What’s really wrong with T.I. and Lil Wayne?

Two of hip-hop’s premier performers, Lil Wayne and T.I., have been living up to the lyrics in their rap songs. In the past couple of months the two have been known by their real names instead of their stage names. And instead of standing in front of crowds and fans, they are standing in front of judges and spending a lot of quality time with their lawyers. The question that comes to mind: Are these incidents publicity stunts, or are they still living in their troubled pasts?

Lil Wayne (DeWayne Michael Carter) came onto the scene in 1997 with the Hot Boys, and eight years later, at the age of 25 he is one the best rappers in the South. He is far from the 16-year-old the world was introduced to.

These days, Carter is in the news for all the wrong reasons. On Aug. 14, 2006, he was arrested for possession of marijuana and possession of a controlled substance. On July 22, Lil Wayne was arrested in New York City, after police smelled marijuana in his bag, where they also found a handgun. In October, a warrant for his arrest was issued in Idaho.

Then there is Clifford Harris, better known to the world as T.I., whose music reflects his drug dealing past. His second CD’s title, Trap Muzik, is a drug reference. The 27-year-old’s list of musical accomplishments runs just as long as his rap sheet. Harris, a convicted felon, has been arrested on possession of ecstasy and distribution of cocaine charges. These charges got him three years in prison, but he only had to serve one year.

In August 2006, he was charged with threatening a man at an Atlanta strip club, but charges were dropped. Last week, Harris was arrested four hours before he was supposed to perform at the BET Hip-Hop Awards. He was charged with trying to buy three unregistered machine guns and two silencers.

The question is, what are Carter and Harris trying to prove? First of all they are both small guys, so it is paramount that they be tough. Even though people have doubted Carter’s street reputation, no one has doubted Harris’s reputation. These arrests show that even though these rappers are in positions that kids dream of, they still think that their street reputation is important.