Michael N. Todaro, Getty Images
Originally jailed in 2009, after his arrest for attempting to buy unregistered weapons, Tip's most recent 11-month stint behind bars resulted from a violation of his probation on drug charges. So now that he has a new lease on life and a new set of priorities -- "God, family, hustle. In that order" -- who is T.I. feeling the pressure from to get it right this time?
"Always the family," he reveals to The BoomBox. "I don't owe the industry nothing but hot music. Hot music and hot material, you know what I'm saying? Because, if I had never gotten into trouble, if I would had never gone to prison, if I stayed on my best behavior at all times and never made hot music, you wouldn't give a damn about me, no way. The process of entertaining and creating the most compelling material, that's what I owe to the public. To my family -- completely different."
The family man insists he is open and honest with his six children -- they range in age from 3 to 15 years old -- about his incarceration and troubled past. "My kids, they know I get in trouble. They've seen it all, from guns to drugs," Tip admits before quickly backtracking to clarify.
"I mean they haven't seen drugs, but they've heard from the other kids in school about the lifestyle I used to live and we have very candid conversations. Not only from me, but from their mothers. Tameka tells them how it was before they were born. And the children that I had before I met Tameka, their mothers tell them stories of how it was before. Hearing those stories and seeing where I am today, they see that growth, they see that evolution." His supportive wife Tiny wrapped her arm around her man and chimed in, "They just want their daddy. They don't care what's going on."
But in the premiere episode of their new family show, the supportive wife says she won't tolerate any more screw-ups from her husband, who was behind bars for three years of their 10-year relationship. "It was just to let him know that he has a lot at home, to be at home for, and to make sure that he stays on track, which he will!" Tiny shares. "I would never leave him," the self proclaimed "ride-or-die chick" asserted. The couple agrees that despite all of Tip's ups and downs and time away, their relationship hasn't changed a bit. "It's just catching up," Tiny said.
T.I. is busy balancing family life with his hectic career, currently working on 'Trouble Man,' his eighth studio album, named after the 1972 Marvin Gaye hit. "The album is called 'Trouble Man,' and every song on there is about something that can get me in trouble -- guns, drugs -- things that I am not currently involved in," he explains. As T.I. raps about subjects from what he now identifies as his past life, the reality show will serve as a "documentation" of his new life.
"If it takes you years to make a masterpiece, at the end of the day, as long as you have a masterpiece do you care how long it took you to make it?" T.I. asked, describing himself as a work-in-progress.
'T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle' debuts Dec. 5 at 9PM ET on VH1.