T.I.’s latest ,’King,’ goes for the throne, falls short of expectations

Dave Yochum


Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Clifford “T.I.” Harris is aiming to leap above hip-hop royalty.

Following up 2004’s Urban Legend, T.I. released his new album, King, amid intense buzz. Radio DJs were betting money on a platinum first week. Web sites had reviewers suggesting an instant classic.

King shows potential – it boasts star power (Young Buck, Young Jeezy, Pharrell, Common) and top-notch production (Kanye West, Swizz Beatz, Mannie Fresh). But like a 2.0 student on his fourth keg stand, King proves T.I. hasn’t fulfilled his potential yet.

The album starts off with “King Back,” a Just Blaze beat that tackles Ferraris, Atlanta, and T.I.’s hustling skills. The song properly acquaints listeners (on a fourth album nonetheless) with the “rubber-band” man, but the joint is a precursor to an unimaginative record.

Tracks like “Front Back,” “Stand Up Guy” and “You Know Who” all hit listeners with the same royal message – T.I. has street credibility, money, girls and rims. Those are all wonderful, but they won’t get him any accolades.

King also highlights TI’s repetitive nature. He has a distinct, “Cam’ron of the South” flavor, but he hasn’t matured lyrically to where he can touch a variety of issues. If it weren’t for strong guest appearances and a sleeper hit called “Top Back,” King might be even be a step back from Urban Legend.

Pharrell and Common save King by jumping on the track “Goodlife,” providing some fresh voices deep in the album. But without “Goodlife” and “Hello,” a warm love track, King fails to satisfy any lyrical-diversity requirement. In T.I.’s defense, though, spring-breakers didn’t care about his lyrical diversity last week, as his club strength went unrivaled.



Released on Grand Hustle/Atlantic

Stater rating (out of five): ???1/2

King‘s hit single, the low, bass-heavy “What You Know,” brought together all demographics in Pittsburgh-area dance clubs. While the real thugs hesitated stepping to 50 Cent, they were jumping to T.I. – along with preppy kids, punks and party girls. Still, hits like “What You Know” won’t sit T.I. on the same throne as Nas, Jay-Z or Notorious BIG.

A few years away from being a hip-hop force, TI remains strong enough to impact the industry. His Giovanni’s on Pirelli’s have brought him as far as Hollywood, but they can’t drive King or T.I. to the top.

Contact transportation reporter Dave Yochum at [email protected].