Sneak Peek: T.I.’s Trouble Man Is An Incredible Effort
Nothing like hearing an artist describe their album title as an “eloquent way of saying fuck you to those who deserve it.”
The album is Trouble Man and the artist in question is original trap rap king, T.I. There’s a select group of acts hip-hop’s most critical fans continue to doubt regardless of classics they’ve created, Tip being one of them. The pressure is now on for 2012′s remaining releases to keep up with the remarkable albums enjoyed so far (from “don’t call it a comeback” sets like Nas‘s Life Is Good to Kendrick Lamar‘s just-released debut opus Good Kid, M.a.a.D City) and from what we heard of Trouble Man at last night’s intimate media listening session, Clifford Harris’ legacy remains intact.
The album’s official tracklist is yet to be decided (check out Billboard.com‘s review for more information on that) but here’s hoping the tracks played to us by Kawan “KP” Prathers (the A&R who signed Tip to Arista Records all those years ago and is back working with him as Atlantic Records senior staff) make the final cut. Tip explains Trouble Man as “an attempt to take vintage T.I. (like I’m Serious) and blend it with the new sound of more mainstream, commercially accepted music (like Paper Trail).” From the music we heard, there’s no better description.
As he sipped on a beverage in the main studio room, the charming Family Hustle star was relaxed, confident and ready for the reactions to his latest work. Tip’s penchant for sprinkling his sentences with “upper echelon” and endless fancy pants terminology is renown; the joy in it matched only by his delight in seeing others’ reaction to such grandiose vocabulary. Working the crowd with entertaining one-liners like “Everybody has faults! Mine may be legal and yours may be moral,” he described why even though this is the most peaceful he’s been in 32 years, he’ll forever live up to his new moniker.
The album’s “Intro” is guaranteed, the classic Marvin Gaye song of the album’s title sampled throughout (“failure ain’t in the plan,” Tip raps). Tentatively titled “Somebody” is the Gotye-inspired track featuring a very personal verse from Grand Hustle star B.o.B (somewhat reminiscent of Scarface‘s classic lines on “This Can’t Be Life”) and Kendrick Lamar going in on a certain kind of female (“Your cell phone is selfish/You only get numbers that go with a Hummer”). DJ Toomp delivers trademark street cuts like “Trap Back Jumpin” and “Who Want Some,” balanced with smoother efforts like No I.D.’s “Wild Side” featuring A$AP Rocky. The album’s title track featuring R. Kelly (“could you learn to love a trouble man,” Kelly croons) has Tip practically admitting he enjoys the bumpy ride: “The danger’s so exciting,” he gleefully acknowledges.
Former labelmate P!nk finally joins him on wax with “Guns & Roses,” a monster hit produced by T-Minus about a romance doomed from the start. Andre 3000 shows up on “Sorry” with a verse described by Tip as “lightning in a bottle” and clearly proud of the Jazze Pha-produced collaboration, he says it’s “a special record ’cause it’s a collaboration that took so long to get done” (six years, to be exact). Throw in another T-Minus banger called “Address” (“some eloquent ignorance, some gangsta shit”) and the Pharrell Williams-orchestrated “Hello” featuring Cee-Lo, not to mention current single “Ball” with Lil Wayne plus an emotional record called “This Wonderful Life,” where Tip takes on the voice of his deceased father and fallen partner Philant Johnson.
T.I. fans, breathe easy. Trouble Man (released on December 18) is proof that once it’s inside you, the hunger for more never leaves.
Images: Grayson Dantzic