had your fair share of adversities, too! Just like hip-hop and just like a hip-hop artist, XXL has had to find ways to evolve and recreate itself, and find new ways to be hot and fit in with what’s going on currently. You guys are just another rapper. You’re just like us. The young internet’s coming in trying to steal your shine. Nobody wants to pay attention to you. Instagram and Snapchat’s all in the way and here you are still finding a way to be relevant. Man, you know what? Kick ass, good for you."
T.I. is just one of the artists selected to appear on XXL's 20 special edition covers. Like the Grand Hustle boss, these rappers have been documented by XXL through the extent of their careers and have always shown love to the brand that helped raise their profiles along the away. Tip's fellow cover stars are 50 Cent, the cover king with 15 total XXL covers and a career we’ve been documenting from the start; Diddy, the man who not only reinvented the remix but paved the way for rap moguls; Nicki Minaj, a queen in hip-hop building her own pinkprint in the game; Wiz Khalifa, the cool, calm and collected superstar; Cam’ron, Harlem’s swag connoisseur; Lil Uzi Vert; the face of hip-hop’s new generation; Migos, three rappers who helped redefine the culture; Snoop Dogg, the Doggfather of the game; Pusha T, a success story as a group member, solo artist and record executive; Future, a trendsetting trap god; Fabolous, a highly respected New York MC; Rae Sremmurd, the real crowd-pleasers; Birdman, a No. 1 stunna with a revered empire; Run The Jewels, partners in rhyme and reason; Yo Gotti, a testament to tenacity; Gucci Mane, the true comeback kid; Tech N9ne; an independent icon; E-40; hip-hop’s in-the-know uncle; and The Lox, a trinity representing for the streets.
See All XXL Magazine 20th Anniversary Covers