T.I. has an ear for talent. The Hustle Gang chief, who signed B.o.B and Travi$ Scott, knew he was onto something big when he discovered a blonde Australian rapper named Iggy Azalea. Since then, Iggy has taken over the charts and become a global sensation, but Tip always saw it coming.
“As soon as I seen her, I seen it,” he told Rap-Up TV of his “Fancy” protégée.
He offers her advice, but she doesn’t always take it. “She has an incredible vision for herself,” said Tip. “She sees things that none of us can see. At the end of the day, the final say will lie in what Iggy Azalea feels is appropriate for her legacy.”
While she has experienced some bumps along the way, T.I. has been impressed with the way she’s been dealing with her newfound fame. “All in all, I think she’s handling herself like a G just simply because she’s not jumping off the Empire State Building,” he said. “With the amount of pressure being put on her, the amount of demands, and all the different directions she’s being pulled so many times a day, I think she’s handling herself very well and staying grounded and true to who she is.”
She’s been pitted against Nicki Minaj, but Tip says there’s no real beef, and even left the door open to a collaboration.
“That is something that me and Lil Wayne, we maybe could broker,” he said. “If Nicki agrees to it, I would definitely massage the ears of my young Azalean. She never had a real problem with Nicki. I think it’s just a female competition thing. And I don’t even think Nicki really, really has a problem with Iggy. I think they’re both like, ‘There’s only enough room for one bad bitch at a time.’ I think it’s more that than someone genuinely not liking someone else.”
While he works on bringing the ladies together, he is also trying to put together a Hustle Gang tour. “I’m trying to work on a B.o.B, T.I., Iggy Azalea, Travi$ Scott—I’m trying to do a Hustle Gang tour,” he said. “It’s very ambitious. We’ll see.”
With his ninth album Paperwork in stores this week, T.I. celebrated its release with a concert for iHeartRadio on Thursday in Burbank, Calif. Before hitting the Honda Stage to perform his hits including “Bring ‘Em Out,” “Live Your Life,” and “About the Money,” the King caught up with Rap-Up TV to discuss collaborating with Chris Brown on the raunchy bedroom banger “Private Show.”
“We wanted to make grown women cream themselves. I think that was the pure, definite intention behind the record,” said Tip. “I think that we were both kinda trying to one-up one another: ‘You’re not gonna make a girl cream before me. I’m gonna say something that you didn’t say and it’s gonna make her feel a way that you didn’t make her feel.’ We just kinda continued that volley back and forth and then we had a little ball of inappropriate innuendos at the end of it called ‘Private Show.’”
Earlier this week, Troy Ave fueled speculation that he signed to T.I.’s Grand Hustle label by appearing on the Hustle Gang remix to DeJ Loaf’s “Try Me” alongside Tip and Trae Tha Truth. While a contract may not be finalized, T.I. considers Troy to be Hustle Gang.
“Never mind the paperwork, I can’t really speak for the deals or the solidification of a professional relationship, but personally he’s definitely Hustle Gang. That’s something that I feel comfortable saying.”
He praised the Brooklyn rapper, who was among this year’s XXLFreshman Class. “He’s a solid cat,” said Tip. “He has something that New York has been missing for quite some time and he’s not afraid to be a New Yorker. I salute him for that early on.”
T.I. is battling it out against Logic on next week’s charts, but sales are not his priority anymore. “Don’t get me wrong, everybody wants to do well in everything that they do, but at the same time you have to judge yourself based on a scale of the statistics of what’s considered normal or acceptable for today. Ultimately the fans receiving it and really being able to relate to the music and really appreciating it as much as we appreciated putting it together, that is more important to us at this point in time.”
The multi-tasking mogul doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon. He will star in the upcoming Marvel movie Ant Man and has already chosen titles for his next two albums, Paperwork: The Return and Paperwork: Love and Liability.
Tiara Thomas is winning. The Indianapolis singer-songwriter scored a platinum hit out the gate with her 2013 Wale collaboration “Bad” and even had Rihanna remix her song—all before dropping an album. After being courted by several labels, Tiara inked a deal with Rico Love’s Division1/Interscope Records, where she will release her debut album The Bad Influence in 2015.
“Everybody has had somebody that they should not be messing with no more. I just wanted to base my whole album off that concept,” she told Rap-Up TV of the title.
Earlier this month, the 25-year-old debuted the Set It Off-inspired video for her first single “One Night.” “I just wanted my first single out to be something that sounded really different. It didn’t sound like your typical R&B girl song,” she said.
Last summer, she had girls all over the world singing along to her lyrics, including Rihanna. “Rihanna on the ‘Bad’ remix was really cool, just because she’s huge. Her singing my lyrics that I wrote, it was dope. That’s definitely an accomplishment.”
