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T.I., ‘Trouble Man: Heavy Is the Head’ – Album Review

T.I. Trouble Man
Atlantic

T.I.certainly has lived a troubled life. On his eighth LP ‘Trouble Man: Heavy Is the Head,’ his first album since being released last year from federal prison following a probation violation, the veteran rhyme-slinger lays bare his troubled past and turns to music for salivation.

Inspired by Marvin Gaye’s classic 1972 album ‘Trouble Man,’ the 16-track collection details Tip’s struggles of avoiding the missteps that led him to several stints of incarceration. Songs like the standout ‘Can You Learn’ (Featuring R. Kelly), ‘Wonderful Life’ (Featuring Akon) and the album closer ‘Hallelujah’ all deal with T.I.’s failures and triumphants without being mired in self-pity.

But the Atlanta rapper hasn’t forgotten about the streets. Tracks like ‘G Season’ (Featuring Meek Mill), ‘Wildside’ (Featuring A$AP Rocky) and ‘Who Want Some’ should satisfy his fans yearning to hear T.I. spit those hardcore ‘Trap Muzik’-era rhymes. There’s even an impressive hip-pop song called ‘Gun and Roses’ (Featuring Pink) that could do well on mainstream radio.

‘Trouble Man’ has a few godawful songs, but for the part, it’s a solid listen. T.I. is back in rare form and it won’t be long before he reigns the hip-hop throne like he did a few years ago before his run-ins with the law.

Listen to T.I.’s ‘Trouble Man: Heavy Is the Head’ in its entirety here.

1. The Introduction
A rollicking anthem, which samples the Marvin Gaye’s song ‘Trouble Man,’ with T.I. vowing to stay on his grind despite his past troubles with the law. “Trouble ain’t change me / Role model ain’t me / Don’t be angry now if I’m on the same street and I make a U-turn,” he raps.

2. ‘G Season’ Feat. Meek Mill
On this bombastic track, T.I. insists that he’s not unfazed by his past prison stint, the gossip hounds and anything else that’s not relevant to him. “Prison ain’t change me / All it did was made a n—a crazy, deranged see,” he raps, adding, ‘Psycho, nuts… All I know now is to get out and go for the gusto.” Philly spitfire Meek Mill adds some more grit to this brash song.

3. ‘Trap Back Jumpin”
A haunting track featuring the King of the South rapping about getting back on his grind and reclaiming the rap throne. Plenty of drug metaphors on here as Tip compares the rap game to the trap game. [Listen Here]

4. ‘Wildside’ Feat. A$AP Rocky
T.I. teams up with in-demand rapper A$AP Rocky on to reflect on his criminal past as a street hustler. Rocky, who is also a reformed hustler, spits about the darkside of the Harlem streets. “From the land of the lead where they spit chrome / Where most kids never get to live long / Get their pistols, get pissed on / Pistol-whipped and stripped, homie,” he raps.

5. ‘Ball’ Feat. Lil Wayne
The requisite club banger featuring Weezy F. Baby. Ball till they fall! [Watch the Video]

6. ‘Sorry’ Feat. Andre 3000
A standout track on the album mostly because of Three Stacks’ apologetic verse to Big Boi for their strained relationship. Meanwhile, T.I. remains unapologetic about some of his past mistakes. “Bullheaded and stubborn I be that way until I die / But find a n—a with more hustle then me I dare you to try,” he raps. [Listen Here]

7. ‘Can You Learn’ Feat. R. Kelly
T.I. re-creates the October 2007 incident in which he was arrested by federal agents on gun charges just hours before the BET Awards. The Atlanta offers his explanation on why he’s continued to be dogged by legal problems. R. Kelly brings his soulful pipes on this fantastic confessional track. We give this song two big thumbs up.

8. ‘Go Get It’
T.I.’s get-money anthem in which he repeatedly raps his mantra, “The grind won’t stop / Hustle won’t quit.” [Watch the Video]

9. Guns and Roses Feat. Pink
‘Guns and Roses’ is the poppiest song on the album, which features the soulful pipes of Pink on the yearning chorus. On the T-Minus-produced track, T.I. paints a vivid picture of a tumultuous relationship that has reached it’s boiling point. “Sometimes I want some peace of mind and she don’t shut up / Love her to death / Don’t know whether to kiss her or kill her,” he raps. [Listen Here]

10. ‘The Way We Ride’
Producer Hit-Boy gives T.I. a G-Funk-inspired song that tailor-made for car cruising on a hot summer day.

11. ‘Cruisin”
The first misstep on the album as T.I. warbles love metaphors through Auto-Tune about a cute shorty who catches his eye. Tip’s singing abilities are nonexistent. Hopefully, he won’t try this again.

12. ‘Addresses’
This is another skippable track with T.I. spitting tough talk to nagging haters. Pushing the fast-forward button.

13. ‘Hello’ Feat. Cee Lo Green
On this laid-back song, T.I. is driving in the fast lane and waving to the haters as he passes them by. Green is in the passengers’ seat and he advises Tip to “Push that peddle to the max / Count the money in your lap / And put jealousy in your rearview.” [Listen Here]

14. ‘Who Want Some’
Another braggadocios track with Tip spitting cautionary lyrics to anyone who dares to step to him. Despite being on probation, it seems the Atlanta rapper is still strapped and not afraid to do another bid. This is not the type of song you want to have on an album — especially if the feds are listening.

15. ‘Wonderful Life’ Feat. Akon
On this melancholy ballad, T.I. talks to his late friend Philant Johnson (who was shot and killed in 2006) and deceased father to tell them how their deaths have affected his life. Akon re-flips Elton John‘s ‘Your Song’ into elegiac verse. Another standout track on the album.

16. ‘Hallelujah’
T.I. reworks Leonard Cohen’s 1984 classic tune of the same name into a stirring orchestral rap song. T.I.’s spits navel-gazing ruminations about his time in prison and how it affected his family and wealth. “I went to jail, stood tall, then I fell again / It seems like I’m Jonah and right back in that whale again / I felt the panic when they locked me in that cell again / I had to pray and meditate, control my breath again,” he raps. We think Keri Hilson is singing the the overwrought “Hallelujah” chorus.


 

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