T.I. on ‘Us or Else’ EP: ‘This Is What Somebody Needs to Say’
"I never really planned, "OK, I’m gonna go in the studio." But the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile murders that took place in July, they compelled me to do something -- and I didn’t know what something was. It was everything from protesting to meeting with the people who I know experienced similar times in history, and formulated plans that contributed to the progression of the people. If I’m doing that during the day or that night, I’m gonna be in the studio so, quite naturally, it just happened."
Eventually, T.I.'s compulsion to do "something" turned into a EP, Us or Else, which is not only arguably one of the best releases of the year but finds Tip sounding more inspired than he has in recent years. On the six-track EP, that runs for about 22 minutes, T.I. speaks out against the number of black men and women who have been killed by white police officers. Killer Mike, Big K.R.I.T., Quavo and Meek Mill all lend a verse to the EP as well -- a deliberate move by T.I.
"I wanted people who weren’t necessarily expected to speak on the topic to speak on the topic," said T.I. in an interview with Billboard.
He said he wasn't worried about the EP being too preachy, because at the end of the day, he was just telling the truth--something people want to hear.
"You tell the truth with no real personal gain," he said. "I ain’t making no ton of money doing this sh--. I’m just doing it because I feel like this is what somebody needs to say, and needs to say in layman’s terms. I think that if you get too sophisticated with your wording, it can kind of get lost in translation. You gotta break it all down like how it affects the blue collar, everyday working man on the street. How does this affect him or her? And once you can be the voice for those people, it’s not preaching, it’s just acknowledging the obvious."
As for the issue at hand, the Atlanta rapper also spoke about Colin Kaepernick's protest.
"I support it wholeheartedly. I think that’s the perfect way to use your platform and peacefully protest. I think it’s more paying respects to the victims than necessarily protesting. I’ve never seen so many people so up in arms about something that should be so insignificant to them. It’s almost like, "How dare you speak up for yourself? How dare you not lay there and take it?" I don’t understand. If this is not acceptable, what is?" he said. "I think that the approach that Kaepernick takes in taking a knee is the same approach a soldier would take to pay respects to casualties of war, soldiers that lost their lives on the battlefield. They would take a knee. So Kaepernick is treating the victims of these atrocities as casualties of war, and I think that is respectful. The only way you could have a problem with that is if you truly devalue the lives of minorities."
Check out the full interview here.