T.I.'s seventh album was originally titled King Uncaged. But that was before the King learned that he'd be cage-bound once again. When T.I. caught a drug rap and a harsh 11-month sentence, he renamed his album No Mercy to reflect his inability to escape judgment -- in the court of law and in the court of public opinion. T.I. has always tackled his demons publicly with music as his weapon. While powerfully personal, his latest batch of self-medication ODs on a tired formula.
Arguably T.I.'s worst outing yet, No Mercy relies on gruesomely listless party tunes and the occasional whining. One moment he's praying for clemency, the next he's threatening the jerk on his Twitter page. No Mercy teases a poignant path every now and then, as on the Scarface-assisted "How Life Changed." But as soon as you start to figure it out, it changes its mind again. To borrow a line from "Get Back Up," T.I.'s road to redemption has no GPS. But as he warns us in the same song, "try not hold that against me, though."
The production on No Mercy is painfully generic for a rapper once known for rocking some of the best beats money can buy. Excruciatingly cheesy tunes play background atmosphere to T.I.'s lethargic musing. Among the worst: the egregious "Lay Me Down," the dour, humorless "Amazing," and the remarkably sappy "Castle Walls" with Christina Aguilera.
No Mercy will elicit widespread yawnage. Man, whatever happened to the guy who used to get it poppin' with that 8-ball corner-pocket rhyme?Best Tracks
- "How Life Changed" (feat. Scarface & Mitchelle'L)