As his March 29th court date approaches, T.I. is hurriedly rushing to finish the 1,000 hours of community service a judge ordered him to compete in exchange for a shortened sentence of one year on felony gun charges. "I'm up to 900 and change," he says proudly. "By the time of the court date, I will have easily surpassed the requirement."
MTV will chronicle the countdown to T.I.'s day or reckoning on a new show, T.I.'s Road to Redemption: 45 Days to Go, set to air its first episode February 10th at 9 p.m. Each week, the show's title will change to reflect the coming court date ("38 Days to Go," "31 Days to Go," etc.) and the last episode will recap what happens on the fateful day.
The rapper says he hopes the judge will approve of the work he's done and see fit to grant him the shorter sentence — the alternative is upwards of 15 years — but he's not jumping to any conclusions. "You never can predict what courts of law are going to do," he says. "I hope the good that I've done outweighs the evil, but a negative outcome is always a possibility."
Over the course of the show's eight-episode run, the Atlanta MC and former drug dealer councils several at-risk teenagers around the country — including L.A. gangbangers and Atlanta dealers — encouraging them to learn from his mistakes. "Every child had a situation that I had once dealt with," says T.I., who took the young people to prisons and the grave of his best friend Philant Johnson, who was shot to death in 2006, and introduced them to people who had turned their lives around. "You have to show them what they're doing wrong, show them the dangers, and show them that there are alternatives."
The rapper said MTV execs first visited him when he was on house arrest early last year and pitched a show to him. "They wanted to put cameras in the house, see what T.I.'s doing on house arrest," says the MC, who became an executive producer on the show. "I said that wasn't significant enough. We had to take it upon ourselves to affect at-risk lives."
If all goes well, T.I. will begin a year in prison later this year. He's rushing to finish albums from Grand Hustle labelmates B.o.B., 8Ball and MJG, Young Dro, and Killer Mike, all of which he says will all come out this year, before he goes in. "The idea is to put other people in a position so that they can fly when I won't be able to."