Sunday, June 24, 2007

Review: T.I. - T.I. vs T.I.P.

Track-by-track review of T.I.'s 2007 release 'T.I. vs T.I.P.'

1. Act I (T.I.P.) - As I always say, an appropriate intro track is an excellent way to kick off an album (I'm not a big fan of hip-hop albums beginning with a full song, particularly a single). This one's pretty good and seems fitting for the rest of the album. The track discusses the tactics of the music industry and the difficulties artists are put through. Highlight of the track: a trash-talking Lyor Cohen impersonato. 3.5/5

2. Big Shit Poppin'
- It's got the same swagger and swing present in previous bangers like 'What You Know' and 'U Don't Know', yet lacks the same energy. Unlike his previous neck-breakers, this one's more of a laid-back head-bopper. 3/5

3. Raw
- Produced by Lil' C (a fellow 19-year-old) a Grand Hustle member/beat maker, this track features both decent board-skills and lyrical delivery. Still though, the beat doesn't really seem to accompany T.I.'s flow and style too well. 2.5/5

4. You Know What It Is
(featuring Wyclef Jean) - Another head-bopper featuring the Caribbean influence(s) of emcee and producer Wyclef Jean, this smart single choice is pretty hot. Another non-typical T.I. track though, this one might alienate the crunksters. 3.5/5

5. Da Dopeman
- This one samples N.W.A.'s 'Dopeman (Remix)' in which Ice Cube spits: "From a ki' to a G, it's all about money." Featuring production by Mannie Fresh, this one's got the Southern fried touch we've been waiting for with a moderately reflective feel and perspective. While this one's a single-worthy track, it's still lacks the amped up feel of previous T.I. hits. 5 tracks down and no bangers... 3.5/5

6. Watch What You Say to Me (featuring Jay-Z)
- Everything goes wrong for T.I. on this one. For starters, his overly-shoddy chorus is infuriatingly annoying "betta wha whuh chu seh ta meh..." If that wasn't bad enough, his two verses are dwarfed by Jay-Z middle verse presence. While Hov's verse is nearly-perfect (receiving a 4.5/5 from me) with plenty of subliminal dissage to be analyzed and dissected. T.I.P.'s inability to hold his own on this track further brings down it's rating as it would have at least been a decent 2.5 or 3 star track without Jay's verse. 2/5

7. Hurt (featuring Alfa Mega & Busta Rhymes)
- Produced by Timbo's ghost-producer Danja, this drum-heavy beat definitely knocks! With a (finally) energetic flow, T.I. rides the beat well. The verses provided by Alfa Mega (who?) and Bussa Buss (hype-man emcee extraordinaire) compliment the feel of the track. This one's definitely single-worthy. 4/5

8. Act II (T.I.)
- A parallel to Act I (track 1), this song speaks from the perspective of T.I., the hungry up-and-coming emcee. While the rest of the album doesn't seem to share anything in common with this 'opposing forces'/'two sides of a story' theme, it's still an interesting attempt. 3.5/5

9. Help is Coming
- I'll admit: at first this Just Blaze production made me raise my eyebrows in confusion as if to say: "WTF is Justin doing?" A futuristic, synth-heavy track, this one didn't seem too appealing to me, especially since I didn't feel Tip would sound good on it. Giving it a few extra spins, I kinda got it. For one, it picks up on the lack of energy on the first half of the album. T.I. flows viciously with rhymes full of braggadocio and swag. 3.5/5

10. My Swag (featuring Wyclef Jean)
- Another Wyclef track, this one's kinda got an 80's feel (Toto comes to mind) as I can imagine Tony Montana and Manolo bumpin' this one in their convertible. While it's a pretty catchy track, it's nothing ground-breaking. 3.5/5

11. We Do This
- Now I love The Runners, but WTF is this? I'm not feeling this one at all! The urgency in the beat is felt on the chorus, but not on the verses: weak (not to mention T.I.'s lyrics). 2/5

12. Show It To Me (featuring Nelly)
- Now this is what I'm talking about! A certified club-banger (give it a month or two), this one's kind of like a slowed down clone to Jigga's "Show Me What You Got" (even has a similar title...go figure). The horns sound great (reminding me a bit of Big Boi's "I Like the Way You Move") as T.I. & Nelly drop that typical pimp-talk. 4/5

13. Don't You Wanna Be High
- Okay, The Runners redeem themselves on this soulful magic-carpet-ride of a track. Another possible club track, T.I. spits with sincerity and swagger over pleasant horns, claps and a smooth bass line. A great track! 4/5

14. Touchdown (featuring Eminem)
- Just when you thought Marshall Mathers' bland streak of post-'Eminem Show' tracks would start slowing down comes this one... Now I know Eminem is originally from Missouri. Still, it doesn't warrant this pseudo-Southern drawl. Even T.I. kinda overdoes it as well. In all sincerity, both Em & Tip sound like they're sedated on this one. 1.5/5

15. Act III (T.I. vs T.I.P.)
- T.I.P. confronts T.I. (aka Mr. Hollywood) on this final act. While I could appreciate the previous two acts in which each side was represented, this one has a different effect. On Act III, T.I.P. & T.I. go back and forth insulting each other. So basically what we've got here is a diss track: a self-diss track. T.I.P. proceeds to call his opponent a "fake-ass-n***a" while T.I. responds with "I'm done talking with you man...fuck it." As a listener, I'm thinking: "who should I be rooting for?" 2/5

16. Tell 'Em I Said That
- Danja's muffled drums and frenzied details make their return on this track as T.I. rips haters and suckers. "You n****s ain't n****s ain't n****s ain't n****s ain't n****s ain't sh*t." The typical "I made it, so now my homies ain't sh*t" track, this one has an interesting effect as once again, he's dissing himself. Maybe I'm mistaken, but it comes off as if T.I. is shunning his upbringing and where he comes from on this track. Now who's the "n***a" that "ain't true"? 3/5

17. Respect This Hustle
- The title speaks for itself: just another stereotypical track. Unfrotunately, it's not a "good" stereotypical track as the chorus consists of T.I. chanting "R.E.S.P.E.C.T." Odds are, Aretha Franklin is out there somewhere calling her lawyer. 2.5/5

18. My Type
- Another stereotypical rap track often found at the ends of albums. This one consists of such topics as: "I'm the last of a dying breed...", "I sacrificed for...", "If I die tonight..." (cough, Tupac, cough), "Just remember me...", "Reminiscing about dead homies...", "Momma...". T.I.'s most heartfelt track, this closes out the album well (enough). 3.5/5

All in all, this has to be T.I.'s worst album to date. With no hype-making single out (yet at least), this one will almost certainly fail to rise above previous albums Urban Legend or KING. With that being said, I better not hear any whining from Tip come next year when he doesn't win the Grammy for Best Rap Album....

Top Tracks:
Don't You Wanna Be High


Show It To Me


- Ivan