*T.I. is quick to remind everyone that his new MTV reality series, "T.I.'s Road to Redemption: 45 Days To Go," is not part of the 1000 hours of community service he must complete as part of his year-long prison sentence on gun charges.
However, his attempt to change the lives of seven at-risk teens is definitely part of a quasi-redemption journey taken by MTV, which in December announced its intention to shift away from self-indulgent-oriented programming toward an Obama-era emphasis on public service and personal transformation.
In the first episode, airing tomorrow night at 9 p.m., T.I. says the shooting of his childhood friend Philant Johnson in Ohio stirred the paranoia that drove him to purchase guns illegally on Oct. 13, 2007.
The hour-long premiere spends the first 15 minutes explaining the back story of his predicament, including the March 2008 plea agreement reached with the federal government that came with the 1000 hours of community service before a 366-day prison sentence to begin in March.
The rapper's first extreme makeover involves Pee-Wee, an 18-year-old self-described hustler from Atlanta. Cameras follow T.I. as he takes the teen on a "Scared Straight"-type fieldtrip to a jail cell and a funeral home. The visits drive home T.I.'s point that he will end up either dead or in jail if he continues along his destructive path.
The series will also chronicle T.I.'s personal life as he spends his remaining free days with his five children and longtime girlfriend, Tameka "Tiny" Cottle, the mother of two of his kids, King and Major Harris. Tuesday's episode shows the rapper juggling his work demands with attending King's birthday party.
MTV says the title will change each week to reflect the number of days left before T.I. begins serving time. The final episode will air shortly after the rap star's fate is revealed. After tomorrow night's premiere, subsequent episodes will air in the show's regular timeslot at 9:30 p.m. ET.