T.I. Gets ‘Serious’ on His Debut Album: October 9 in Hip-Hop History
In our Dirty South edition, we salute Atlanta rhymers T.I. and Bubba Sparxxx who released their under-appreciated debut albums on this day. In addition, Flo Rida put out "Low," which catapulted him into rap stardom. Check it out below.
2001: T.I. releases his debut album I'm Serious
Before T.I. became the self-proclaimed "King of the South," he was trying to make a name for himself in the rap game with his debut album I'm Serious, which was released on this day in 2001. Produced by several top-notch hitmakers like the Neptunes, Lil Jon and Jazze Pha with guest appearances from fellow Atlanta rappers like Pastor Troy, Youngbloodz and Bone Crusher, the album became an underground classic.
Unfortunately, despite selling less than 300,000 copies, LaFace Records considered his album a failure and dropped him from their label. In hindsight, it was a blessing in disguise because Tip would eventually sign with Atlantic Records and go on a successful seven-album run and launch a new sub-genre in rap called trap music.
With a 20-year rap career under his belt, Tip said he has totally evolved from being a rap newbie with I'm Serious until now as an elder statesmen of trap music.
"[I've] changed, definitely. One hundred and eighty degrees," he stated to Noisey in 2014. "I think life has a way of changing people. Life is a constant evolution, just a series of adjustments. And when you stop growing, you start dying."
"So for me to remain the same that I was then, I'd stop living," he continued. "There's no more life because the evolution has ceased and desisted. I don't think that's healthy, I don't think it's realistic, I don't think it's human. I've definitely progressed."
2001: Bubba Sparxx introduces country rap with Dark Days, Bright Nights
On this day in 2001, Bubba Sparxxx, whose real name is Warren Anderson Mathis, released his debut album Dark Days, Bright Nights. Under the tutelage of veteran hitmaker Timbaland, the Georgia rhymer introduced his so-called “country rap” to hip-hop. On his catchy single “Ugly," Sparxxx delivers countrified battle raps over a thunderous beat mixed with flickering guitars, flutes and haunting synths grooves.
“I think I represent country hip-hop and southern hip-hop. That’s what I’m a representative of,” he told HipHopDX in 2013. “I incorporate different musical instruments in my music like southern rock, blues, country music, bluegrass and all kinds of other elements. You aren’t going to find a song where you’re not going to say there is some pretty authentic rapping going on.”
“If you think about the ‘Ugly’ video with me in the pigpen being a country dude, it’s been embedded in who I am as an artist,” he continued. “I embrace both sides of being southern and being country. I always say, ‘Before I’m white, country or southern, I’m hip-hop. I believe that hip-hop defines me.’ It’s a beautiful thing. I love being a part of this culture."
2007: Flo Rida drops his biggest single "Low"
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Flo Rida’s debut album Mail on Sunday. The lead single from the project was the club banger “Low” featuring T-Pain, which is one of the biggest singles of his career. Released on this day in 2007, the song spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also turned the Florida rapper into global rap star.
"['Low'] was a very versatile record, so it took me to being not just the typical urban artist, but to being a pop star as well," he recently told Billboard. "Now that I look back, I’m like, 'Wow, I’ve had big records, but that record was just insane.'"
"That record is the record that, basically, once it hit radio, once it hit the clubs, it was like a snowball effect. It was a global phenomenon. I didn’t really think of the international market -- I thought America was my goal and my focus. This record took me from a national star to a worldwide star."
Nona Hendryx and Ini Kamoze are born
On this day, R&B veteran Nona Hendryx (née Vicki Wickham) was born in Trenton, N.J., in 1944. The singer was a member of Labelle (along with Patti Labelle, Cindy Birdsong, and Sarah Dash) who are known for their indelible classic “Lady Marmalade.” Dancehall star Ini Kamoze was also born on this day in 1957. A native of Jamaica, Kamoze, whose real name is Cecil Campbell, is famous for his 1994 hit song “Here Comes the Hotstepper,” which spent two weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.