In early September rapper T.I. was arrested along with his wife Tameka “Tiny” Cottle for drug possession in their vehicle, The drugs confiscated from the vehicle included marijuana and pills of ecstasy. Needless to say when facing another jail sentence after being just recently released, the album title King Uncaged loses most of its relevance. So T.I. changed the name of his sixth studio effort to No Mercy, either referring to his cold blooded ruthlessness on the streets or the unrelenting tough treatment he’s experienced in the court system over the past few years.
Despite T.I.’s highly publicized miscues he still remains one of the more intelligent rappers in the game. While Southern rappers are known for not putting an emphasis on lyricism, he’s one of the few artists to possess a SAT-like vocabulary. On Mercy he attempts to shed any perceptions that he is another sad case of exorbitant amounts of money with no true direction in life.
”You can be for certain nobody is perfect, but when you’re rich nobody gives a shit” he says on the Dream-assisted title track. Even with the trail of zeros on his bank account statements T.I. strives for the sympathy and understanding of his listeners. Redemption is key and on “Get Back Up” he teams up with Chris Brown, an artist who is seeking public forgiveness himself albeit for completely different reasons.
When not reminding us that he’s a convict with a conscience, T.I shows that he’s still about the party tracks. The xylophone-filled “Amazing” featuring Pharrell has a subdued cool with minimal instruments. “Poppin’ Bottles” featuring Drake is straight pre-gaming before going to the club material. The most poignant moment on the record comes on “Castle Walls” with Christina Aguliera. The theme of money creating isolation rears its head again, but the song succeeds with Aguliera’s powerful chorus and exceptional production from London native Alex Da Kid.
There seems to be a black cloud following T.I. lately, partly due to terrible judgment in choices and just plain bad luck. But what makes him special as an artist is that he doesn’t try to patch up his flaws and shortcomings. Even at his most boisterous T.I. has a sense of humility that allows him to be relatable. No Mercy is a scope into the last couple of chaotic years he has endured, and documents another chapter in the life of Clifford Harris.
No Mercy receives a PAR
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