The countdown begins for Clifford Harris as he casts his final 45 days in front of the camera in "T.I.'s Road to Redemption." Awaiting his final day of reckoning, one that could land him in jail for up to 30 years, rapper T.I. attempts to steer seven young hustlers off their prison-bound path and out of death's way.
Much like these young hustlers, T.I. began his life of crime at an early age. Shortly after he turned double digits, T.I. was introduced to hustling as a means of saving his family from poverty. Some 32 arrests later, federally charged for the possession of drugs and, recently, for charges involving firearms and explosives, the reality of living the rest of his life in prison hits home for T.I., a convicted felon, fiance and father of six.
Publicly announcing his sins, T.I. appears to be taking responsibility for his actions, though he admits that his decisions made sense at the time. However, this fine publicity stunt is questionable, seeing as how T.I.'s new found "do-gooder" attitude was prompted by the possibility of a lesser sentence. As part of such conditions, T.I. must complete 40 hours of community service per week, reaching 1,000 hours in one year if his current sentence is to be reconsidered.
Watching this show, T.I. portrays an extremely convincing character. He tells his own story, shows clips of his many run-ins with trouble, preaches his life-lessons to youngsters and films a loving family dynamic for proof that he is a caring man. Furthermore, the teens he is attempting to help are ones much like him when he was growing up-- ones with issues at home. From violence to poverty, T.I. tries to convey to his audience that it is not all bad kids, or bad people for that matter, who take part in criminal activities. T.I.'s goal is to show hustlers that what may appear to be their only option for salvation, a life of crime, is not in fact so and will only lead to more misery.
This is all very nice to believe and some of it might even be true, since T.I. really is making an impact on these seven lives, he shouldn't be getting the easy ride he is. Maybe it is understandable that T.I. began disobeying the law because he needed to keep his family alive, but he is a successful artist now and has no more excuse. Old habits die hard and in this case, they obviously didn't at all. Thirty-two arrests, possession of illegal substances and weapons-- if he was not a Grammy-winning rap artist, known around the world and loved, his current sentence would not be given a second thought. The fact that he had the money to bail himself out is one thing, but if any unknown millionaire did the same and then asked to make a reality show out of their impending incarceration, people would shake their heads and be appalled-- they would want this dangerous person to be locked up.
Allowing T.I.'s new show to air places him even higher in the public eye, convincing his fans that he has grown, moved on from his shady past and, because he can rap and win an award, he cannot possibly be a dangerous person. We all have our little secrets, but T.I. might only be going public with a select few. His want to help others out of their tough situations may be real, but for a famous artist, federally convicted, to order unregistered machine guns? This man shouldn't be getting off easy for doing a reality TV show.