Rapper T.I. turns prison journey into reality TV

Tue Feb 3, 2009 5:46pm EST
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By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A new reality TV show depicts a U.S. rapper preparing to go to prison for a year on weapons offenses, but rather than glamorize his crimes, hip hop star T.I. is trying to teach others not to make the same mistakes.

T.I. -- whose real name is Clifford Harris -- says he wants to turn his life around with "T.I.'s Road to Redemption," a series on New York-based cable channel MTV in which he also aims to give seven at risk youth a wake-up call.

"I'm saying as much as I can, in whatever way I can, to stop this teen-on-teen violence epidemic, this back and forth nonsense that happens in the inner city all too often," the rapper, 28, told Reuters as he changed the battery on an ankle monitor he has to wear until he enters prison.

The Grammy award-winning rapper was arrested on October 13, 2007 -- the 32nd time he had been arrested -- with machine guns and silencers and spent more than six months under house arrest, facing a possible prison sentence of 30 years.

But in a deal with prosecutors, T.I. -- who is not allowed to own firearms due to a previous drug conviction -- pleaded guilty to illegally possessing weapons and his sentencing was suspended for one year.

Under the deal, if T.I., a father of six, completes 1,000 hours of community service by next month, he will serve one year in jail. So far he has completed more than 900 hours, mostly talking to young people in a bid "to inspire change."

His reality series -- in which he tries to shock some young people by showing them what it's like to spend time in a prison cell, or taking them to a morgue to see a corpse -- is not part of his community service.

MTV decline to comment on whether the rapper is being paid for the reality series.   Continued...