T.I. was interviewed for Vevo’s “Why I Vote” campaign, and broke down the U.S.’s dreadful history with mass incarceration and for-profit prisons, and how it disproportionately affects black and brown people. Specifically, he talks about how the so-called “war on drugs” affected his community on the west side of Atlanta.
“That’s when you started experiencing people being gone for a long time,” he said, recalling that his uncle got 10 years in prison for conspiracy to distribute cocaine. “Like, ‘You heard about such and such? Man, he just got 15 years. He just got 20 years. As a child, it gave you an early understanding of where this environment can take you. Like, ‘Wait a minute. Is this gonna happen to me?’”
He said his uncle’s imprisonment changed his life.
“It was kind of unreal to me,” the rapper admits. “That was the only person who took some real time to mold me as a man, and when he went today, it was ridiculous. It was like nah, nah, this ain’t real. You mean 10 real years?”
Tip is no stranger to speaking about the drug policies that ruined the lives of black families across the nation. He talked directly about 80s era Reaganomics and the introduction of CIA crack cocaine into black communities.
“Crack cocaine was introduced to the Black neighborhoods,” says Tip, who just released the powerful EP about police terrorism, Us or Else. The instrumentals from his release serve as a music bed for his interview.
“Nobody just all of a sudden learned how to put baking soda, water and cocaine to make a cheaper version that’s more potent,” Tip said. “We ain’t no damn chemists. We didn’t come up with that.”
He breaks down the concept of incentivized incarceration and for-profit prisons, and how he believes that should be illegal, and that those jobs should go back to the American people. In the end, he says he votes to “fix the injustices and change the inequality in America today.”
Watch T.I.’s thoughts about mass incarceration above. Listen to Us or Else here.