07/29/2008 at 10:00 AM EDT
Rapper T.I., who just finished working with Mariah Carey
on her new music video, "I'll Be Lovin' U a Long Time," tells PEOPLE that he enjoyed the experience with the singer. "She's a phenomenal talent," he says. "Extremely professional."
The hip-hop star has a lot currently going on. He's about to drop a new album, Paper Trail
and begin shooing a new movie. But the one thing he wishes he could do is vote. His recent conviction on federal weapons possession charges makes him ineligible to cast a ballot. (He's currently on probation and will begin serving a 12-month sentence in March.)
So the 27-year-old multi-platinum selling artist decided to get other young people to do their civic duty as the spokesperson for the Hip-Hop Caucus's new Respect My Vote campaign.
"I can't vote," he told PEOPLE in Washington D.C. on Monday. "So I said, 'Okay, so if I'm going to have to be minus my own vote then the least I could do was urge the masses.' I can replace my vote with at least a million, two million others."
T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris, was in town to help kick off Hip-Hop Caucus's new national voter registration drive, which is aimed at young people who aren't in college.
"This is one of the most significant elections of our lifetime. We must get out there and make our voices heard by voting," T.I. told the audience of several hundred screaming young fans. "It's negligent to sit around and watch an election pass by and not have an influence whatsoever on the outcome. That ain't sexy."