t.i.-2

Back in August of 2015, T.I. had decided that his deal with Columbia wasn’t enough for him. He released only one album during the partnership, 2014’s Paperwork and to say it underperformed would be a bit of misnomer. T.I. decided to make an exodus from the entire major label logjam, becoming one of the more prominent artists in music to head indie. After a year and a few months outside of the machine, T.I.’s jumped back in, signing a distribution deal with Jay Z’s Roc Nation imprint. T.I.’s been calling himself the “Jay Z of the South” ever since 2006’s KING dropped. Now he and Jay Z work together, sort of.

The sort of here is that T.I. is not signed to Roc Nation as an artist. Meaning, he’s not on a roster than includes Rihanna, Vic Mensa, Jay Electronica, DJ Mustard, J.Cole and Hov himself. Rather, he’s an independent partner and whenever he releases an album, it’s Roc Nation’s job to stock the shelves of retailers for him, to push his songs for radio airplay, etc. So T.I.’s technically still an independent artist but he’s like Macklemore now, a big name with a distribution deal that can get his music everywhere while he retains a large chunk of pie.

Second, there have been multiple reports stating that T.I. has become part artist-owner of TiDAL, the much maligned streaming service that seems to have finally found its sea legs. The outfit’s 2016 hasn’t necessarily gotten off to a smooth start, fumbling Rihanna’s ANTI release and also having a helping hand in the extended maze of uncertainty that was The Life of Pablo. The only good has come with Beyoncé’s “Formation”, which you could only download from TiDAL but the video could be grabbed on all streaming platform services, including YouTube.

The part-ownership tag is also a bit of a stretch in terms of adding to T.I.’s lengthy coffers considering that twenty-two other people are artist-owners on TiDAL. Jay Z, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Daft Punk (two people), Jack White, Madonna, Arcade Fire (six people), Alicia Keys, Usher, Chris Martin, Calvin Harris, deadmau5, Jason Aldean and J. Cole are all on board and each of them are in it for the long haul. Yes, they’ve all fought the rocky waters of the initial rollout and can claim ownership of something yet it hasn’t exactly panned out the way. By comparison, Spotify has a net worth of $8.5 billion, Soundcloud is rumored to be going belly up and Apple Music, the one shark who rules these waters still seems to be chugging along without any real competition. For those artist-owners believing they’re getting a multi-million dollar payday out of TIDAL, it may be a while.

But on the music side, T.I. at least has released a video for “Money Talk” that you can view exclusively on TIDAL

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