Clifford Harris better known as T.I. ( or AKA T.I.P., AKA the King of the South) may not have coined the term Trap but that didn’t stop him from ushering in a new perspective within the Hip-Hop culture.
T.I.s Trap Muzik created special memories in my life becoming a staple in my life’s soundtrack. The time was August 2003, the setting Houston Texas. Three months prior I had graduated High school in Anchorage Alaska, but was now a full time student enrolled at Texas Southern University.
I purchased my first camera phone – a Nokia 6800 – along with a number of other things to get ready to start my college adventures. I waved goodbye to my parents as they got ready to make the 4,261 mile trip to their home and walked up the stairs into the Lobby of the Warwick hotel (Currently known as Hotel Zaza) to begin living my best life as an 18 year old man.
Because the apartments that I was scheduled to move into weren’t completed on schedule the university reached a deal with the Warwick hotel. In this deal all of the students/residents of Tierwester Oaks apartments had a hotel room and shuttle service provided to and from the campus.
The fall of 2002 through summer 2003 was dominated by 50 Cen’t’s debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin’. This album was laced with easy going beats and smooth melodies that included hit songs such as Wanksta, and P.I.M.P. ft Snoop Dogg, but that was before Atlanta and the Crunk era decided to plant their flag for the ATL in the commercial music industry.
Youngbloodz Damn! and T.I.’s 24’s to my recollection were at the forefront of this movement which is still leading today. A party at a pavilion hall that was promoted at several universities was my first time at a party with a couple thousand people rather than a few hundred , and it became apparent that there was no region that got the crowd Moving/jumping like the south and Atlanta in particular.
24’s, Be Easy, and Rubber Band man became staples on Hip-Hop head’s mixed CDs and played on BET & MTV when they still played music videos. The world was put on notice that there was a new Dope Boy Swag embodied and personified by the self proclaimed King of the South known as T.I.. Everything changed when the single “Let’s Get Away” came out and T.I.’s fan base grew and now included Dope Boys in the Trap and women that well Loved Niggas in the Trap (or the idea of loving one at least).
A song by T.I. like “I still Love You” often is overlooked to most but to me showcases both his vulnerability and lyrical ability. His lyricism quickly dispels the ideas that the south doesn’t produce lyricist, and his ability to be vulnerable attaches listeners to the highs and lows of the lifestyle of that would either entice you try to turn an 1/8 into a Kilo or intimidate you enough to stay far away from such.
The Crunk era had a long run that even crossed-over into the R&B genre with the smash hit by the King of Crunk Little Jon of the East side boys and Usher titled “Yeah”. However somewhere between Dem Franchise Boyz “White Tee” and D4L’s “Laffy Taffy” many had began the debate whether Hip-Hop was dying during its residency in Atlanta. One thing never debated was T.I.’s importance to not only the Atlanta, but also to the southern Hip-Hop scene and ultimately the entire Hip-Hop genre.
Because his Trap Muzik release inspired a generation of producers, rappers, artists, creatives, etc… Because if T.I. taught us anything, its that the Trap can be anything. Your Trap can be limitless, the Trap is forever, people will “Trap” everywhere and by any means.
So on this day I wanted to take a stroll down memory lane at the same time pay homage, and celebrate while listening to the album that birthed a generation within Hip-Hop (my 2nd love after basketball). Signing off “This ain’t no album, this ain’t no game, THIS A TRAP” What it look like.