To say that T.I. Vs. T.I.P. was my most anticipated album this year would be an understatement. Of all the emcees currently in the game, T.I. is my personal favorite. Do I think he's the best? No. That'd be ignorant to say that Tip, no matter how great of an artist I think he is, is the best in the game. So, when this album finally became available on Sunday night, I most certainly marked like a muh**** and got it immediately.
Now, honestly, despite how anxiously I awaited this LP, the truth is, I didn't expect T.I. to exceed King. King was an amazing, and honestly, rather surprising album from Tip; the defining moment of his career, imo. To expect T.I. to top that effort would be inane, and expecting him to follow the same formula for a follow-up would be setting yourself up for disappointment. This album is its own entity; and that's really all I wanted from Mr. Harris.
Act I is the intro to this album, and also the T.I.P. segment. Act I, II, and III all sport the same beat, which is a monster onto itself. Just a shame it wasn't used for a full length track. The first full song on the album is the LP's first single, Big Things Poppin'. While Big Things Poppin' felt like an underwhelming single at first, it has grown on me significantly since its release a few months ago. I know a lotta peeps are saying it's a Top Back clone, but I don't see any resemblance other than Tip rhyming over a Mannie beat. Following that is the appropriately titled Raw, in which T.I. claims that as long as he's alive, other emcees are gonna have to settle for second place. The fourth track is the second single from the album, You Know What It Is, featuring Wyclef. Wyclef, imo, has really redeemed himself over the last year, at least on the production end of things. His work on the Ying Yang Twinz album was hot, and made Chemically Imbalanced a lot more tolerable than it would've been. His work on his is also significantly hot, and this is the lesser of his two tracks in quality. It's still a hot single, though, and T.I.'s on top of his hook game here. Da Dopeman should've sported a guest spot from Jeezy, but T.I.P. holds it down on his own. I'm sure a bunch of people'll see this as glamourizing the trap, but T.I. shares the ill of the crack game on this track too. Something a lotta trap-rappers fail to these days. Watch What You Say To Me finds T.I. and Jay-Z on the same track. Something that sounded like a dream come true, and while it is definitely dope, it's a little underwhelming, almost in the same way Black Republicans was on Hip-Hop Is Dead(however, Black Republicans > Watch What You Say To Me). The problem is, the chemistry just isn't there with Jigga and the King. Aside from the lacking chemistry, Khao's beat is dope, Pimp C-inspired guitar fare, and both T.I. and Hov drop some tight verses, if nothing ground-breaking. Hurt is the first beat from Danja, also known as Timbaland's Mini-Me. Danja's beat is dope, and the track features P$C's Alfa Mega and the legendary Busta Rhymes. Busta's verse is spectacular, and probably some of the hottest **** he's spit since signing with Aftermath(even though The Big Bang was dope overall). Alfa Mega has a lotta potential, if not as much as Big Kuntry, who is surprisingly absent from the album(although he's on the bonus track, No Sweat). T.I. mercs the first verse, which he also spit on the recent edition of Rapcity.
Act II is up next, and is the T.I. half of the album. After this is possibly the best track on the entire album, Help Is Coming. The beat from Just Blaze sounds like something straight outta Superman, in a good way. It helps that T.I. makes himself out as some sorta superhero on this track, here to save hip-hop. Does hip-hop need saving? No, not really. But, if anyone in the mainstream right now could save the game, it'd be Clifford. Tip mentions declining album sales and bootlegging, and believes he's the answer to the problem. Clearly, he isn't the answer to bootlegging, since this album will be illegally acquired by millions around the net; but, he most likely is the answer to declining album sales, since this is likely to sell more than any hip-hop album that's been release thus far this year, and probably as much as the top three selling albums this year at this point combined. Up next is the second Wyclef collabo, My Swag. Some people may not be feeling this track, but the Miami Vice vibe is definitely dope to me. T.I. raps about traveling around the world, which does bring up one thing; Tip certainly loves rapping about states and foreign cities. One outta every three Tip tracks since Ride Wit Me seem to include at least three cities name-checked, and while I can see that annoying some people, it doesn't really bother me. This is one of my favorite tracks on the album, and T.I.'s flow is killer over this beat. We Do This is produced by The Runners, and the Mi-A-Yo producers provide Tip with a tight beat. This could easily be the next single, as could most, if not all of the tracks on Act II; however, I'd most likely go with this next, especially given the Runners' track record for hit singles. Show It To Me is next, featuring Nelly; I've never been a huge fan of the St. Louis don, but Nelly drops an impressive verse, featuring his signature energetic flow, as he spits seamlessly over the track. T.I. isn't to be outshined though, and he drops two dope verses of his own. After that is the smooth ladies track, this albums Why You Wanna so to speak, in Don't You Wanna Be High. The Runners produced this track as well, and why not as explosive as We Do This, it's still a nice track, and aimed at the right market. After this is the last track on Act II, the highly anticipated Eminem collabo, Touchdown. Unfortunately, there's two things a bit disappointing about this track; Eminem produced it, and Eminem is clearly outshined by T.I.'s second verse. Still, this track does its job well, and even though Em sounds rather tired, he's still up on the metaphore game.
Act III is short, with only three tracks, but all three are consistently dope. T.I. and T.I.P.'s confrontation on the prelude to Act III is well-played by Tip, and the track following this, Tell 'Em I Said That, has a phenomenal beat from Danja Handz. T.I., or T.I.P., shines brightly over this beat, while he disses a plethora of unnamed rappers, who could be almost anyone in the industry. Respect This Hustle is a track in which T.I. and T.I.P. have a true confrontation in a song, and while that maybe hard to follow for people who weren't paying the utmost attention to detail in this album, for those with a longer attention-span, this is certainly an album highlight. The hook is tight, and T.I.'s verses are definitely dope. The final track features an elegant beat from Grand Hustle in house producer, Keith Mack; and this is one of the best tracks of T.I.'s career, as he gets very personal on this track. For sure, when T.I. is gone(which hopefully isn't for another 50 years or so), he'll certainly be missed in the hip-hop game.
Overall, T.I. Vs. T.I.P. is an album that is consistently dope from start to finish. No, it's not groundbreaking. No, it's not King, and it's not Trap Muzik. But did you really want that? No. This is T.I. most consistent album to date(no filler whatsoever), and while it may not host a track of What You Know proportions, it is a fine piece of ART. Remember, that's what this album is, and although it may take a handful of listens to really start feeling this album, with enough patience, you'll love it in the end. I tip my hat to Tip for such a strong effort, and look forward to the next one.