Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

TI – I’m Back

No real theme today, but never mind…


Jonathan Bogart: Doesn’t feel like he went away, but damn.

Alfred Soto: T.I.’s pronunciation of “overall” reminds me of why I missed him. This track works on that level: a reintroduction, not a single.

Al Shipley: Paper Trail‘s singsong raps and R&B hooks may have brought him his biggest sales to date, but T.I. is one of the few current hip hop stars who actually joined the platinum club almost entirely on the strength of nasty no-nonsense rap anthems like this. So it’s fun to hear him back at what he does best, even if it’s not up there with “U Don’t Know Me,” and it’s entirely possible, likely even, that a sequel to “Whatever You Like” is lurking right around the corner.

John Seroff: It’s an easy cliche, but prison sounds like it made T.I. downright hungry again. His glib Godfadda dismissal of the new jerk generation culminates with a damningly faint dis of “disappointed” and he backs that shit up with some beautifully metered and clever lines (“What’s a molotov cocktail that ain’t never break the glass?”). “I’m Back” sounds like the T.I. of the King-era; I hope that guy sticks around.

Alex Ostroff: T.I. goes harder and sounds hungrier than he has since the pre-Paper Trail days and it’s a pleasure to hear him do so, but the verses don’t jump out at me, and the hook fails to lodge itself into my consciousness. A third-generation ‘What You Know’ is guaranteed to be good, but it’s never going to be great.

Spencer Ackerman: More raw than recent T.I., but I suppose we have to view ‘Paper Trail’ as a public-relations campaign to work the jury from outside the courtroom (as Jay did with “not guilty, y’all got to feel me”… before pleading guilty). Flow as good as ever, voice too.

Matt Cibula: I’ve called him the best living American songwriter, and this is just like a left-hand exercise for him, laid-back as one can be when threatening murder and arson in every other line. It’s no “What You Know,” but nothing ever is.

Martin Skidmore: He sways along as pleasantly as ever, but actually it’s the backing I particularly like, the TrackSlayerz providing a sinister power that reminds me a bit of the RZA, in parts. A strong return.

Michaelangelo Matos: I’ve never been that big a fan, and the big operatic synths don’t do a thing for me, but he’s so convincing I accept them, and let’s face it, they evoke “quarter-million-dollar cars everywhere I go” via “I’m no longer being callous/I’m-a let you niggas have it” as aptly as anything else. Given all that ostentation (not to mention the jailhouse boasts), I’m kind of tickled that one of the production touches simulates a Bronx cheer.

Renato Pagnani: T.I. snarls, grits his teeth, and growls his way through one of his best track-length performances in a long time. The beat is a good attempt at recreating the sort of track that Tip does his best work on, but the synthetic strings are cheap-sounding and bring things down a few notches whenever they pop up. If this was a Jeezy track those fake strings would at least sound scary — here they sound like they’re suffering from a case of bad gas at worst.

Jonathan Bradley: The law has little understanding of the nuanced distinction between an artistic persona and the citizen behind it, particularly when the private citizen gets caught with the arsenal of which his artistic persona boasts, so who could blame Tip Harris for his logical contortions on Paper Trail? That doesn’t mean it made for enjoyable music when T.I. tried to elucidate in song the ways he really needed those guns, even though he was wrong to buy them, even though he really needed them. You could almost hear a voice intoning “this recording was court-approved,” like some judicial version of a DJ Drama tag. How welcome it is, then, to again hear Southern trap talk like, “You ain’t got a pimp bone in your body I can tell/You ain’t never bought a ki or caught a body.” So if “I’m Back” sounds like a grimy, pugnacious T.I. album track from back in the day when dude could credibly claim to be King of the South, then what it does it really matter that it doesn’t sound like a single, street or radio? Not when the state of hip-hop’s Dixie elite is, as Harris puts it: “Wayne, Gucci Mane, me, and Boosie all gone to prison.” At such times, business as usual is a relief.

7 Responses to “TI – I’m Back”

  1. you aint never bought a ki…a sedona?

  2. this track bangs, love it, and T.I. can still call me.

  3. Really like J-Brad’s blurb–nails my problems with [i]Paper Trail[/i] in general, though I think I might rate the song a point higher than he does, and pretty satisfied with the overall score.

    A lot of Chicago Top 40/rap/r&b stations are playing this, “How Low,” “Bemmer, Benz & Bentley,” and the new Rick Ross/Ne-Yo song in succession, and it’s the best radio has sounded in at least three years.

  4. sorry, “Beemer, Benz & Bentley.”

  5. Very good track. The Trackslayerz prodution is indeed a little bit weak, but they’re starting it, so I think it’s safe to call it a good start. Drumma Boy is lined up to produce the album, so I expect a more well-developed sound all around. DJ Toomp also.

    As for the lyrcs and delivery … On point.

  6. “Beemer, Benz & Bentley.”


    Beamer, no ? Anyways, we got you on Bemmer.

  7. The Rick Ross/Ne-Yo song is called “Super High.” Not sure when it’s coming out in the UK, but it’s been booming out of cars all over the place here.

    And yes, it’s “Beamer, Benz OR Bentley.”