Back in October 2007, just four hours before the BET Hip-Hop Awards in his home town of Atlanta, T.I. was charged with two felonies — possession of three unregistered machine guns and two silencers, and possession of firearms by a convicted felon. It was a big blow for the superstar rapper, but either way, T.I. did his time and was released this past March.
We all know that everyone makes mistakes. Even rappers. But in order to appreciate how far T.I.'s fall from grace was, we have to first establish just how high he once was and how he elevated himself to the top of the hip-hop world.
The self-proclaimed “king of the south”, T.I. truly established his royal lineage on his 2006 album, aptly titled, “King”. Released in March 2006, the album debuted at number one on the Billboard charts and was nominated for a Grammy.
T.I. showcases how truly skilled he is on this album, taking full command on every track and rapping with a combination of attitude and confidence that few can match. From top to bottom the album is packed with hits. “What You Know” is easily the most popular of the bunch, but “Why You Wanna”, “Live in the Sky”, “Front Back” and “I’m Talkin’ to You” are all excellent as well.
T.I. also brings out some great collaborators on this album, including Pharrell, Common, Young Jeezy, and Jamie Foxx. All contribute some great verses to the album, but it’s still T.I. who shines above the rest.
“Live in the Sky”, which features Foxx singing some heavy gospel, is easily the most personal track on the album. The somber ballad has T.I. rapping about the pain of losing friends and family to violence.
You can hear the heartbreak in his voice as he raps: “My cousin died over some yay and I miss 'em/Plus he had his family out let's say she the eye witness/But her boyfriend did the shooting judge gave her life sentence.”
It only took one month for the single “What You Know” to go platinum and it was for good reason. The track is the masterpiece of “King” and the chorus is truly an epic creation. The simple verse still echoes on today in the hip-hop world: “What you know about that?/What you know about that?/What you know about that?/Hey I know all about that.”
Aside from “What You Know”, “Why You Wanna” is my personal favorite track on the album. The beat is infectious, the sound of it is like a lost cousin to a Jay-Z track, and I mean that as a compliment.
T.I. raps in his patented laid back, yet cocky style about women and relationships and you can hear the playful humor as he raps: “Can he touch you like that, and make you make you feel like this?/How I left and came back and it's still like this/Do he hit it from the back and make you feel it yo chest/Take advantage of what your concealing in yo dress/What, he think he too fresh to show that you the best.”
Throughout his career, T.I. has had some amazing highs, and some unfortunate lows. But no matter how you view T.I. as a person, one thing is clear: he is wonderfully skilled as a rapper. Who knows what the future holds for the artist, but one thing he will always have is “King”.
Although T.I. crowned it himself, "King" is definitely worthy of the royal treatment.