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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

T.I. Vs. T.I.P. Album Review

The melee that ensued between Clifford Harris (T.I.) and Chaka Zulu, Ludacris’ manager, provides an intriguing backdrop for T.I.’s concept album, T.I. vs. T.I.P. It makes you wonder, are there really two different personalities within him or is this some grandiose promo charade. This idea initially manifested itself on Trap Muzik on a track titled “T.I. vs. T.I.P.” but now, we get to see this whole inner conflict unfurl over a whole album.

(Enters T.I.P.)
“Act I (T.I.P.)”
Over Congo-like drums (produced by Kannon “Caviar” Cross), the impatient T.I.P. expresses his frustration with the politics of the music industry and phones up Atlantic Records to put in his resignation. Flow-wise T.I.’s verse is solid but the focus more so seems to play out this character motif.

“Big Shit Poppin’”
“Big Shit” is T.I.’s lead single; a watered down “Top Down.” T.I. introduces T.I.P.’s personality on “Big Shit.” He describes T.I.P.’s traits with “I do it to the maximum/tell ya’ why askin’ them/don’t listen to them suckas when they say you too irrational/I said I was king and them lames started laughin/them same suckas now want the king on a track with them.” T.I. for the rest of the track professes how T.I.P still has that hood mentality (sells squares, squeezing triggers, spending hella money etc.).

On this track, T.I., questions the authenticity of (insert your favorite rapper’s name here) and lets those who are plotting on his throne know “that as long as he’s alive they’ll have to settle for second.” I see even T.I.P. can throw subliminals (possibly at a rapper from the NO, possibly not).

“You Know What It Is”
Wyclef does the production on this one, and provides the exaggerated West Indian accent on the adlibs. The subject content starts becoming repetitive as T.I.P. rhymes about toting guns, spending money and selling dope.

“Da Dopeman”
Here we find T.I.P. late night picking up a dope boy (sounds like Young Jeezy) who’s stranded trying to sell some purp. Because T.I.P tries to convince the d-boy to get out the drug game, said dope boy questions T.I.P.’s credibility as a street pharmacist and the track commences with T.I.P. providing a “Ten Crack Commandments” esque instruction manual for trapping. Although T.I. condemns the lifestyle calling it a “dead end street,” sadly most cats will only remember the glitz and glamour he describes from banking off the pies and cakes.

“Watch What You Say to Me”
Irony is a bitch ain’t it (reference T.I.’s debacle with Chaka Zulu). T.I.P. reminds off us how short his fuse is on this track describing a club scenario where a smart mouth cat catches a Moet bottle to the head for running his mouth recklessly. But let’s not kid ourselves; the real headline of this track is Hova and the conspicuous shots sent at Weezy. Jay rhymes “lock them up in a booth with a half ounce of the cane/and sit back and watch the outlandish shit they portrayin’” and “I hear you baiting me lately/I been doing my best just to stay hater free/but still…watch what you say to me...sooner or later I take you up on your offer/and put you all in your place like I’m replacing your father.” Whoa.

On the first of three Danja’s (ghostproducer for Timbaland) outlandish, but wildly dope, beats T.I.P., Alfamega and Busta Rhymes rhyme about not confusing rap life with real street life basically the same shit that’s been discussed thus far just to a faster tempo and better beat.

(Enters T.I.)
“Act II (T.I.)”
T.I. awakes to the aftermath of the rampage T.I.P. went on and a close friend relates to T.I. what his alter ego said and did.

“Help Is Coming”
T.I. spits about slumping album sales, bootlegging and decreasing market share and how the above won’t affect him. This track is about T.I. saving hip hop. In his last verse, he proclaims he is hip hop with “the fans and the critics think hip hop missin’/here’s a little proof that hip hop livin’/you can hear hip hop talk, now just listen/and see hip hop hang out with 6 bitches/in the Atl, see hip hop chillin’/in a multi-million dollar crib hip hop in him/ you know how many different cars hip hop drivin’/nigga I’m everything hip hop’s missin’.”

“My Swag”
“My Swag” is another Wyclef produced track, but on this track T.I. alters his flow a bit to mesh with the beat. On the track T.I. rhymes about his travels in a “Been Around the World” fashion (word to Puff).

“We Do This”
This is the stock track where T.I. boasts his many material possessions and lavish spending habits. T.I. has made tracks like this before. In fact, he does it on every album.

“Show It to Me”
As if the title doesn’t tell the story here…T.I. spends most of his verse addressing an imaginary contender which is odd because this track is seemingly a track catered to women. With his last couple bars, he tells a chick to back it up while tossing some stacks at her. Longtime collaborator, Nelly graphically describes sexual things he’d do to and with a chick.

“Don’t You Wanna Be High”
On this Runners produced track, T.I. rhymes about falling in love with a suburban chick, going on expensive shopping sprees with said chick and drilling said chick.

“Touchdown” is another major feature; this time with recluse, Eminem. I don’t know why cats still let this guy produce tracks. His beats are weak. Usually Em is good for a dope 16, but he manages to put together a surprisingly forgettable (wack) verse. In the last verse, T.I. outshines the white boy with introspective lines like,

it’s ironic how the shit that we’re rhyming makes us psychotic/threaten corporate America that’s why they runnin’ from us/how could they be so ignorant/look at what hip hop has got us/allowed us to run a business/legitimated our money/got us out of the ghetto and relocated our mommies/I made all the way here/ain’t no way you taking this from me/so excuse me Oprah honey, I’m sorry, really I promise/niggas, bitches, and hoes do exist, I’m just being honest.

(Enters T.I.P. & T.I.)
“Act III (T.I. vs. T.I.P.)
The two battle it out in the mirror and T.I. ends up smashing the mirror, but before T.I.P. exits the building he has one more thing to say.

“Tell Em I Said That”
This is the second Danja track; which turns out to be another impressive sonic and synth infused track. T.I.P. on this track rhymes about how fake rap cats are and even goes into detail about how an imaginary rapper created their image. He tells them “you damn right/these niggas don’t have the rights/to rap about the things I did ev’ry night.”

“Respect This Hustle”
T.I.P. and T.I. argue at the beginning, but the track is about exactly what the title of the track is and how far T.I.P. and T.I. will go to get others to respect their hustle. T.I. also tries to convince T.I.P. to let go of his gutter ways and finally kicks T.I.P. off the album.

“My Type”
“My Type” is the dramatic conclusion and a bid farewell to T.I.P.

I have ambivalent feelings about this album. From a creative point of view, this is an extremely dope album. Most artists have a concept for their album but by track six it turns into a piecemeal amalgamation of bs. On this T.I. follows this split personality motif all the way through to the end and it actually narrates a cohesive story. Both characters have distinct personalities and T.I. even goes as far as to alter his voice when he’s being the easily incensed T.I.P. As an artist who’s went platinum on multiple outings, he didn’t have to take this risk but he had the courage to be creative so on that front, you have to respect and applaud T.I. for putting out T.I.P. vs. T.I. But, on the contrary, neither T.I. nor T.I.P. break any new ground as far as subject content and most of the songs sound similar to songs he’s had on past efforts (i.e. new production but identical subject content). Lyrically, he doesn’t make any progress either but based solely upon the overall presentation—attention to detail, ridiculous production, the biggest features and the drama of the unfolding inner conflict—you have to at least give this album a listen. Bottom line: really good album, not a classic, but damn good.

1 comment:

911 said...

Damn good might be a reach...matter of schematics though...expectations were to high is all. Favorite line - "Nigga you is everything hip hop isn't."