T.I. – DIME TRAP

What up, what’s haapnin’ reader patnas? Today we will be getting into the 10th (!!) studio album of dirty south legend T.I. of Bankhead, Atlanta GA, aptly titled DIME TRAP. First up will be a scouting report, where I talk about his strengths and weaknesses as a rapper, best works and other notable things about the artist. Then I will get into the track-by-track breakdown where I’ll make some notes about each song and give each one a rating out of 5. Finally, I will break it down with some final thoughts about the album itself and give it a final score out of 100 (see here for more detail on how I score tracks/albums). Without further ado, let’s see if the trap is still bunkin.

Scouting Report

  • T.I. needs no introduction in terms of his place in hip-hop. He is one of the most successful southern rappers of all time regarding both commercial and critical success. He has released 5 platinum albums (3 of which have debuted at #1 on Billboard 200) and has also lauded high praise from critics for many of his records, notably Trap Muzik and King, many stamping them with the highly inclusive “classic” label.
  • Although the heights of his career are behind him, his versatile skill set as a rapper/actor/businessman that has still kept him relevant during what is now is undoubtedly the twilight years of his music career. He has kept himself relevant by starting Grand Hustle Records, signing and endorsing acts like Travis Scott and Iggy Azalea, and also acting in major motion pictures and television shows.
  • T.I. has shown through his own material and features on others that he can still rap just as good as he always has; he is not a victim of the classic hip-hop oldhead syndrome where great rappers suddenly forget how to rap once they are past the prime of their careers. He also has taken a turn towards diversifying his content recently; speaking out on social issues and racial injustice rather than just the southern street anthems he’s made his name for earlier in his career.
  • He has not released a full-length solo project since 2014’s Paperwork. This album was first promoted in 2015 after he released his EP Da Nic as a prelude, so the DIME TRAP has been at least 3 years in the making.
  • Strengths: 
    • Unmistakable southern spoken word delivery, one of the most recognizable in all of hip-hop
    • Also an outstanding lyricist, potentially due to his age and the era he came into the rap game despite being from the south; a region not known for lyrically-driven rappers
    • Mainly speaks on the trap, but diversifies his catalog very well with club anthems, love songs, street stories, and deep cuts
  • Weaknesses
    • Due to his lengthy track record as being a rapper from the streets, the older he gets, the longer he has been removed from that element. Do fans still want to hear the same content we heard from T.I. when he dropped Trap Muzik? Probably not, they can get that content from a younger rapper that is fresh off of the streets with a more refreshing take on the same material
    • Hasn’t had a charting single in four years or an RIAA certified album in six years. I wonder if he still has the same hitmaking ability that he once had. Wost case scenario: he rides a trend that has worked for his younger contemporaries and flops.
  • Best Songs released before DIME TRAP: Too many to name, I’ll just link the iTunes essentials playlist, and you can start from the top.

https://embed.music.apple.com/us/playlist/t-i-essentials/pl.5eaa60f4074545609d3017d99c71a5cd

  • Best Project released before DIME TRAP: King

https://embed.music.apple.com/us/album/king-deluxe-version/1260894780

Track-by-Track

1. Seasons (feat. Sam Hook)

Dave Chappelle intros the track as narrator the album sets the tone with a subjective statement. T.I. waxes poetic about how far he’s come and the success and failures he’s achieved in life. Great gospel-inspired instrumental with organs and vocal samples, great hook from Sam Dew that fits the theme of the song content. OVERALL: 4/5

2. Laugh At Em

Just Blaze and Cardiak tag the beat before it drops, very high energy. Tip matches the energy with a fast and frenetic flow where he doesn’t sacrifice anything regarding delivery. Long verses separated by a short bridge. Great rap performance. OVERALL: 4/5

3. Big Ol’ Drip (feat. WATCH THE DUCK)

Awesome piano-laced instrumental that picks up and drops with heavy bass and horns after the first verse/hook, one of the best on the project. T.I. kicks knowledge and gives pro-tips on how to make the most of your life bar “callin’ me an activist I stumbled on it by accident.” Very soulful hook from frequent collaborator WATCH THE DUCK. OVERALL 4.5/5

4. Wraith (feat. Yo Gotti)

The second single released a month before the album with “Jefe.” Very well delivered and catchy spoken word hook from Tip. T.I.’s verses mostly comprise of flexes; Gotti’s verse is along the same lines but can’t compete with T.I. with flow or delivery. Dave Chappelle described this Scott Storch produced instrumental as “sneaky as shit” at the end of the album, and I couldn’t think of a better description. OVERALL: 4/5

5. The Weekend (feat. Young Thug)

The fourth single released for the album. Instrumental is a relaxing, guitar infused softer-sounding Swizz Beatz production that sounds like it was made for radio. Thugger does the hook and gives a verse, both decent; not his best. T.I. has a solid first verse but then attempts a melodic autotune delivery for the third that doesn’t really work for him. OVERALL: 3/5

