Rapper T.I. surprises North Side students

In town to promote his upcoming album Paper Trail, southern rapper T.I. surprised an auditorium full of students Thursday at a North Side high school. The Atlanta-born rapper/actor, whose name is Clifford Joseph Harris Jr., told more than 100 students at

In town to promote his upcoming album, "Paper Trail," southern rapper T.I. surprised an auditorium full of students Thursday at a North Side high school.

The Atlanta-born rapper/actor, whose name is Clifford Joseph Harris Jr., told more than 100 students at Prologue Early College High School on North Cleaver Street to think before they act and not make the same mistakes he’s made.

While on his quest to become a well-known lyricist, T.I., also known as the “Rubberband Man,” said he’s gotten into his share of trouble on the streets and most recently was tangled in legal woes stemming from federal firearm charges.

When asked by a few students if he thought about the bad things he did before he did them, he replied, “Yes, and I did it anyway. That’s what you call being dumb.”

He told them to not follow in his footsteps and abandon the notion that music influences what you do. Entertainment is just that–entertainment, he told them, it’s not reality. What he and others rap is a reality for them, but entertainment for others, he said.

Wearing a “Respect My Vote” T-shirt from his new clothing line, AKOO (A King Of Oneself), T.I. said, “Don’t get it twisted. Find out who you are what you like to do. Don’t follow behind anyone else. And if you do find yourself getting in trouble, don’t blame me and my music for it. I’m in enough trouble. I don’t need any help,” he said in a joking but serious manner.

T.I. told them that there is nothing wrong with listening to “so-called” gangster rap, but there should be a balance in what you listen to.

“If you think some of my music is negative, then why can’t you also listen to Kanye (West), Common and Lupe (Fiasco)? They are all positive and very good.

Listen to them to get some inspiration,” he said.

After speaking at Prologue, he went to Chicago State University for a “barbecue on the yard.”

T.I. has appeared in the films ATL and "American Gangster." His new album is scheduled to be released Sept. 30 on his label, Grand Hustle Records.

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