Over the last few years T.I. has constantly
dropped heat for the streets. Album after album, he’s managed to stay lyrically
superior to many of his peers, while at the same time maintaining street
credibility. However, he’s had to use various approaches to reach this point in
his career. On I’m Serious, he was a rebel in the trap, speaking on
hood tales. Trap Muzik saw more of the same, but with an elevated
rhyme style, iller stories and better topics. Urban legend certified Tip
as a man who could make hits. Now, he’s got movies and more on his plate, so
you’d think he’d slip, right? Contrary to those beliefs, T.I.
doesn’t fall, but rather rises to take another step towards the throne. He
manages to bundle up the trapper and the rapper in one package. He mixes the
lyrical with the club hits throughout the album, trying to maintain the balance
that Jay-Z perfected.
Lyrically, T.I proves he’s still got it. He shines on story
telling tracks like the Jamie Foxx-assisted “Live in the Sky”
and the stand-out flow glows on “I’m Talking To You.”
His charisma is also on display as he thrives with braggadocios records and
goes rhyme for rhyme with Common on the Neptunes
The emcees discuss the triumphs and struggles in life over a wonderfully smooth
It’s a star-studded affair when it comes to the boards. Mannie Fresh,
Just Blaze, The Neptunes and others round out a solid production team.
The bounce is refreshing on “Front Back” while the bass rattling “I’m Talking to You”
adds fuel to the blaze. Sure, “Stand Up Guy” and
are repetitive and lazy, but overall, the production work is impressive. He’s
got soul and party-anthems mixed in with hardcore street records and somehow it
doesn’t sound too contrived.
Now, is T.I. truly the King? Tip
seems convinced, and he has seemed to convince a lot of people both by his
skill and force of will (dude does say it A LOT). His latest effort is the
showcase of a business-savvy man who knows he has to cater to the streets and
the clubs in order to maintain and gain fans. With King he
further solidifies himself as a star in the industry who is capable of making
songs with substance. Still, once he realizes he can expand his creativity even
more and stop making filler songs like “Stand Up Guy,” he may get a better shot
at an undisputed rule.