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T.I.: Urban Legend

T.I.: Urban Legend

Label:Grand Hustle/Atlantic
Release Date:2004
Genre:Hip Hop/Rap

By Tom Breihan | Posted 12/29/2004

T.I. had a big 2004: his first big hit single, prison time for parole violation, high-profile beefs with Lil Flip and Ludacris, and guest appearances on nearly every Southern rap album. Somewhere along the way, he became a great rapper. On Urban Legend, T.I.’s flow is more focused and confident than it was on his 2003 breakthrough, Trap Muzik; he shows the cool, hard arrogance of a scrappy, Southern Jay-Z. “You hatin’ and it’s evident/ You tryin’ to stack presidents, I’m tryin’ to set precedents,” he calmly sneers on “My Life.”

Despite his MC improvements, Legend isn’t nearly as good as Muzik, whose lyrics addressed such sweeping themes as the conflicted self-justifications of drug dealers and the bitter regret of absentee fathers. Legend mostly finds T.I. concerned with solidifying his position as the self-declared king of the South, its generically slick and busy Southern beats replacing Muzik’s warm, organic production. Legend has a few great tracks: the chunky, horn-driven banger “What They Do,” the eerily low-key G-funk pastiche “My Life,” and most of all the chaotically dense first single “Bring ’Em Out,” which sounds heavily influenced by Baltimore club music. But nothing on Legend can compete with the gloriously sunny candy-crunk Muzik hit “Rubber Band Man,” and the new album feels like a thrown-together collection instead of a unified work. When T.I. puts his newly toughened flow into a grand statement instead of a fourth-quarter cash-in, he’ll have something. Until then, stick with Muzik.

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