"Excuse the mess,” says Tameka “Tiny” Harris, after opening the door to her stately suburban Atlanta home. The grand living room is strewn with Christmas decorations and shredded wrapping paper—in October. Dressed in sweatpants and a T-shirt, the demure woman—whose five-foot frame inspired her nickname—leads the way inside.
The Harris family celebrated the holidays early last year, just in time for the man of the seven-bedroom manse, multiplatinum rapper T.I., to check into Forrest City prison in Arkansas for the second time in three years. Christmas came in October so that 30-year-old Clifford Harris, Jr., could report on November 1 to begin serving an 11-month sentence, just 11 months after being released from prison for federal weapons charges. That same day, his 35-year-old newly wed wife, Tameka Cottle, prepared herself for another stretch as a single mother.
Tip and Tiny met more than a decade ago. He was a young rapper with confidence that bordered arrogance; she was an R&B vet with impressive credentials. Today they have six kids between them: two sons together, Clifford “King” Harris and Major Harris, as well as four children from previous relationships. Tiny thinks of them all as her kids.
“I call it the Harris Bunch,” she says, laughing. “I have my daughter, Zonnique, which is the oldest, she’s 14, and she’s real mild-mannered. My next child, Messiah, he’s 10, he’s like the game boy. Then you have Domani, he’s 9. He’s very good with his hands, very crafty. He can build anything. Then I have Deyjah, she’s also 9. Nobody in the house really messes with her. Then I have King, he’s the monster of the group. He’s my 6-year-old. I don’t know, he’s a real mixture of me and his dad. Very manipulative. He can manipulate his way out of whatever. They say that about me, too.” She flashes a knowing smile. “Then we have Major, which is the 2-year-old. He’s the rough one.”
The last time T.I. was locked up, she threw herself into her work. Besides developing a nail salon—plans for a second one are in the works—she began taping Tiny and Toya, the reality show that became the number one original series on BET for two seasons. “I did that the first time,” she says, “so now [whatever I do] it’s gotta be even bigger and better.” Her real mission, she says, is to make Tip proud.
Tiny plans to spend time in her home’s basement studio, working with her oldest daughter’s group, OMG Girlz; and is looking forward to getting back into production and songwriting (Tiny cowrote TLC’s Grammy-winning smash “No Scrubs”). She and her business partner Keisha Miles (also a former member of Xscape), are toying with the idea of creating a Sex and the City–style reality show in Atlanta, and she says she wants to write a book about love and romance.
Tiny’s phone buzzes and she apologizes while she stops to check an e-mail. Tip may be trying to reach her. She spends every other Sunday and Monday in Arkansas, and in the interim they stay in touch by e-mail. Knowing those e-mails are his only way of keeping up with what he’s missing back home, she likes to respond immediately whenever she gets a message from him. But it’s not him, so she ignores the message and gets back to talking about how she and the kids are managing this time around. The process hasn’t been free of potholes. But it’s a journey she can’t escape.
LIFE WITHOUT T.I.:
“It’s been like a roller coaster. Tip came home at the end of ’09, around Christmas time last year, and it was about getting the family back together.” But his career demanded attention, and he soon began work on his seventh album, No Mercy, as well as his third movie role [Takers]. “He started going back to work, so we was back to our regular schedule,” she recalls. “And then we got married. That was the high of the year, and then three months later he was gone—back again.”
After being together for years, Tip and Tiny finally tied the knot last July, months after his release on federal weapons charges. “Jamie Foxx sung me down the aisle, and El DeBarge sung our first song,” Tiny recalls with a smile. Their guest list read like a past and present awards show lineup: Usher, Nelly, Ashanti, Trina, as well as fellow R&B-turned-reality-stars Toya, Monica, and Kandi Burress. “Jermaine Dupri DJ-ed for us; he was a great DJ. The reception was like a big, big party, so I had a ball,” she says with a chuckle. “Everybody was there. Everybody was drunk. Tons and tons of guests came to see us. It was great.”
BEING A RAP STAR’S WIFE:
“I’ve been with him before he was all of that, and once he became this big sex symbol... I understood what was going to come with it because I had already been in the business,” she says. Tiny and T.I. began dating in 2001; and they’ve learned to adapt to the stresses of a showbiz relationship. “I’m just comfortable in my position and where I stand and what our values are,” says Tiny. “We’re on the same page. Plus, understand I’m with him maybe 85, 95 percent of the time. A lot of times, while all of the attention is going down, I’m right there. I never have to tell someone to back off. Normally he does it first. If it gets that far, he never lets it get disrespectful.”
