When T.I. took the stage at the BET Hip Hop Awards, he knew that his performance of “We Will Not” was a chance for him to spotlight the Black Lives Matter movement.
It worked. He ended up producing a thought-provoking feat and one of the highlights of tonight’s show. It was also a glimpse into his latest EP, “Us or Else,” which addresses the strained interactions between the black community and law enforcement — as well as Tip’s own evolution from an artist to an activist.
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“I’m not completely abandoning my trap music whatsoever,” T.I. explained in a recent interview. “I just felt compelled in this moment in time to use my talents to deliver these messages.”
The Atlanta native has joined the growing number of celebrities that have taken to using their platforms, on and off the stage, to speak up. For T.I., the need to say something came after the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille this summer. Discussion surrounding those and other incidents eventually started to seep into his music.
“It just seemed all too consistent, all too repeated, all too ignored,” he told the New York Times of police killings this past year.
The new project, therefore, eschews the mainstream, he told Billboard.
“I ain’t making no ton of money doing this shit. I’m just doing it because I feel like this is what somebody needs to say, and needs to say in layman’s terms,” he said. “ And once you can be the voice for those people, it’s not preaching, it’s just acknowledging the obvious.”