T.I.

King (Atlantic)

Phases and Stages

T.I.

King (Atlantic)

"Respected from East to West like he was running the Mob," T.I. ascends the throne of rap regality on his fourth LP. Consistent as it is tenacious, King's effortless flow over top-grade beats comes courtesy of Mannie Fresh, Just Blaze, and DJ Toomp, and as the synth-laden "What You Know" has already made the job of radio programmers that much easier, T.I.'s transcends flash-in-the-pan status with a swagger unmatched in hip-hop. Recounting his past as an Atlanta dope boy, "I'm Straight" features the newfound movie star swapping corner stories with BG and Young Jeezy, while on "Told You So," T.I. reveals "I been hustlin' since '92 when I heard UGK, hollarin' Pocket Full of Stones. I was on my way." Harkening back to his Texas role models remaking E-40's "Captain Save a Ho" as their own "Choppin' Blades," T.I. enlists Bun B and Pimp C for high-inducing UGK rehash "Front Back." Whether riding rock allusions on "You Know Who," house vibes on "Why You Wanna," or the hyphy tweak of "Stand Up Guy," T.I.'s Southern drawl bends pedestrian phrases into irresistible melodies hotter than the summer streets to come.

****

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