Review Summary: When the title track of the rap album that's taking a 'more aggressive' direction features The-Dream, you know it's destined to be a failed effort.
Hop in your ride, pop T.I.’s 2003 album Trap Muzik
into the CD player, press the play button and within a few seconds you’ll hear T.I. say “This a trap. This ain’t no album this ain’t no game. This a trap.” Log onto The Pirate Bay, torrent T.I.’s newest album No Mercy
, drag the folder into iTunes and in a few seconds you’ll hear T.I. say “Hey ‘Ye, why don’t you let me welcome these n*ggas to the world they ain’t been welcomed to yet?” On the former track, we find T.I. grittily settling down into his southern dope boy niche with Pimp Squad Click patna Mac Boney. On the latter track, we find T.I. imitating new Kanye West and KiD CuDi, ironically, alongside Kanye West and KiD CuDi. “Welcome To The World” signifies not only the ensuing continuance of rapper confessional albums in 2010, but just how sonically mimicking No Mercy
Before a single sound is even heard, T.I. has already doomed the album. Before its release, T.I. had stated that he would “refrain from gun talk on the album” and that it would be the “most significant return from incarceration that the game has had since All Eyez On Me
”. Firstly, T.I.’s bread and butter has always been chopper chatter, and secondly, All Eyez On Me
was a generally mixed album. But this is less of a hot-and-cold album that’s peppered with mega hits than a consistently sappy, come-to-Jesus confessional, and T.I. just isn’t equipped to do it. He’s not armed with the angst and technicality of Eminem, or the emotionality and relatability of KiD CuDi, or the lyricism and intelligence of Kanye West. All he has is his swaggering delivery, hustler background and the boatload of firearms he purchased illegally. So when he pours his heart out and admits he’s not perfect, reminisces over all the sleepless nights, apologizes for being a poor role model, regrets all the mistakes he’s made, somberly muses about the emptiness of fame and riches, expresses remorse for all the people he’s hurt, recants the harsh words he’s uttered during rap feuds, displays the resilience to get back up after falling…
Am I really supposed to give a f*ck? Hell no. I want to hear T.I. rap about drugs, cars, money, and hot women over gothic synths, clapping drums, and a booming bassline. I could care less about how his nightmares haunt him, but when you add a beat that sounds like it’s straight out of a Hot Topic store (the title track featuring The-Dream), you’ve just got me facepalming.
Don’t get me wrong: I hold the utmost respect for what T.I. has done here. He’s projected himself in an emotionally fragile and destitute state. It’s honest, something most rappers are seemingly incapable of being. But seriously, T.I.? Can’t you just rap about coolly and coldly murdering a hater? Deem my tastes trivial if you want, but it plays to T.I.’s strengths. Rubber Band Man has always had a penchant for egotistical pedantry prone to violent tangents and musings on narcotic distributions.
But the production comprises almost everything remotely good T.I. does here. As executive producer of No Mercy
, T.I. should be publicly stoned to death. It seems he makes every last effort to overproduce everything and sees to it that almost every successful mainstream pop and rap act is imitated. “How Life Changed” eerily recalls something off of Gorillaz’ Plastic Beach
“Amazing” is just The Neptunes’ rendition of “Teach Me How To Dougie” by Cali Swag District. “Lay Me Down” produced by the hack that is Jim Jonsin is Missy Elliott’s “Lose Control” all over again. Hell, “That’s All She Wrote” might just well be a track scrapped from Recovery
. And “Poppin’ Bottles” is typical time-of-our-lives radio fodder. Moreover, contemporary R&B and pop vocalists are spread out across the board. Trey Songz? The-Dream? Chris Brown? Christina Aguilera? Come on.
Ultimately, No Mercy
is only significant in the fact that it ushers in the industrialization of an urban legend, and T.I, and when it's all said and done, No Mercy
finds itself sandwiched between Paper Trail
and TI vs. TIP
. Really, it's the telltale sign that we'll never have another Trap Muzik
again. It looks like T.I. has finally been overwhelmed by TIP.