Samir Siddiqui reviews T.I.’s highly anticipated new album, “T.I. vs. T.I.P,” set to hit stores July 3rd. You can order your copy now Here. You can of course leave your own opinions, for those that heard it.
T.I. vs. T.I.P.
Grand Hustle/Atlantic Records
by Samir Siddiqui
Hip-hop fans are finally starting to see the downside of repping arguably
the most commercialized genre of music in North America. All preaching and
hating aside, it’s time to face the facts- the quality of hip-hop albums has
been rapidly deteriorating in the past few years. And more than halfway
through 2007, things aren’t looking too bright for mainstream rap, but one
industry staple seems to be standing tall on the hip-hop grounds that have
been wobbling for a while. Coming off the hugely successful, Grammy-award
winning King, T.I. refuses to bank off previous success, and returns with
the swagger-heavy, strongly produced effort, T.I. vs. T.I.P. A strange
concept album to say the least, T.I. (or T.I.P.)’s latest offering isn’t
designed to delve too deep into complex issues, but rather, serves as a
showcase for the intense and entertaining conflict occurring within a
confident emcee looking to mark out his space among hip-hop’s elite.
Divided into three section’s, Clifford Harris gives T.I.P. the honor of
kick-starting the new album, and the rekindled collaboration between Tip and
newly-signed Def Jam producer Mannie Fresh ignites the LP with a booming
exclamation point on “Big Shit Poppin‘,” which ends with Tip issuing a
challenge to his flashy counterpart: “Let the best man win.” The slowed-down
groove on “Watch What You Say To Me” is the backdrop for the
much-anticipated T.I.P.-Jay-Z collabo, and President Carter steals the show
with one of his most best verses in a while, “You was just here, you
disappeared like magicians in thin air, I’m like damn, n**ga at least keep
it consistent// I hear you baitin’ me, lately, I’ve been doin’ my best just
to stay hater-free, still, watch what you say to me!” Timbaland protégé
Danja then provides a synth and tribal drum-heavy production on the
aggressive, Busta Rhymes-assisted “Hurt,” which features Tip and Busta
flipping rapid-fire verses with ease, before the album transitions into “Act
II (T.I.)”. T.I. brings back King contributor Just Blaze to provide a dark,
opera-influenced production on “Help Is Coming,” which is a strong opening
to the weakest of three acts, as T.I.’s lame hooks, repetitive flow, and bad
choice in features (“Touch Down” is the BEST of the three tracks recorded
with Eminem??) bog down the middle portion of the album.
However, Danja’s excellent production chops return for the T.I. vs. T.I.P.
portion of the album, which opens with “Tell ‘Em I Said That” and “Respect
This Hustle,” as the two personas clash in a search for “r-e-s-p-e-c-t”.
Adding to the “battle-tracks” is the album’s concluding song, “My Type,” the
most personal cut on the album, where T.I. and T.I.P. examine the struggle
of getting Clifford Harris to where he is now: “He left millions devastated,
and his family mourns, sons turn to grow men since they daddy been gone,
daughters grew, like him or not, he left his family on, even pre-paid the
funeral service he had in the dome// and that I came to represent for a
stand-up gent, who walked it liked he talked it, and always said what he
meant, impossible to stop him, had a head like cement, maybe now you’ll
appreciate a n**ga like this.” Although this is one of the few songs with
deep lyrical content on the album, it is more an ode to the importance T.I.
puts on variety than anything else.
Having the all-star production lineup that he did, T.I. could have easily
laid back and recorded a good album with little effort, and parts of T.I.
vs. T.I.P. show that he might have briefly considered doing so, but for the
most part, T.I. uses his raw talent and his urge to succeed to catapult his
career to an ever higher status. T.I. and T.I.P. may not have fully resolved
their differences, but they seem to have this music thing pretty down path-
and that deserves respect.