Review : T.I. - No Mercy
PitchforkOriginally, No Mercy was going to be called King Uncaged. Its cover was going to feature T.I., in front of a stark white background, sunk deep into a wicker throne, a lion standing by his side. King Uncaged, an album we'll now presumably never hear, was to be Tip's first after he completed almost a year in prison, finishing up a gun sentence that could've sent him away for a whole lot longer. This was supposed to be the final triumphant chapter in Tip's redemption story, and everybody loves shit like that. Instead, life intervened. A Los Angeles traffic stop led to a drug arrest and a parole violation, and now T.I. is headed right back to prison for another 11 months. So No Mercy is a confused muddle, some of the material presumably recorded before the arrest and some of it after. It's called No Mercy presumably because King Recaged wasn't catchy enough, and the album cover seems to be T.I. either wiping away a tear or punching himself in the face. Given how the album turned out, the face-punch is exactly the right gesture.
T.I. sounds best when he's in dominant form, tossing punchlines at inferior rappers from a great height. His best tracks come with a sense of inevitability; you know, from the first moment you hear them, that they're going to boom out of passing cars for months to come. "What You Know" worked like that. "Rubber Band Man" worked like that. Even "Whatever You Like" worked like that. Absolutely nothing on No Mercy works like that. Simply put, introspection does not work for T.I. At this point, he has nothing thought-provoking left to say about his gun arrest or its aftermath, and it's no fun whatsoever to hear him say "I'm only human" or "Apologies to the fans" for the millionth time. But No Mercy is his third straight album of halfassed introspection. The things that were boring or simplistic about his forced humility have only gotten worse. On No Mercy, he sounds absolutely sapped of energy. And that's rough; nobody plays the ferocious livewire better....full text
CulturebullyThe year leading up to the release of T.I.‘s new album No Mercy has been nothing if not eventful. Eventful and well documented. After being released from prison, the drop on King Uncaged was set to come at any moment… and his fans stood by him and waited. In the meantime he released a collection of hurried new material with the Fuck a Mixtape mixtape (which was apparently so fucking good that Pitchfork fucking called it “an hour of T.I. sounding cool as fuck”). And fans waited. Then he released some music videos celebrating turning a corner with his life and getting back into the game. And fans waited. Then T.I. and his wife were arrested on drugs charges. And still, his fans waited. Then the long-unreleased album was given a new title, and T.I. was sent back to prison. Now, as the artist closes out the year just as he rang it in (caged in lock-down), fans continue to support him as the long awaited new material is finally unveiled. And a quick glance at the CD proves that like his fans, many of T.I.’s friends also stuck it out with the beleaguered artist all along the way.
A rundown of the credits yields a veritable who’s who of hip hop and pop stars: Kanye West & Kid Cudi open No Mercy with a dark anthem explaining the perils of celebrity; Scarface joins in to reveal the uphill battle that is leaving your past behind; Chris Brown attempts to add a voice of inspiration in the face of defeat… and from there Eminem, Drake, the Dream, Pharrell and the Neptunes, Trey Songz, Jake One and Christina Aguilera all chime in as well. No surprise then that all of this energy and support translates into some seriously enthusiastic music that largely paints a picture of celebration and excess on par with the level of celebrity gathered behind it.
Drake parties alongside the MC in “Poppin’ Bottles,” Young Dro joins Trey Songz in “Strip,” and while the clothes are off, T.I. encourages the ladies to “lift that ass up” in the saxophone-heavy banger “Everything on Me.” “Amazing” stands as the lone track on the album that fails to deliver musically; the song’s explicitly foul lyrics do little to enhance the laughable hook, “Whatcha gonn’ do, make your face fall off?” Think the viral hit “Pants on the Ground” as produced by the Neptunes and you’ve got “Amazing.” As guests come and go and the mood and sound continually shift, there remains one recurring theme that runs throughout No Mercy however: T.I.’s search for self and his conclusions on how he feels society has treated him....full text
Rapas true as this review is, it breaks my heart that my once-favorite rapper has fallen so hard. It seems he has lost favor with the public (which is understandable) and he is making just plain bad music. I saw this coming, though. I just wasn’t sure how bad the album would be....full text
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