T.I. compares new rappers to random people thinking they can join the NBA

The hip-hop arena: A flood of talent or a crowded court?
Pandora Playback With P$C: T.I., Young Dro, Mac Boney, & Big Kuntry King
Pandora Playback With P$C: T.I., Young Dro, Mac Boney, & Big Kuntry King / Prince Williams/GettyImages

T.I., the seasoned rap icon and lyrical wordsmith, recently dropped some truth bombs about the current state of hip-hop. In an exclusive interview on Shaquille O’Neal’s podcast, The Big Podcast with Shaq, T.I. likened today’s rap scene to a wild game of pickup basketball. His analogy? Imagine the doors of an NBA arena flung wide open, inviting anyone who thinks they can ball to step onto the court. Jerseys handed out, sneakers laced up, and suddenly, the hardwood is swarming with amateurs.

The overflow of talent

T.I. didn’t hold back. “This generation reminds me of every other generation

" he began. “You got some people who are exceptionally dope, and some people who are just alright. You know what I mean?"

His voice, a mix of wisdom and street cred, resonated through the airwaves.

"But it’s a lot more of it to choose from now. I feel that, actually, what they’ve done with music is equivalent to if they were to open up the doors of the arena and say, ‘anybody think you can play basketball? Come on out the stands out here to the floor. Here go you a jersey, man. Get in the game"

The court gets crowded

T.I.’s metaphor captures the essence of today’s hip-hop landscape. The sheer volume of talent flooding the scene is both exhilarating and overwhelming. It’s like a cypher where every aspiring rapper steps up to the mic, hoping to drop bars that resonate. But with the flood comes the challenge: how do you stand out when the court is packed? How do you make your mark when everyone’s rocking the same jersey?

Investing in the game

The conversation took an interesting turn when T.I. discussed his contemporaries who’ve invested in NBA teams. Nelly, part-owner of the Charlotte Hornets, and Usher, with a stake in the Cleveland Cavaliers, have made moves beyond the mic. But T.I.? He’s not rushing courtside.

"I don’t think I would,” he admitted. “Because I just can’t see me taking so much of my money, investing it in something, and I can’t do what the f*** I wanna do.” His candor was refreshing. “I’m gonna put my money into something where I can dictate, and I can determine, the way it’s gonna go."

A missed collab with DMX

As the interview unfolded, T.I. shared a bittersweet memory. T.I. remembers a significant encounter with "X" who visited his house about two weeks before passing away. They had planned to collaborate on some work together, and even though T.I. was busy recording when X arrived at his studio, they ended up spending the night talking in the kitchen until early morning, sharing drinks and cigarettes. T.I. reflects that this was the first time they truly met and connected on a personal level, despite possibly knowing each other before. It was a meaningful encounter that was cut short by X's untimely death.

"X came to my house like two weeks before he died. We were planning to work together,” he revealed. “He came to the studio, and I was recording something else. By the time I finished, he had to run to another engagement.” The Grand Hustle general’s eyes softened. “We sat up all night ’til four, five in the morning, talking loud in the kitchen. I was having margaritas, I think he might have had a beer. Smoking and chilling, just talking like we known each other forever.” T.I. paused. “That was the first time we had ever really [met]."

DMX In Concert - Long Beach, California / Jerod Harris/GettyImages

T.I. and DMX never got to lay down that track.

" We were talking about kids, and he left town that day,” T.I. reminisced. “I was taking my kids to Orlando. We were on the phone planning to meet back up and work again. Maybe two, three days later, he had passed."

The loss of a legend still echoes in T.I.’s voice. “X was one of a kind.”

In the ever-expanding world of Hip Hop, T.I.’s words serve as a reminder. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a rookie, the court awaits. The question is, can you make your shot count?