Clifford “T.I.” Harris has transitioned from rubber band man to family man—and a stellar family man, at that. Grammy-winning, multiplatinum rapper turned actor T.I. and his wife, Grammy-wining, multiplatinum singer-songwriter Tameka “Tiny” Harris, have six children: Niq Niq, Messiah, Deyjah, Domani, King and Major. And together, they’ve built the Harris Family while simultaneously giving birth to an empire.
They’re like a modern-day Black Brady bunch, but with super swag. The Harrises are a hustle-driven, positive depiction of an intact Black family in the media. Respect. With T.I. and his queen Tiny leading the pack, it’s almost intuitive that this group would be “about the money.” The Harris family has allowed the world into their lives on VH1’s T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle, and this June marks the beginning of the show’s fifth season. EBONY recently chatted it up with T.I. and Tiny in New York City, where together they prove that the hustle and parenthood can indeed go hand-in-hand.
Naturally life and parenthood come with ups and downs. But as parents, they are all learning experiences. In the season’s first episode, T.I. reveals that the couple was unable to have a honeymoon because of a return to prison. “I kind of went on one [honeymoon], you just didn’t go,” said T.I. in episode one. The King says he’s learned from the experience “not to sweat the small stuff. Stay focused on things that are truly important. I try to advise the children to do the same.”
A man of faith, he’s bounced back and is very involved in raising his children (as seen on The Family Hustle), and tries to ensure that they have core values. “Praise God. Won’t He do it?” T.I. says when discussing his accolades.
As celebrity parents, T.I. and Tiny have no problem keeping their children grounded. They find power in a two-letter word: no. The King of the South and his queen haven’t the slightest issue in shutting the children’s requests down.
“We say no,” T.I. says without any qualms. Tiny chimes in with a very compassionate motherly tone about her son’s persistence: “King is excessive in wanting things, he wants something every day.” Poppa T.I. provides a direct solution to the problem. “Just say no, just like they did in the ’80s,” he says. Apparently, cute faces and persistence have no effect on the couple (particularly dad). “I know many ways to say no,” T.I. continues. “No, hell no, um-um, uh-uh, naw.” And the children will not be receiving Bugattis for Christmas.
Beyond the many, many requests, it’s no easy task raising six kids. But the Harrises lean on their family for support. “We do it together,” says T.I. “Our family helps pitch in when we are gone,” Tiny adds. The Harris family refers to their support system as a village, and The King takes it a little further: “A village, a nation, a kingdom.” T.I. also explains how the family finds balance. “They have to come with us to work sometimes. It’s a delegation of responsibilities and prioritizing of events.”
True to their word, members of family members sat in a room just a few feet away from the interview space. Sons Messiah and Domani have sat in on interviews with the couple during this visit to New York and have even answered questions. The Harris family rolls as a unit when they can, and T.I. says that it promotes cohesion.
Ride-or-die wife Tiny also stays right by T.I.’s side. “I spend a lot of time with him, I’m with him all the time,” she says. (They’ve been married since 2010.) “He doesn’t have no way to go but one way, she says. But despite the unity, if The King were to name an album after his family, he says it’d be called Growing Up and Moving Out. “The ultimate goal of every parent who has a child is to grow ’em up and move ’em out.” Tiny, on the other hand, would choose Getting to the Money, which seems quite appropriate—as an entrepreneur, she launched Tiny’s Tequila last year. Perhaps this is an unofficial mantra?
The Harris empire is real. T.I. and Tiny have used patience and focus to establish their dominion over the entertainment industry. “You got to do it one step at a time,” says the MC. But he also recommends not spreading oneself too thin. “Focus 100 percent of your efforts, energy and attention,” T.I. continues. “The success of that should branch you out into other things.” This seems indicative of the King’s success: MC, actor, author, entrepreneur, and perhaps his greatest accomplishment yet, father.
“If you don’t respect nothing else, you will respect this hustle.” T.I. says finally. But in the case of the Harrises, hustle is a family thing.