My journey with TI started when I heard him on Bonecrusher's "Never Scared" which also featured Killer Mike. I had never heard of him before that track, but he had a nice verse at the end of "Never Scared". Shortly after hearing him on "Never Scared", I saw a video for a song that featured only TI which turned out to be "24s". The song was pretty good but that song alone wasn't enough to make me want to start buying TI CDs. However, when I saw his next video, "Be Easy", that all changed. Once I heard the nice, laid back track I figured that I would check out "Trap Muzik". My favorite tracks ended up being the third single, "Rubberband Man", "Trap Muzik", "I Still Luv U" and the classic collaboration with 8Ball, MJG & Bun B entitled "Bezzle". TI started catching momentum with "Rubberband Man" and his 4th single, "Let's Get Away", so before you know it he was already working on his next CD, "Urban Legend". The 1st single ended up being "Bring 'Em Out" where Swizz Beatz sampled a famous Jay Z line and created a nice Down South party track for T.I.P. to rock to. Before you know it TI had everyone in the club ready to hear this track at anytime. "Urban Legend" dropped and to me the CD was a notch up from "Trap Muzik" because overall the production was better. My favorite tracks ended up being "Motivation", "The Greatest", "Stand Up" w/Trick Daddy & Lil Wayne and "My Life" w/Daz Dillinger. "U Don't Know Me" was a favorite of mine as well but after hearing the song 236 times, I finally had to give the track a break. After TI dropped all of his singles for Urban Legend, he dropped a track with Lil Scrappy and Big Kuntry, who is in TI's group P$C entitled "I'm A King" that ended up being the lead single on the Hustle & Flow soundtrack. If anyone had doubts about TI's skills, they should have definitely became a believer by now. However, when you call yourself the King Of The South, you have to make sure that your skills are on point at all times.
"King" is actually TI's fourth solo CD. I never picked up "I'm Serious" which was his 1st solo CD, so I started listening to TI when "Trap Muzik" came out. "King" gets off to a nice start with the Just Blaze produced "King Back". TI does his best to proclaim his need for the crown. It is hard to argue with T.I.P. on this track because when you listen to the song it definitely makes you want to check out the rest of the CD. The 1st single, "What You Know" is in my opinion, the best track on "King". Even if your feet are cemented in the ground Toomp will have you bouncin' to this track. TI's lyrics are on point and it still seems that he has more words for Lil Flip towards the end of the song. The second single, "Front Back" is a tribute to UGK's original track, "Front, Back & Side To Side" from their "Super Tight" CD. I originally heard this track with just Bun B on a mixtape but once Pimp C returned home he probably just went to the studio and added a verse to the track. If you don't know anything about UGK and you like Down South rap music then definitely check out "Ridin' Dirty" and "Dirty Money" from UGK. You won't be disappointed. Just Blaze shows up again to produce "I'm Talkin' To You". On this track, TI sounds like he has alot of things to get off his chest. He definitely tells you who he is down with and who he is not talking to, but you will have a hard time trying to figure out who he is trying to diss. TI slows things down a bit on the heartfelt "Live In The Sky" which also features Jamie Foxx on the hook. This track reminds me of "Dead Homiez" by Ice Cube as TI takes the time out to reminisce about important people in his past that have passed away. This track is definitely one of my favorites on "King". On what will probably be the next single, TI has his specialty track for the ladies on "Why You Wanna". This track has club and crossover written all over it, however the track is still pretty good and very catchy. Mannie Fresh, who produced "Front Back" is also back to produce "Top Back". Cash Money should be kicking themselves in the *** after hearing this track for letting him leave Cash Money. TI does the rest with his lyrics and TI and Mannie are able to have good chemistry again just like they did on "The Greatest" from "Urban Legend". "I'm Straight" is a nice collaboration with TI, B.G. and Young Jeezy. Nick Fury provides a nice track and TI tells you that even without all the money from rapping as long as you give him the necessary ingredients that he'll be straight anyway. "Good Life" is produced by The Npetunes and features Common. That's right the same guy that dropped the classic "Be" CD is on a track with TI. Now that it's hard to imagine but when you have Pharrell on the boards anything is possible. Common drops a tight verse and TI does well on his 2 verses as well. This is my 2nd favorite track on "King". "Hello" samples the famous song that the Isley Brothers did a remake for, "Hello It's Me". TI has another track for the ladies and although Governor almost ruins the song by oversinging the hook, the song still ends up being pretty good.
"Bankhead" features P$C and Young Dro. The thing about "Bankhead" is that other than "I'm A King" it sounds better than any song that was on P$C's group CD "25 To Life". Although if you follow mixtapes P$C had a nice track with Paul Wall entitled "Killin' Me" that wasn't on their CD.
"King" is not without fault though. "Get It", which is produced by Swizz Beats is basically ridiculous. I guess T.I.P. had to give Swizz a chance to produce a track on "King" because of the success of "Bring 'Em Out". This time around, however, "Get It" doesn't cut it and should have been left off of the CD. It's definitely the worst song on "King". "Stand Up Guy" does not sound like a song that a King Of The South should be making. It offers nothing to the rest of the CD.
Overall, what TI shows me the most on "King" is consistency. The same way I was pleased with "Urban Legend" because of TI's lyrics and the overall production, I am also pleased with "King". However, "King" is not really that much better than "Urban Legend". They are really about the same.
If you liked "Trap Muzik" and "Urban Legend" like I did, then you will definitely have to pick up "King". He may not be the King Of The South to me, but he is definitely creating a place for himself among the top when it comes to Down South rappers.
James' Top 5
1) What You Know
2) Good Life w/Common & Pharrell
3) King Back
4) Live In The Sky w/Jamie Foxx
5) Ride Wit Me