Wednesday, August 1

Movie Star vs the Trap Star

Artist: T.I
Album: T.I vs T.I.P

Comments: This concept album-of-sorts from T.I is one of two things. It is either a bold yet flawed attempt at making an album that showcases the duality of his music, or it is a brilliant think piece that subtly highlights his persona by making sacrifices at the expense of the listener.

The basic idea behind T.I vs T.I.P is that there are two sides to the Atlanta born king of the south. There is T.I, which is his businessman side, and there is T.I.P, which is his hustler side. The album is broken up into three acts, with each half getting seven tracks and four more tracks in the third act where the two sides come together.

Abe Lincoln once said that a house divided could not stand. T.I probably should have brushed up on some history before making this record. There aren’t any terrible tracks on the record, just a lot of inconsistent ones. And that can be chalked up to the confines of the project itself. Because T.I is forcing himself to only speak through one half of his mouth for most of this record, it rarely gets really good.

From the (arguably better) T.I.P side, we have tracks like “Big Things Poppin” and “Da Dopeman” that highlight T.I’s gangster side, his villain side. While neither track can match the grandness or the confidence of anything on King, they still hold up and are just as good as anything else T.I has done. Just not great. Also worth noting in the first act is “Watch What You Say to Me” simply for the dynamite guest verse from Busta Rhymes of all people.

While the first half is not great, it at least sounds meaningful. The same cannot be said for the second, or the T.I act of the record. Seeing as this half of T.I is all about making money hand over fist, they come off with much less conviction. Making money is never as interesting as struggling and fighting for respect. Besides the overlong “Help is Coming” and the comical southern drawl Eminem adopts on “Touchdown”, this section of the CD is skippable.

However, it is the last act of the record that makes me think T.I is brilliant. Here’s my theory. T.I knows his limits and he knows what makes him good. He knows all along that he will only sound half as good when he’s only using half of his personality. But he does it anyway to prove the point. The point being that when he gets both sides working together, he really is one of the best rappers around. These four songs are all much better than anything else on the record, and as good as anything T.I has done, especially the banging “Tell ‘em I Said That”.

So is T.I brilliant? Or did he just make an uneven album based on an idea that would make for a good song but not a good record. That’s for you to decide. T.I vs T.I.P may not be his best work, but it proves that the crown of king of the south is his to lose. And when he puts everything he has into it, no one can touch him. It’s just a shame he doesn’t do it for a whole album.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Key Tracks: Big Things Poppin, Help is Coming, Tell ‘Em I Said That, Respect This Hustle

Worth the Money: I have to go with no.

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