By People Staff
April 24, 2006 12:00 PM

AGE: 25


LATEST GIGS: Topping the charts with his new album King and starring in the movie ATL


He’s recorded a hit with Destiny’s Child (“Soldier”), coproduced a big movie soundtrack (Hustle & Flow), got his own sneaker line with Reebok and even appeared on The O.C. Now with a No. 1 album and a hit movie to boot, the rapper-actor-entrepreneur born Clifford Harris Jr. officially wears so many hats that he’s given himself different names. “Everybody who knows me calls me Tip,” he says. “T.I. is the entertainer. Tip doesn’t really care about fame. They kind of blame each other for misguided actions in the past. T.I. blames Tip for us getting locked up [for a probation violation in 2004] at such a pivotal point in our career. Tip’s mad at T.I. for wearing an ascot to the Vibe Awards. To see them go head up … I wonder who will win!”


A dad of four who says he goes “to parent-teacher conferences and stuff,” T.I. is glad his sons Messiah, 6, Domani, 5, and King, 1, and daughter Deyjah, 4, have a more comfortable childhood than the one he had. “I stole because I couldn’t afford to get it. But they can,” says T.I., who was raised by his grandparents in a rough part of Atlanta and sold drugs as a teen. So he practices tough love: “Do right, or get that ass whupped!”


Though he’s been called the Jay-Z of the South, T.I. isn’t letting success affect his lifestyle. “You’ll catch me in the grocery store, pumping my own gas, driving myself around,” he says. “I’m a real person. Stars are in the sky; people walk the streets.” Maybe so, but T.I. walks the streets more stylishly than most. “I wore these twice,” the fashionable bachelor says, pointing to his white sneakers. “I’m not going to wear them anymore. I’ll give them to my little cousin. When the shoe strings get dirty or the front creases, I can’t have that!”