THE HONEYMOON THAT NEVER WAS:
“We didn’t really get a chance to go on a honeymoon, because he had to go to work three days after the wedding,” she says. They flew to Los Angeles for the premiere of Tip’s film Takers, and made plans for a honeymoon. “We were just enjoying life. The day that we got caught in California, when the incident happened, we were supposed to be going to the Virgin Islands, because he can’t really go a lot of places, so we had to find somewhere where we could just go. But they were having a hurricane and we weren’t able to go. And when I think back, I’m just like, ‘Why wasn’t we there? Because if we were, we wouldn’t be having this trouble right now. But you know, things happen for a reason. It is what it is.”
Friday, Feb 18
- Drake & Lil Wayne @ W Hollywood (6250 Hollywood Blvd)
- Lebron James, Drake & Kenny Burns Host @ Cabana Club (1439 Ivar Ave)
- Lil Wayne Invades NBA All Star Weekend @ Shrine Auditorium & Expo Center (700 West 32nd St)
- Wale & Kevin Durant’s “Welcome To Hollywood” Tip Off Party @ La Vida (1448 N. Gower St.)
- Gucci Mane, Derrick Rose & Shannon Brown Host @ Tru Hollywood (1600 Argyle Ave)
- Dwight Howard Official All Star Kick-Off @ The Highlands (6801 Hollywood Blvd)
- Plies All Star Weekend Celebration with Mann & Cashmere @ 740 (753 S. Spring St)
- All Star Rookie & Sophomore Party With DJ Drama & Roscoe Dash @ Ecco Ultra Lounge (1640 N. Cahuenga Blvd)
- Nicki Minaj & Rick Ross All Star Kick Off Party @ Exchange LA (618 Spring St.)
- The Official Nicki Minaj & Rick Ross Players Ball After Hours Party @ Union Station (800 N. Alameda St)
Saturday, Feb 19
- Jeezy & Friends Host @ Cabana Club (1439 Ivar Ave)
- Jermaine Dupri, Common & Gabrielle Union @ Cabana Club (1439 Ivar Ave)
- Rick Ross & Melyssa Ford @ Marbella (6757 Hollywood Blvd)
- Ciara & Ray J Host @ The Music Box (6126 Hollywood Blvd)
- South Beach Meets Hollywood hosted By Dwyane Wade @ Supper Club (6675 Hollywood Blvd)
- Dwight Howard & Chris Johnson @ The Metropolitan (651 La Peer Dr)
- Celebrity After Party With Ciara, Trina & SKG @ Union Station (800 N. Alameda St.)
- Gucci Mane, Soulja Boy, Waka Flocka NBA All Star Takeover @ Orchid (607 S. Oxford Ave)
- All Star Saturday Night After Hours Party Hosted by Nicki Minaj @ The Bank (117 W. Seventh St)
Sunday, Feb 20
- Jeezy Takes Over The Highlands (6801 Hollywood Blvd)
- DJ Drama, DJ Skee, Fabolous & Dwyane Wade All Star Finale @ Kress (6608 Hollywood Blvd)
- Lebron James, Jermaine Dupri & Common Host @ Cabana Club (1439 Ivar Ave)
- Celebrity Birthday Blowout for Rick Ross, Kelly Rowland & Kid Capri @ Tru Hollywood (1600 Argyle Ave)
- Lil Wayne & Drake @ Siren Studios (6063 West Sunset Blvd Hollywood)
Los Angeles, CA - Atlanta rapper Killer Mike aka Mike Bigga dropped by the FOX studios on Valentine's Day, complete with live band, to give his TV performance debut of "My Mercedes", a song from his upcoming April release, "PL3DGE" (Grind Time Official/Grand Hustle/Tree Leaf/SMC Recordings) for Fuel TV's "The Daily Habit." The rapper also performed his single "Ready, Set, Go" which features T.I. and is currently enjoying both an upward climb at radio and rotation on MTV channels. The production on "PL3DGE" is full of live instrumentation and this performance marked Mike's first chance to showcase his new sound to a national TV audience. The show will air on Monday, February 21st at 11:30PM E/P.
"The Daily Habit" presented by Verizon Wireless, FUEL TV’s first original daily series, brings your favorite adrenaline-fueled athletes and charismatic entertainers together on one stage to discuss everything from web clips to “dude stuff” to “trends that need to end.” If you’ve ever wanted to get inside the heads of the biggest risk takers in hard core sports or the actors, musicians and comedians who risk it all by coming onto our show, stop by “The Daily Habit.” Or you can just come for the hot chicks, cutting-edge bands, and hilarious comedy. Whatever works for you.