Some artists make the best music during the most trying periods of their lives. Ready to write the next chapter in the “troubled artists” book of history is one Clifford Harris. After riding a wave to crossover status that included critically acclaimed albums and a number one movie (“Takers”), TI and wife Tameka “Tiny” Cottle were nabbed in LA on drug charges after being pulled over for – of all things – making an illegal U-turn. The charge constituted a parole violation for Mr. Harris and he’s preparing to do yet another bid in CB4 land.
Thus, the latest album, formerly titled King Uncaged was changed and revamped to No Mercy.
“Get Back Up” features a well delivered assist from 2010’s comeback kid, Chris Brown. Over the Neptunes production, TI raps about overcoming mistakes while throwing a few jabs at would be detractors. Elsewhere on the album, Scarface impresses on “How Life Changed” and Kanye West and Kid Cudi shine on the album’s somber introduction “Welcome To The World.”
The album’s gem is the Eminem assisted “That’s All She Wrote.” Slim Shady comes through with a show stealing verse reminiscent of a more up-tempo “Superman”: “She must’ve took me for some high roller/But i won’t buy her a soda/ Unless it’s Rock n’ Roll cola/ Buy u a bag of Fritos I wouldn’t let u eat the fucking chip on my shoulder.”
If you’re seeing a pattern here, that’s because there is one. The bulk of the album (all but three tracks) features a guest. While most of “No Mercy’s” co-stars hold up their end of the ship – and in several cases, outshine the captain – the ones that don’t become a serious drag on the album. Rocko pops up for the underwhelming “I Can’t Help It.” “Amazing,” featuring Pharrell feels so out of place on an album full of redemption songs. Those looking for a disposable club track of the week will get their feel with “Strip.”
Overall, No Mercy plays like a rollercoaster ride through a man’s final days of freedom. The problem is TI doesn’t really shine on this album. When the Grand Hustle head learns to fully marry his introspective and harder styles, we’re going to see another critical and commercial success.
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