(Memphis) Rapper T.I. gave a free concert to thousands of Memphians on Tuesday in efforts to encourage donations of food and toys.
The event was captured by a VH1 crew and featured in the season finale of a reality show about T.I.’s family.
T.I. served prison time for an illegal weapons charge and was released in late 2011. He told News Channel 3 he felt judged by people who made assumptions based on those headlines.
He referred to his “time spent across the bridge over there” and said that “the people of Memphis kept me uplifted for the most part. They were a strong part of that. So I just want to do what I can to give back.”
On Tuesday, he encouraged donations to the Mid-South Food Bank, which collected more than 700 lbs. from the event.
He also promoted a toy drive organized by Olympic Tax Services and other local establishments, in conjunction with the city of Memphis.
One thousand families identified by income level were chosen to receive the donated toys.
“Me being one of those kids that didn’t have anybody to give back to them, kind of you know. It made me want to give back more,” T.I. told local media.
During Tuesday’s event, Mayor A C Wharton gave T.I. a key to the city.
Speaking about T.I.’s life after prison, Wharton said, “it shows that there is redemption, that once you go through those troubles, that if you come out and show yourself well, as T.I. has done, folks are still going to be here with you.”
Indeed, about 2,000 people showed up eager to see T.I. perform in the parking lot of Southland Mall.
Many, like Nicole Moss, brought their children.
Moss wanted her young daughter to see people giving to the charitable organizations.
While she wouldn’t necessarily have her daughter emulate T.I. in every way, she said in certain ways, she’d like to teach her child that one should fix mistakes and move on.
“You could still be a role model. Everybody has their ups and downs, and you go through things and changes. So you can change,” Moss said.
T.I. said that he would tell young people in Memphis to be prepared for adversity, because every person will go through some trouble in life.
“Welcome the challenge of adversity, and go through it. And come out the other side of it a better person. That’s my testimony because that was my experience,” he said.