However, her proudest achievement to date is having a platinum record. “A lot of artists don’t do that, even ones that have been out for a long time. For my first song, that was pretty cool.”
But despite her success, Tiara is not getting too comfortable. “People back at home in Indy, they might look at me like, ‘Oh, she’s successful. She made it.’ And I don’t feel that way,” she said. “I wanna be on such a larger scale. Success is like, I have to have Grammys, I have to be happy ’cause if I’m not happy then I’m not successful.”
Nicole Scherzinger has found success overseas with her 2011 album Killer Love, but she has yet to conquer the U.S. In early 2015, the former Pussycat Doll will release her solo debut Big Fat Lie stateside via Epic Records. During a quick promo run in Los Angeles, Nicole caught up with Rap-Up TV to discuss her new sound and emotional journey.
“I’ve been waiting a minute, a strong minute to come out with an album finally here in the U.S.,” said the 36-year-old singer, who will star in the West End production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. “I think it was important for me to come out with something that’s really authentic to who I am as an artist.”
She was brought to tears while recording the first single, the raw and vulnerable ballad “Run.” “The song is deeply personal to me and it does show another side to me, a vulnerable side that people don’t normally get to see, a more raw side, an authentic side,” said Nicole.
She credits executive producers Tricky Stewart and The-Dream for helping her find her voice. “I realized when I opened up about some of the struggles, I was able to be a voice and help other people to have the courage to fight back whatever they were going through.”
The title Big Fat Lie has multiple meanings. “First of all, there a lot of misconceptions about me out there. For other people, things aren’t always what they appear to be,” she said. “Another reason is the big fat lies I think we tell ourselves sometimes. Everybody’s got something they’re dealing with. And I know I have my fair share and lot of people don’t feel like they can relate to me, but they don’t realize I can actually relate to them.”
She hopes the album will be well received in the U.S. “I’m so damn passionate about it and I worked so hard, so it would mean a lot for people to see the heart and the soul that I put into my music,” said an emotional Nicole. “It would mean a lot to really hit back home and have everybody feel and connect and love the album and the music.”
Look out for Part 2 of our exclusive interview next week.
Teyana Taylor will silence her critics when she releases her debut album VII on November 4. The project has been years in the making for the Harlem singer, who parted ways with Pharrell’s Star Trak/Interscope Records and signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music in 2012.
And no one could be more excited than Teyana herself. Rap-Up TV caught up with G.O.O.D. Music’s First Lady backstage at August Alsina’s “Testimony Live” tour in L.A. to discuss the long-awaited release.
“It’s kinda hard because people don’t really know the politics behind the industry,” said Teyana. “Everybody is being impatient and so am I. I’m like, ‘I need answers now.’ I finally got an album. I’m just as excited as everybody else and I just hope everybody likes it.”
She has enlisted production from Bangladesh, Harmony, Boi-1da, Hit-Boy, and The Order, with appearances from Pusha T, Yo Gotti, Fabolous, and her friend Chris Brown, who appears on “Do Not Disturb.”
“It’s one of those slow animated songs,” she said of the Breezy duet, which she has been performing on tour.
Unlike her past situation, Kanye West has given her the freedom to do what she wants. “He definitely gives you that creative control. He kinda lets you do you and then you take your project to him,” said Teyana. “You have it all laid out and then he puts the icing and the candles and blows ‘em out and everything else.”
But she won’t hand in the album to Kanye until it’s perfect. “I’m a perfectionist just like him. He always says I’m a female version of him.”
In keeping with the title, VII will be packaged with seven visuals, which she plans to tease in the weeks ahead.
Common, J. Cole, and Drake have all co-signed Jhené Aiko, and now Chris Brown is calling on the in-demand songstress. The two engage in some “Drunk Texting” on their intoxicating duet off Brown’s new album X.
With her own album Souled Out in stores, Rap-Up TV caught up with the L.A. native to find out how the collaboration came to be.
The singers have known each other since Chris released his 2005 debut, and things happened organically. “For me, I like to just do things that I really like. If I like the song, then I’ll do it,” said Jhené.
“They sent the song and it was easy. I just had to go in there and sing it with him. I actually recorded it in this tight schedule, but I really did enjoy the song and I felt like people are really gonna be singing this. They’re gonna relate to the song ’cause everyone of drinking age can relate to drunk texting.”
She’s been a CB fan since “Run It,” and admires his perseverance. “I’ve always been a fan of the music and just his drive to keep going despite everything that happens, and I feel like I can relate to that because it happens, especially in this industry,” she explained. “They’re gonna come after you, time and time and time, you’re always gonna be your mistakes in people’s eyes. But it’s not about that. At the end of the day, it’s about the music.”
Check back for more from our exclusive interview with Jhené next week.