Above everything, Toomp understands what Trap Muzik did for his career; a career, he admits, he’s still grinding to get his music heard in the vein of a clothing designer always wanting their clothes never far from public reach and desire.
“That album caught so much attention and I was able to display what I had to offer. It ain’t no telling where I’d be without Trap Muzik. Without that album, I’d still be trying to get my stuff heard. It ain’t that easy,” says Toomp.
The T.I. seen 10 years removed from the one who dropped an eye-opening sophomore set is a completely different artist, father, husband and friend. He’s rap’s Heathcliff Huxtable now as seen on VH1′s massively successful T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle. The transformation is one Toomp has been nothing short of pleased to witness court side.
Perhaps he sees it as a little brother navigating through the hurdles life has tossed only to emerge a better person. Perhaps it’s something deeper he chose not to reveal. Regardless, when speaking of his partner-in-rhyme in 2013 – who he fervently says he “can’t wait” to do an entire project with one day soon – Toomp acknowledges the change was exactly what Tip needed.
“You’re definitely seeing a totally different man who has gone through a few ups and downs. All of it was a learning experience. He’s making bigger and better records,” says Toomp. “He’s not just pigeon-holed as this little trap dude. He’s a well-rounded artist who can touch on everything.”
Despite a common belief in rap being evolution harms an artist’s career – and in some cases it may – Toomp hit the nail on the head. T.I. has grown, both in and out of the booth. He had to. He nearly lost everything not doing so.
Nothing will erase Trap Muzik and its role in the South’s rise and decade-plus stranglehold on Hip-Hop. Not the feds, not even death itself. August 19, 2003, changed the life of everyone involved, including Toomp, and the culture of rap as whole. The album proved the same hustler’s ambition, insecurities and pitfalls in hoods from New York, Philadelphia, Chicago to Los Angeles were hurdles in Bankhead and Zone 1, too. The only difference just happened to be the size of a person’s rims on their Chevy.
A king remembered in time, indeed.