T.I. Finally Gets It Right
Let's get this straight: T.I. is not the king of southern hip-hop. But, with his swagger-jacking charm on the microphone, and enough charisma to convince you that he's really running things in his department, he just might be the Jay-Z of the south. T.I.(born Clifford Harris jr.) first sneaked into the rap scene with the poorly-promoted I'm Serious, before releasing the street favorite, Trap Muzik. Following a mixed reaction to his commercially-patented third entry, Urban Legend, the 26-year old Atlanta forerunner has now found the much-elusive balance between accessible tracks and street anthems on King.
Every king needs blaring horns and trumpets to announce his royal entry. So, T.I. does that keenly with the Just Blaze-produced King Back," where he "welcomes you to get acquainted with the youngest in charge" while running down his rap catalog to enlighten those that slept. However, you can't help but observe the conceptual similarities to Jay-Z's opener from The Blueprint - The Ruler's Back." Make no mistakes though, Tip's slow-drawl-laid-back flow is all his. A couple more minutes into the album, the chart-topping single What You Know" helps put mud-slingers in check over DJ Toomp's synth-heavy production.
After several years in the game, T.I. truly understands how to play the collaboration card, and King shows off this strength. The most blissful synergy on the album comes via "Good Life" featuring Common and Pharrell Williams. The Neptunes piano-tinged loops inspire T.I. to spit truth: Even when my days were in the blues, never ran from adversity, just ran to it with Common supplying equally ingenious rhymes. UGK fans are then treated to a pleasure trip on Front Back," a rework of Bun B and Pimp C classic Front Back, Side To Side." Similarly, ATL heads would hail the Young Jeezy - T.I. connection on "I'm Straigh"t which features a rejuvenated B.G. With the exception of a few sonic mishaps like Stand Up Guy" and the chaotic Swizz Beats production onGet It," which do little to hurt the album's overrall outlook, T.I. manages to balance accessible gems with street anthems on King.
King is not only T.I.'s most captivating album so far, it's probably the best thing to come out of the "A-Town" lately. And, as Pimp C explains on one of the album's many skits, a "king" is anyone that handles his business appropriately on the lyrical side of things, and many kings abound in southern rap. With such foraying display of bravado, T.I. has rightfully earned his membership to hip-hop's elite. Royal salute!
- What You Know
- Good Life
- I'm Straight
- Told You So