T.I., Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head

Christina Lee

By Christina Lee

on 12.27.12 in Reviews

Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head


No Mercy, T.I.’s last studio album, was a pop-star-studded affair, a far cry from the rapper’s earlier Rubber Band Man Days. On his recent mixtape Fuck Da City Up, however, he stomped and sneered like vintage T.I.P. amid 808s of Rick Rossian proportions. His eighth album Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head, splits the difference: T.I. reverts to a familiar narrative of inner turmoil about his trap rap reign, but with a distinctly somber tone: “In my city that’s the way we ride,” he broods, as if recalling harder times before “What U Kno.”

Reverting to a familiar narrative, but with a distinctly somber tone

True to post-King, Chelsea Handler-guest form, Tip can’t help but boast of his VH1 reality show. He brushes off critics in “Sorry” (featuring a Capitol One-quoting “What’s in your wallet?” crack) as much as he does in the cruising “Hello” (“Showing haters the taillights of my two-seaters”). But as Heavy ends, T.I. stops skirting past his high-profile shortcomings. In grandiose closer “Hallelujah,” he recalls how much he missed his wife during his most recent prison sentence: “I reach out for Tameka’s hand/ I’m trippin’ because she missing.”

Heavy‘s best parts, though, are more about recalibration than atonement. DJ Toomp, who helped launch T.I> into the stratosphere on “What U Kno,” dials back his signature triumphal fanfare for “Who Wants Some,” and in “Trap Back Jumpin’,” T.I.’s staccato verses prove that he can navigate I’m Serious territory like it’s his childhood home. One of Tip’s verses on “G Season” may as well be a thesis statement: “It might sound wild, but it’s all I know.”