T.I. T.I. vs T.I.P.

T.I. T.I. vs T.I.P.
Last year, T.I. rose to a new level of notoriety. His fourth album, King, won a Grammy and was 2006’s best-selling hip-hop album, he made his impressive acting debut in ATL and of course, he narrowly skipped out on another prison sentence. But none of that prevented him from continuing his prolific streak. T.I. vs T.I.P. marks both Clifford Joseph Harris’s fifth album in six years and his first foray into the world of the ever-tricky concept album. The concept? "It’s basically a battle within myself,” he’s said, reverting back to a cut of the same name from 2003’s Trap Muzik. It’s a battle that sees T.I.P. the thug pitted against T.I. the rap superstar. In the same vein as Michael Mann’s Heat, the two stars don’t collide until the album’s final act on the last three tracks. Prior to that, T.I.P. takes the first act and T.I. the second. The first problem with the album is it’s unbalanced; his dangerous self outweighs his dirty rich self, not just because T.I.P. gets all the bangers in his half (the Wyclef-assisted "You Know What It Is” stands out for its pomposity) but because the street will always win out against the green when it comes to thematic importance (though "Da Dopeman” challenges this theory). T.I. may get Nelly for "Show It To Me” but the combination of these two skilled hook droppers disappoints, as does Eminem’s turn on "Touchdown,” which suggests he’s lost his edge to retirement. When his personas do confront each other the album reaches a high for an interesting showdown, which is best exemplified on "Respect This Hustle,” proving that this vanity project has some merit. Make no mistake though, this ain’t King. (Grand Hustle)