Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr. (born September 25, 1980), better known by his stage name T.I. or T.I.P., is an American recording artist, film & music producer, and occasional actor. He is the founder and co-chief executive officer (CEO) of Grand Hustle Records.
T.I. was born Clifford Joseph Harris Jr. on September 25, 1980, in Riverdale, Atlanta, Georgia, the son of the late Clifford "Buddy" Harris Sr. and Violeta Morgan. He was raised by his grandparents in Bankhead, Atlanta, Georgia. His father lived in New York and he would often go up there to visit him. His father suffered from Alzheimer's and later died from the disease. T.I. began rapping at age nine. He attended Douglass High School, but later dropped out. As a teenager, he was a drug dealer. He was once known as Rubber Band Man, a reference to the custom of wearing rubber bands around the wrist to denote wealth in terms of drugs or money. By age 14, he had been arrested several times. He was nicknamed "Tip" after his paternal great-grandfather. Kawan "KP" Prather, a record executive, discovered and signed T.I. when he was a teenager. Upon signing with Arista Records subsidiary LaFace Records in 2001, he shortened his name to T.I. out of respect for label mate Q-Tip.
T.I. released his debut album, I'm Serious, in October 2001 through Arista Records. The album spawned the eponymous single, which featured Jamaican reggae entertainer Beenie Man. His debut single, "I'm Serious," was released on June 26, 2001. The single received little airplay and failed to chart. The album included guests appearances from Pharrell Williams of The Neptunes (who called him "the Jay-Z of the South"), Jazze Pha, Too Short, Bone Crusher, Lil Jon, Pastor Troy, P$C and Youngbloodz. The album featured production from The Neptunes, DJ Toomp, Madvac, and The Grand Hustle Team. Despite the album's guests appearances and production team, the album peaked at number 98 and only sold 163,000 copies in the United States. Critics pointed to the fact that many of the tracks sounded the same and that a few were blatant rip-offs. Other critics commented saying, "T.I. claims to be the king of the South, but fails to show and prove. He does, however, have potential. If his talent ever matches his confidence, he may be headed for stardom."