Review Summary: The King back.
Let’s take it back to 2003 for a minute, back to when T.I. released Trap Muzik
and effectively began his reign over the South. Just moments before officially proclaiming himself king, the Atlanta upstart introduced listeners to the two somewhat inconsonant personas that comprised young Cliff Harris on the track “T.I. vs. T.I.P.”: T.I. and T.I.P. T.I. represented the slick talking, level-headed businessman while T.I.P. was the cocksure hood cat, a streetwise product of his environment pushing product to his environment from the traphouse. Never apprehensive and always ready to bring that action to any doorstep if need be, T.I.P.'s involvement in Harris' takeover dwindled over the years as his pride and short fuse landed Harris a litany of legal issues which put his ridiculous resume on hold and threatened to extinguish Tip's career. The seemingly unstoppable momentum met the truly immovable cell, and he all but lost his steam; following his prison stints Tip got caught up in chasing hits like the fiends he once handled but never quite found that former glory.
Okay, we're back. After years of meager success it seems T.I. may finally be about the art again; Da' Nic
, the second installment of his tripartite Paperwork
series, comes with a name change from T.I. to Tip (as a knowing nod to fans, foreshadowing a resurgence of ol' T.I.P. from back in the day) and finds Tip bringing the music back to his roots once again to tease upcoming The Dime Trap
. The short five song (Nic[kle]) EP opens with "Broadcast Live" - arguably Harris' best song since 2012 - a vehement mission statement for the next step in his illustrious career, with as catchy a hook as Tip was penning back in the early aughts. "Peanut Butter Jelly" continues Tip and Young Thug's streak of fire emojis with a gorgeous piano-driven London on da Track beat and florid flows across the board, and "Project Steps," once the lead single for The Dime Trap
, finds Tip menacing over a sinister, sparse beat a la Trap Muzik
. On the whole, Da' Nic
is a nice return to form for the King, a piquant sampler and solid aperitive for The Dime Trap
, featuring great beats and strong hooks, with only a few missteps. The rapping, for one, could be better; Tip's never been the greatest lyricist, but he's had moments of sheer brilliance ("I'm Illy", "Dead and Gone", "I'm Illy", "Swagga Like Us", "56 Bars" into "I'm Illy" to name a few, and that's just from one album) and most of the verses here, from a lyrical standpoint, are essentially phoned in. "Ain't Gonna See It Coming" is probably the biggest offender, as it doesn't have a hook/bridge/anything to break up the lyrical oblivion and is completely reliant on its flashy flows to make it to the end. But the only other real complaint is that trap Tip is almost unrecognizable without trunk knockers from accomplice DJ Toomp, the man responsible for some of Tip's biggest hits. Hopefully though, he's got some Toomp production on deck for The Dime Trap
, which, perhaps optimistically, should be Tip's best album in nearly a decade. Da' Nic
could be the kickoff for a glorious twilight of Tip's decorated career, but bold predictions aside, it's a solid-ass little EP, and absolutely worth checking out.