(March 3, 2009 – New York City) VIBE magazine, the definitive voice of urban culture, will feature platinum, Grammy Award-winning rapper and actor T.I. on its April 2009 cover in a striking photo. The controversial star’s feature is a prelude to his upcoming prison sentence where he will serve a year and a day for charges related to his illegal possession of firearms.
In an extensive report titled “Cell Therapy,” VIBE Senior Editor Benjamin Meadows-Ingram chronicles the superstar’s history-making legal battle and gut-wrenching journey since his 2007 arrest for attempting to collect three unregistered machine guns and two silencers following his BET Hip Hop Awards performance rehearsal.
After the announcement on March 27, 2008 of what many felt was a shockingly light slap on the wrist for the serious charges, many responded by screaming, “Snitch!” However, authorities agreed to a groundbreaking plea deal negotiated by heavyweight Criminal Defense Attorney, Steve Sadow, who cited the star’s ability to influence others by serving 1500 hours of community service.
US Attorney David Nahmias says, “What [the defense] proposed, and what I ultimately thought was reasonable, is that Mr. Harris has the ability to reach thousands, probably tens of thousands of people, particularly at-risk young people. And that out of the tens of thousands of people he could reach, he has the real possibility of getting at least a few of them not to commit the kinds of crimes we would prosecute.”
T.I. bites back at rumors about how he scored this largely unprecedented deal by saying, “Ain’t no such thing as a secret snitch…Pull up my agreement. It’s public record.”
In the thought-provoking feature, Meadows-Ingram meets with the rapper/actor in Washington, D.C., on the eve of President Barack Obama’s inauguration, where T.I. accepted an award from the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network for his work with the “Respect My Vote” campaign. VIBE follows the rapper during some of his court-mandated speaking engagements and the filming of his MTV show, T.I’s Road to Redemption, where the newly minted role model motivates and inspires at-risk youths. VIBE’s feature story showcases remarkable photos of T.I. reenacting poses made famous by legendary cultural icons Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jay-Z and Snoop Dogg.
In “Música de la Muerte,” VIBE enlists award-winning author and journalist Sam Quinones to write an investigative piece on the unsolved drug-related murders of various pop sensations in Mexico. The feature delves deep into the dark and violent drug underworld, telling the tales of the famous music stars it has affected. Detailing the horrific and shocking stories and accompanied by equally brutal imagery, this story shines a spotlight on a neighboring foreign crisis that’s already bleeding into U.S. soil.
In “The Big Idea,” Chris Yuscavage, VIBE’s Associate Editor breaks down the recent string of athletes involved in weapon related incidents, and poses the question of whether it is actually about protection. The article cites many instances of violence toward professional athletes and interviews an NBA executive, a pro football player, and a sports agent.
Also featured in April’s issue are “The 51 Best Albums That Never Were,” a list of the most hyped and anticipated albums that never made it onto store shelves; an in-depth report on dancehall king Mavado and his unlikely rise to fame following various entanglements titled; “The Real McKoy” by world-acclaimed Reggae authority, VIBE Editor-In-Large Rob Kenner; a feature on rapper Max B and his soured relationship with Dipset capo Jim Jones; a sneak peek from the International Consumer Electronics Show floor reported via Twitter by VIBE editors; a list of some of the best day spas for men & barbershops across the country in “Spot Check,” and much more. VIBE also profiles three new artists, Melanie Fiona, Yung L.A., and Corneille in its Volume section.