T.I. at the Johnson Publishing Company office in Chicago

T.I. at the Johnson Publishing Company office in Chicago

T.I. is plenty busy these days. Last week alone he was filming his hit Vh1 reality series T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle in Chicago before taking over for President Barack Obama as grand marshal of the city’s historic Bud Billiken Parade...and all of this while trying to narrow down the number of songs that will appear on new album Trouble Man (due out this winter) and prepping for the September release of his second novel, Trouble & Triumph. If that wasn't enough, you’ll see him weekly as the freshest talent on Starz’ award-winning, Chicago-based drama Boss.

Of course, while Tip was in the Windy City on business, he stopped by EBONY’s new headquarters to catch us up on, well, everything:

EBONY: Tell us about Boss. It’s a great show.

T.I.: It’s definitely good. The first season? Awesome. It’s a series starring Kelsey Grammar [as a nefarious mayor of Chicago] and I had the pleasure of portraying a character for 9 out of 10 episodes. His name is Trey Rodgers.  He’s a young man, and he has a strong hold on a certain area of the community that has become a focal point for the next election. He takes that influence he has in this area and parlays it into a political position.

EBONY: What do you personally have in common with Trey?

T.I.: Nothing in practice or behavior…just in ambition. [We’re alike in] being ambitious and not letting your environment limit your dreams.

EBONY: We’ve heard a few cuts off of Trouble Man already. What can we look forward to for the rest of the album?

T.I.: Well, I’m trying to get it to you by the end of the year. The music has been recorded. The problem with the process that I’m going through right now is that I recorded 124 songs. I narrowed it down to 86, and I shall continue to narrow it down and narrow it down.

EBONY: Sounds like a lot of work. You’re also famous for your collabos? What will we hear this go around?

T.I.: R Kelly. Me and him did [title song] “Trouble Man.” I’m very proud of that record. You’ll also hear Cee-Lo, Andre 3000 and Lil' Wayne. Also, I’m very close to securing a collabo with Pink.

EBONY: Music seems second nature to you now. But acting is quickly catching up. Do you have a preference in genres?

T.I.: I like shocking the hell out of people, [especially] people who don’t expect me to do well at acting. With music, people say, ‘that’s T.I. and it’s supposed to be good.’ But with acting, it’s different. Music will always have a very special place in my heart because it’s my first love. It’s what I was doing when I couldn’t do anything else. But with acting, there is a different fulfillment. You know what I’m saying? I get a different sense of accomplishment.