Asa hip-hop fan and journalist I have watched a multitude of unremorseful rappersget incarcerated.
Thisis not to say that I don't think that some of the arrests were unjust because Ido. But in the endless instances of drug charges, acts of violence and evenperjury, I have never seen a hip-hop artist admit to any wrongdoing or acceptany responsibility for their actions that ultimately lead to their sentencing.
Thisalways concerned me because of the message it sends to the young impressionablefans. A message that says someone else was to blame for rapper's decision to carryingan illegal drug, assault someone or lie in court.
T.I.originally seemed to be heading down that same path when he pleaded guilty whencharged with attempting to buy unregistered machine guns and silencers the dayhe was scheduled to perform at the 2007 BET Hip Hop Awards in Atlanta. He posted the $3 million bail andwas sentenced to house arrest. But he reconsidered maintaining his not guiltyplea when he learned that if he lost in court he could face a maximum of 10years in prison and $250,000 fine for each count.
LastMarch, T.I. was fortunate to be able to make a deal with the judge. In exchangefor admitting guilt to a federal weapons charge he could serve one year and oneday in jail. Friday, he was officially sentenced and will begin serving hisjail time in the next 30 to 60 days.
Buteven though T.I. managed to avoid more severe punishment for his crime, heactually did something that other rappers in his same position likely wouldhave never done. He accepted responsibility.
Whenhe entered the Atlantacourtroom Friday he did not make excuses, reports AP. "Today, I would like tosay thank you to some, and apologize to all," the multiplatinum selling rappersaid to U.S. District Judge Charles Pannell Jr.
"EverythingI learned was through trial and error," T.I. added. "I've learned lessons in mylife to put in my music so people won't make the same mistakes as I."
Iappreciate that T.I. was not justspewing rhetoric.
Hiscurrent single "Dead And Gone," a collaboration with Justin Timberlake, isabout a reformed man who has learned from his transgressions. He raps, "Now Iget it now I take time to think before I make mistakes." The hardcore rappermanaged to do the impossible by scoring a hit with a positive record. The songis No. 4 on The Billboard Hot 100chart and peaked at No. 2.
Additionally,T.I. has completed 1,000 hours of community service, a lot of which hasincluded talking to kids about avoiding the troubles he experienced. He hasmade 262 related public appearances.
Additionally,he was the subject of a MTV reality show called "Road To Redemption" thatchronicled some of his efforts to help steer kids onto the right path.
T.I.has also recently said that he hoped that kids would be not impressed by hisrap sheet but would acknowledge that he is taking the steps to become a changedman.
Hopefully,T.I.'s plight will not just inspire youth, but his fellow rappers alike.