T.I.

In the rap game equivalent of Henry IV seizing the throne from Richard II, T.I., born Clifford Harris Jr., crowned himself King. The Rubberband Man's fourth album dropped at a crucial moment in 2006: the week of his film debut in ATL, while Jay-Z was still "retired," and before Ghostface Killah or Clipse raised the bar for cocaine rap. While certified club bangers such as "What You Know" and "Get It" furthered his own Urban Legend and Trap Muzik, it was his alliance with mainstream artists such as Justin Timberlake, Jamie Foxx, Pharrell and Common that ensured T.I.'s successful crossover. Balancing boastful bravado and street-wise sensitivity, King pushed more than 500,000 copies its first week and helped T.I. reign supreme over the Billboard, B.E.T. and Source Awards. The mogul's empire will only expand with the recent release of his fourth volume of the In Da Streetz compilation and the debut of his new magazine, Dapper, which hit stands last month. A word to the wise: T.I. may boast of fitting a whole pound of diamonds on his wrist, but it was Henry IV who famously lamented, "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."
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Austin Powell