The news has been all over the place in the last week or so: Atlanta rapper T.I. has just wrapped up a 10-year, multi-album deal with Atlantic Records and is now apparently shopping for a new label home. In several reports, T.I. is said to be seeking a $75 million dollar deal from a new label that could reportedly include
*3 studio albums
*10-20 percent of publishing, touring, merchandise, film and TV rights in a 360 deal format
*Corporate endorsement deals
*Exclusive signing of all Grand Hustle artists
There hasn’t been any news on Tip’s television interests with his show T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle, which is safe to assume is completely separate from his music dealings, but it’s safe to assume that he probably wouldn’t be hurting for dough once both deals are in the bag.
Even more intriguing, reports from Billboard to MTV have said that T.I. has been in meetings with Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine and Interscope, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and Sony, and will soon be in talks with Sony about his proposed deal. All of this comes on the heels of T.I. having wrapped up another successful season of his reality TV show on BET, averaging over 4 million viewers in its first two seasons, and the release of his latest studio album, Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head, which had first week sales of nearly 180,000 copies and rose as high as No. 2 on the Billboard charts.
But of course, T.I. has grown to be a lot more than just a music and reality TV star. Films he has appeared in, including ATL, American Gangster and Takers have netted millions of dollars at the box office. And some of the most relevant emcees are under his tow or work with him as partners at his label Grand Hustle, including B.o.B. and Killer Mike. Essentially, this makes T.I. look much more lucrative as an artist and a source of revenue for a major label.
But the question remains: is T.I. really worth the hefty price tag that he’s placed on himself as an artist and a brand? He’s already proven from his past success that he’s more than capable of being an artist that gives Hip Hop fans what they want from his music, with his sophomore album Trap Muzik having gone platinum in 2003 and pretty much every album after that following suit, with Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head well on it’s way to doing the same thing.
He’s also proven that he has a brand that’s versatile and flexible, moving between the worlds of family Reality TV, Hollywood, entrepreneurship and the mainstream music industry with relative ease. But today’s music industry is all about what an artist can deliver in the now, how quickly they can deliver it and whether the investment will be a wise one, where all parties benefit monetarily, or one where the artist can’t deliver on promises made for a boat load of money. Should T.I. get his deal from Interscope, Sony, Universal or whatever entity, there would definitely be added pressure to deliver music, live shows and other products that connect with fans to the point where they want to continuously support it.
Looking at the big picture, T.I. has a lot going for himself as an artist: a formidable brand name in music, movie star quality, the ability to work with a diverse set of pop music artists (Justin Timberlake, Rihanna and M.I.A. to name a few), several income-generating outlets, lots of love from the late night talk show world (did anyone catch his latest Chelsea Lately appearance?), and a hustler’s mentality and work ethic. So the $75 million price tag for his next label home should come as no surprise, and more than likely will come to pass very soon.
Still, T.I. would need to be even more of a hustler and a beast when it comes to all facets of his career if he’s to deliver the goods of said deal. From non-stop national and international touring, to exclusive music collaborations that his fans yearn for, to a few hits in Hollywood, to skillfully crafted endorsement deals, to T.I. himself making Grand Hustle a label that’s about as sought after, if not more so, than Rick Ross’ Maybach Music and Lil Wayne’s’ YMCMB, there’s a lot that will be asked of Mr. Harris once the ink dries on his new multi-million dollar deal. As fans and followers, we’ll just have to wait and see if it translates into more success for one of ATL’s favorite sons.