TI (aka Clifford Harris) is my favorite rapper, and the person I consider to be one of the most talented artists in America. I've made no secret about my appreciation for his music, and from friends of mine who know him, I can say that he is genuine about reducing gun violence among our youth. TI is also the artist that I would have gambled on to have the greatest likelihood of turning his life around. He has a lot to live for, and people who love him. He's made his mistakes, but I was convinced that he'd grown from them.
Now, after hearing about his arrest for drug possession, I'm not so sure if TI has learned a thing. In fact, I'm having a hard time distinguishing TI from his self-destructive counterpart, Lil Wayne. And yes, I will say this in public: I think Lil Wayne is an idiot.
TI - how could you do this to us? I had all of my money bet on the TI horse. It was nothing less than my greatest hope to see him emerge from prison, continue to make hit records and show all the haters that he's meant to fulfill a special destiny. But that's not what I got. Instead, I get a thug who goes to jail with his new wife on drug possession charges. Yes, a man and his wife, who have children at home, in handcuffs sets a new low for "triflin-osity" among rappers. Even with the modern day Bonnie and Clyde appeal of it all, it's just crazy to watch.
I can't tell you the details of the long-term legal, professional and personal implications of TI's latest bit of drama. I don't know what special arrangements he has with prosecutors that allowed him to get out of jail a little early the last time. I can't tell you what conditions of his release he's violated with his latest arrest. I can't even tell you how bad his criminal record probably looks to any judge who will consider his case this time around. All I can tell you is that ya boy is screwed, up the creek, no paddle in sight, crying for his mama and all of his baby's mamas to save his butt. He's in serious trouble.
At this point, all the words of redemption that TI puts in his lyrics have about as much credibility as George Bush's "Mission Accomplished" statement after the start of the Iraq war. TI might as well admit to the rest of the world that he's a man with as much self-discipline as Tiger Woods in a musty night club. He fooled us all and I'm admittedly hurt by it. But I am sure that my disappointment is nothing compared to the sadness and humiliation being felt by his children. At some point, they are going to want to hear an explanation that goes beyond the same old "Daddy ain't perfect," routine.
Clifford Harris, it's time to grow up. Pretending to be something you're not on the big screen is ok, but in real life, it's just not cool. I want to believe that, deep down, you're better than that. Now, I'm just not sure.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University. For more information, please visit www.BoyceWatkins.com.