MAGAZINE WORLD: T.I. x B.o.B. for “Complex”
T.I. and B.o.B. shared the second half of the latest Complex cover. Lindsay Lohan got the first half solo dolo. Both stories have been posted to Complex.com in full, but here’s some highlights. First up, T.I.
How has having such big pop smashes on your last album influenced your musical direction on this album?
T.I.: There was a whole new audience introduced to T.I. by records like “Live Your Life” and “Dead and Gone.” I don’t think that I can properly maintain that same fan base if I don’t cater to them at some point. I got records that are way more left-field, mainstream, and universal than I’ve ever had. I got records that would be equivalent to Usher doing “OMG” with Will.i.am. I got a record called “Out of Control” that RedOne did. It’s a party record; Nelly said it sounded like Las Vegas club music.
The last time you were on our cover, you mentioned retirement. Three years later, on “I’m Back,” you mention retiring again.
T.I.: I’m kickin’ 30 down this year, so it’s about time to start thinking about an exit strategy. I’m not saying this is my last album or the next album is my last album, but I don’t see myself rappin’ for 10 or 20 more years. Although I could. Let’s say I do it for five more years, and after that, when I do an album, it’ll be an event. It’s not going to be day in, day out. Maybe every two or three years, a world tour, the whole shebang.
You’ve mentioned being a big fan of Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak, even comparing it to Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear. Why did you make the comparison?
T.I.: All of the songs from 808s & Heartbreak—from the title of the album to every song on there—you can tell that it was speaking of and about a relationship that went bad. Every song was made as an open letter for someone, and I think that those two projects have that in common. It was the coolest shit in modern day since I heard Andre 3000’s The Love Below.
Are you a fan of any of the other new artists in the rap game, like Kid Cudi or Wiz Khalifa?
T.I.: I don’t know him. Kid Cudi, I haven’t heard enough. I like Donnis. I think Yelawolf got outstanding talent and potential. I’ve been knowing him. Drake’s the shit.
So whoever wants to say they’re the hottest rapper in Atlanta, it doesn’t matter to you.
T.I.: Nah, man. Nobody can take away from my title by feeling like they hot. In order for them to be the hottest, I have to see them being the hottest thing in Atlanta. My music speaks for itself. My influence speaks for itself. You can be the hottest right now, but that’s only because I ain’t dropped yet. When we drop shit at the same time, then we gonna see who gets more burn. When they drop your record in the club, then they drop mine, we gonna see who get more of a reaction. When your first-week numbers come in, we gonna see who have more sales. You or me. Saying you the hottest? You have that right—but when it’s time to show and prove, we gonna see who really deliver.
Do you feel that you don’t have the status you want in the U.S.?
B.o.B.: I remember going to Norway and Germany years ago; the crowd would go crazy, and they didn’t even know who I was. In the States, you gotta kind of prove yourself, win the crowd over. That’s what I meant in terms of it being more about the music in [Europe]. ‘Cause here, you come onstage and [the crowd’s] like, “OK, who’s this guy signed to? Who does he roll with? Where’d he come from?” You know what I mean? Over there, it’s more like, “OK, what does the music sound like?”
Listening to your early stuff and listening to your music now, there’s been a big change in the sound, which has turned out to be very successful. Do you feel gratified?
B.o.B.: Definitely. The gratitude is through the roof. And it’s great because it’s a reversal. I just love being an underdog, I guess. It kinda feels like a Slumdog Millionaire moment.
You were saying that T.I. was giving you business advice. With movies and clothing, T.I. has made himself into a brand. Do you have any intentions of following in his footsteps?
B.o.B.: It’s like his sixth album or something? Just to be around someone who’s been in the business for so long, to have him talk to you, I definitely wanna be like [T.I.]. It’s starting now, but I feel like it’s good it didn’t start as trying to make a brand. It started from a really genuine point, and honestly, I’m just making sure it stays that way. To make sure that it stays at a genuine point, and continue to grow a brand based on integrity and the things that make you real.
You don’t talk about the stuff you buy as much as other rappers. Is that a conscious decision on your part?
B.o.B.: It’s not because I don’t like it. It’s just because I’m not really into it, I guess. In “Fly Like Me” on B.o.B. vs. Bobby Ray, I’m kinda going off and being extensive about wardrobe, and being fresh or whatever. But it don’t matter who you are, if you open a brand new box of Js and you put ’em on, there’s a significant feeling that comes along with that. [Laughs.] Especially being somebody who never had Js growing up, you know what I mean?
Complex kills with these interviews. Visit the site to read the full interview.