23 December, 2012@4:38 pm
“Sometimes I ain’t get in trouble, trouble got in me…”
When one thinks of the last few years for one Clifford “T.I.” Harris, it’s hard not to acknowledge that line. Though his image has been repaired through his reality series starring him and his family, as well as various other community endeavors he has been involved in, the self proclaimed King of the South seems to stay in some trouble. While some incidents are justifiably understandable, others have left his fans shaking their heads in disbelief. It’s to the point that people almost seem to forget that at the end of the day, nobody is more affected by T.I.’s actions more so than T.I. himself, and he’s well aware of his circumstances. Everything that he has dealt with and endured these past several years all comes full circle in the appropriately titled, Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head.
It’s been two years since the underwhelming release of T.I.’s No Mercy album. While that can be a slight to his catalogue, most will overlook the final result considering he was incarcerated before he was able to properly finish the album. Still there had been doubts as to whether he could return to form, and those thoughts can be put to rest. Trouble Man is everything that made fans appreciate T.I., as he carries on with all of his trap rap sensibilities.
From the beginning Tip wastes no time reacquainting himself with listeners. “The Introduction” is as memorable as any of his previous album openers. Backed by a soulful sample of the Marvin Gaye song that shares the title of this album, Tip offers no apologies about the life he’s lived. This sentiment is shared especially on cuts like “Trap Back Jumping” which has Tip rapping as inspired as he has in years. While many rappers have based their foundations in distinctive brands of trap music, T.I. is here to remind folks just who introduced it in the first place.
While stepping into familiar territory could be detrimental in some cases, T.I. switches up his presentation through out the album. Cuts like “Wildside” and the stellar “Go Get It” allows Tip to deliver his brash aggressive content from a fresh perspective. Even a scene stealing verse from Andre 3000 doesn’t overshadow the solid outings by Tip in anyway. Yes, “Ball” is as formulaic as singles come these days, but will satisfy the radio market as intended. As an artist that has always been able to find mainstream acceptance while maintaining his street edge, T.I. continues to adopt that formula.
Of course while most will be content with seeing Tip back on his hustle grind tales, it’s the more sentimental songs that truly capture the essence of the Troubled Man. The R. Kelly assisted “Can You Learn” has Tip expressing wariness towards the opposite sex about the dealing with someone who can’t seem to stay on the good side of the law. “Guns & Roses” is an obvious attempt at cross over success, and the result isn’t bad at all as Pink provides hook duties. This sentimental balance reaches its peak as Tip chooses to close the album with a dose of introspection. “Wonderful Life” finds him conversing with his deceased friend, as well as his father. The moment of vulnerability comes off as sincere as he’s ever been, and the album closing “Hallelujah” adds to the effect.
It was nice to see T.I. reunite with producers such as Jazze Pha and DJ Toomp who have provided some of the more important hits of his career in the past. A contributor who shouldn’t be overlooked by any means is T-Minus who shows his versatility by providing the sinister backdrop for “Go Get It”, and switching it up completely with the pop influenced “Guns and Roses”. Versatility on an album such as this should be applauded.
As stated already this album is a return to T.I. in memorable fashion. While he may not have the same hunger as he did on albums such as Urban Legend, he still maintains that charismatic edge. Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head is a combination of the cross over step he took with Paper Trail, but with the aggressive bite that he displayed on Trap Muzik. Fans of those albums should be able to appreciate that, as there is no mistake that the King of the South is indeed back.
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