Watch: Why T.I.’s song ‘Top Back’ almost never happened

T.I. performed Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, at ONE Musicfest in Atlanta. (Photo credit: Robert Williams III for Steed Media)

In 2006, T.I. was at the top of his game. He starred in the film, ATL, released a Grammy Award-winning song, “What You Know,”  and was nominated for a Grammy for his album King.

One of the top songs from King proved to be “Top Back.” The song, produced by Mannie Fresh, featured a strong 808 bass line and trumpets that signified a grand arrival. T.I. decided to dedicate the song to the people, mostly in the South, who played their music loud while driving down the block.

“I like my beat down low and my top let back, Can see me ridin’ twenty-fours with a chopper in the back, Ya like ya Kenwood hot and ya top let back, If ya rims sit high and ya windows pitch black,” T.I. rapped on the song.

But while “Top Back” proved to be a hit, it almost never happened. The song came at a time when Mannie Fresh had a major fallout with his label, Cash Money Records. Due to the disagreement, Cash Money attempted to block Mannie Fresh from working with artists outside of the label, the producer revealed in a 2014 interview with Complex.

Mannie Fresh was eventually able to get out of his contract with Cash Money in 2005, and T.I. was one of the first artists to reach out. The two recorded “Top Back” that year while T.I. was on house arrest.

When the song was released in 2006, it reached No. 8 on the Billboard Rap charts and was featured in a Chevy campaign. But when T.I. was arrested by police for attempting to purchase illegal firearms in 2007, Chevy dumped the campaign.

However, the song remains a hip-hop classic and continued to prove its worth to more than 20,000 fans who danced and bounced as T.I. performed “Top Back” during the 2018 ONE Musicfest.

In case you missed it, click over to the next page to watch a video of the performance.

A.R. Shaw
A.R. Shaw

A.R. Shaw is an author and journalist who documents culture, politics, and entertainment. He has covered The Obama White House, the summer Olympics in London, and currently serves as Lifestyle Editor for Rolling Out magazine. Follow his journey on Twitter @arshaw and Instagram @arshaw23.

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