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T.I. Talks Going to Jail, Previews Tracks From New Album

May 5, 2008 3:39 PM ET

T.I., who was on house arrest while awaiting sentencing for felony gun charges, is finally out and about. "In some ways, I miss the house," he said last week when he stopped by the Rolling Stone office in New York. In between speaking engagements at schools to fulfill his 1,000 hours of court-ordered community service, Tip played some cuts from his forthcoming album Paper Trail. The defiant, gospel-flecked street single "No Matter What" leaked last week, but Tip says the real single, the Danja-produced "What's Up, What's Happening" will be out in a couple weeks. It's a bass-heavy club track full of shout-outs to haters who thought the MC's legal troubles would sideline him. On "Collect Call," he raps about all the fair-weather friends who disappear when things get hot over an R&B groove. "Let My Beat Pound" is a bass-heavy trunk-rattler produced by J.R. Rotem with a robotozed hook that's meant to intimidate others on the road: "My trunk sounds like a midget trying to get up out of there," he drawls. "You Ain't Missing Nothing" is a dubious message to those in prison: With jazzy, soul sample, Tip promises "The time will do itself, all you gotta do is show up." On "Sitting on Top of the World," which features a hook by B.O.B., the MC reflects on his path to rap fame. And on "I'm Illin" he claims to be "the hottest nigga since Tupac." Of course, after promoting the album, which comes out August 12, Tip will still have to serve a year in jail. "It's a bitter pill to swallow," he says. "But I've got a lot of water."

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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