Release date: Dec. 7, 2010
Record label: Atlantic
Official website: http://www.trapmuzik.com/
The buzz: At this point in his career, Clifford “T.I.” Harris is almost more famous for his incarcerations than he is for his music. The troubled rapper spent half of 2009 locked up on a weapons charge, and was just sent back to the big house in November for a probation violation. He began work on this seventh studio album in early 2009 and finished it over the summer following his release from federal prison; guests include Kanye West, Eminem, Drake, Christina Aguilera and Chris Brown.
The verdict: “No Mercy” isn’t exactly a concept album, but T.I.’s ongoing legal woes provide a compelling narrative backbone. It’s fascinating to hear the self-proclaimed King “apologize for being human” and vow not to make the same mistakes on “Get Back Up,” knowing that he’s already back behind bars. But mea culpa’s aren’t really T.I.’s bag, and wisely, he doesn’t dwell too long on them—instead, “No Mercy” has plenty of baller anthems and club thumpers, the best of which, the jittery “Lay Me Down,” reteams the ATL rapper with Jim Jonsin, the production whiz behind “Whatever You Like.” The worst? “Amazing,” a minimalist, Neptunes-produced jam so dumb it briefly flirts with brilliance, then comes full circle back to dumb again.
Did you know? The album’s original title was “King Uncaged,” but after T.I. was sentenced in October for drug possession and violating his parole, it was changed to “No Mercy.”