T.I. is getting well past his prime in the world of rap, and rap isn’t known as a genre that allows its artist to age well. Rockers are given a chance to age gracefully and linger in the industry for some time. I mean, just look at the Rolling Stones. But rap and hip-hop tend to stay focused on the youthful issues that it becomes hard for the older generation to keep up. In his latest album, Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head, T.I. wisely sticks to rapping about what he knows and addressing the changes he’s made in his own personal life. Well…sort of.
One of the most interesting choices on Trouble Man is T.I.’s inclusion of scripted conversations to open up the songs Wildside and Can You Learn?. Both songs feature a dramatization of T.I.’s previous arrests and examines the cost of his criminal actions, similar to the Marvin Gaye album from Trouble Man gets its name..
T.I. even explores faith in the final song Hallelujah, which is definitely an interesting way to end T.I.’s explicit album. Guns and Roses, featuring Pink, and Can You Learn? take a look at the relationships, familial and romantic. But while these songs show a different T.I. than the man who was arrested for trying to purchase illegal firearms from a federal agent, a man that is repentant of his actions, the other songs on the album tell a much different story.
Trap Back Jumpin contradicts the message T.I. has been sending by harking back to a life of slinging drugs and Who Wants Some seems to abandon the idea of repenting from his criminal past and boasting about his indiscretions instead. Musically, T.I. doesn’t deviate from his typical style in the slightest, even keeping the same, repetitive beat that he has always had. Cruisin was a regrettable inclusion , as the only rhyme that stands out is “bikini” and “Lamborghini”.
I don’t hate the album, but I don’t love it. However, it does leave me wondering: who is the real T.I.?