6. The Amazing Mr. Fuck Up (feat. Victoria Monét)

Straightforward instrumental, doesn’t have much to it other than some drums and background vocal samples from Victoria Monet. Her intro and hook are both excellent, speaking from the perspective of T.I.’s wife Tiny. Tip goes full out apology-mode in his verses and accepts all responsibility for the mistakes he’s made in his relationship and what led to his separation from his wife. Samples his acting debut at the end; rejects the apology of Erin, his love interest in ATLOVERALL: 4.5/5

7. At Least I Know (feat. Anderson .Paak)

Good vibes on this instrumental, upbeat and fits Anderson .Paak’s hook very well. Excellent hook from cheeky Andy, Tip gives background vocals also. T.I. gives us a melodic delivery on his verses that seem to refer to his wife, much better than the one at the end of “The Weekend.” Anderson .Paak also brings a mostly spoken word rap verse to the table and holds his own. OVERALL: 4/5

8. What Can I Say

Dave Chappelle intro sets tone for spoken word chorus where T.I. talks about how much money he makes; pretty average. Verses do give gems on how to properly invest your money, especially by investing it back into the community, but they mostly comprise of flexes and tell the dope-boy-turned-rich story that we’ve heard many times before. Ordinary instrumental, nothing special. OVERALL: 3.5/5

9. Jefe (feat. Meek Mill)

The third single released with “Wraith”. Pretty hilarious intro from Chappelle, leads into a very Latin-influenced instrumental complete with mariachi sounds and heavy drums and bass, great beat by Bangladesh. Both Meek and T.I. deliver very energetic verses that match the energy of the beat. The only thing that brings this song down is the outro conversation in broken Spanish from T.I. which is totally unnecessary. OVERALL: 4/5

10. More & More (feat. Jeezy)

One of the best beats on the project, very heavy horns, organ and trap drums pulsating throughout; classic street anthem sound. T.I. brings two very good verses heavy laden with street content, Jeezy brings one on his own and doesn’t disappoint, fits the instrumental perfectly. Soft outro spoken word that leads into next song. OVERALL: 4.5/5

11. Pray for Me (feat. YFN Lucci)

Instrumental transitions from the outro of the last song very well. Softer piano sounding with piano. Lucci starts off the song with the hook and a verse; poignant hook gives a voice of pain that those from the ghetto can relate to, but the verse is average for his standards, have heard better from him. T.I. spits one long verse that talks about his come up and threatens his detractors, decent but nothing special. OVERALL: 3.5/5

12. Looking Back

Dave Chappelle helps with the transition from the last track, hypes up the instrumental a lot; unfortunately for me, it doesn’t live up to it. It’s not bad, it has a nice guitar, but other than that it’s relatively simple. Verses are very autobiographical, gives details about certain events that directly or indirectly led him to jail or prison. Hook fits the verse content but it’s repetitive and not very catchy. OVERALL: 4/5

13. Light Day

Instrumental is produced by entirely by his son Messiah and clearly wasn’t just put on due to nepotism as it is one of (if not the best) beats on the entire album. Excellent flow on T.I.’s verses; also speaks humbly on what his goal was and how he achieved it, also states the importance of following principles. Hook has a softer delivery but fits the motivational content of the song. OVERALL: 4.5/5

14. You (feat. Teyana Taylor)

Soft sounding spacey instrumental that gives room for Teyana to flex her impressive vocal skills on the hook, which she does to great effect for the best vocal performance on the album. T.I. speaks some real shit in the verses like motivating the kids and “conservative” pedophiles against rights of homosexuals, people that went to college barely getting by but some that went to jail are millionaires. One of T.I.’s best songs in terms of lyrical content. OVERALL: 4.5/5

15. Be There (feat. London Jae)

Long but impressive hook delivered by London Jae, whom I wish I heard more from after hearing content few and far between from him. T.I. raps about being there and staying true to himself right or wrong through his entire career, and also about how he’s always going to be in a great position in hip-hop if he keeps being himself. Instrumental is a rollercoaster; evolves all the way through to the end of the outro where T.I. makes a very insightful claim regarding the ghetto and how it has evolved since the crack era. OVERALL: 4.5/5

Final Thoughts

  • The album is very, very strong as a body of work. There is something about every song that I like, and the best songs are some of T.I.’s best work of his entire career, proving that he is still growing as an artist at album 10 and year 17 of his music career.
  • T.I. clearly hasn’t lost a step when it comes to his rap performances; delivery is just as unapologetically country strong, bars are just as good, quotables are just as insightful.
  • His beats are mostly produced by producers that were at the top of their game when he was at the top of their career, which works very well for him because he doesn’t try to chase any new sounds; the chemistry between him and the producers that has been created after years of working with one another is obvious.
  • Dave Chappelle’s narration was a nice touch, definitely gave some context to the subject content in many of the songs he appeared on
  • There’s no real epic street anthem or hit song like there has been on previous T.I. albums, but at this point in his career as a legacy artist he doesn’t need to prove himself in that respect
  • The only negatives are that some of the cliche rap flexings does get repetitive, and it seems like he chased a hit with “Weekend”
  • Right up there with some of the best albums of his career, further cements his hip-hop hall-of-fame status

FINAL SCORE: 84/100

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