T.I. Pens Open Letter to President Barack Obama: "You Shook Up and Woke Up a Generation"
This is the first in a series of messages from the rapper and actor.
T.I. has entered a real realm of political and social awareness as of late, both in and out of music, and his latest releases will be a series of open letters to President Barack Obama, President-elect Donald J. Trump and all of America.
The rapper and actor's step toward activism is due in large part to the continued killings of unarmed black men and women in America, as well as the country's divisive political climate, which he explored in depth on his Us or Else EP and the Us or Else: Letter to the System album that followed. Now, he has shared his first in the series of letters, this one to Obama, telling the history-making outgoing president that his legacy will live on long after he leaves office.
T.I. told The New York Times, which published his first letter with a recorded reading, that his intent with the letters is "to communicate and share my thoughts and try to be a voice for the people who may be thinking of something to say but, for some reason, may not be able to say it or not have the platform to say it. Using my platform to be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves."
In the letter to Obama, T.I. reflects on Obama's presidency, saying he is "filled with gratitude, outrage, grief, anger, humility and appreciation, both for the things you helped bring to light and the many things we still have yet to realize."
He credits the president for fighting to keep our country from "the very thing we have now become," while the U.S. continuously "failed" him because we were not ready for the change he wanted to bring.
"But rest assured that we heard you. Rest assured that we felt you and rest assured that your legacy will live on long after your presidency," writes T.I. "Not only did you impact a nation, but you defined a culture and you shook up and woke up a generation."
And while much of the U.S. may act like "inequality, hatred and bigotry" are something new to America, continues the rapper, many others know it is nothing new. He thanks Obama for helping us focus on these injustices.
The artist also adds a note of humility, admitting to "engaging in the behaviors that further perpetuate the negative stigma in our communities" before again thanking Obama for "looking beyond our shortcomings."
T.I. ends the letter, "We will forever be grateful to you and your family, the graceful intelligent compassionate first lady, Mrs. Obama, as well as your beautiful daughters Sasha and Malia for their collective sacrifices for US. WE will continue to stand with you and alongside those who make a personal investment in US. We will continue to remain committed to causes that are bigger than ourselves. We will continue to remind ourselves that, Yes, We still can!"
Read the full letter here.
This article first appeared on Billboard.com.