Guests include A$AP Rocky, Cee Lo Green, R. Kelly, Meek Mill, André 3000 and Lil Wayne, among others. Solid production comes from the likes of Pharrell, Jazze Pha, No I.D. and frequent T.I. collaborator DJ Toomp.
Overall, Trouble Man
is a pretty solid album. T.I. raps about his reputation as a troublemaker, but is largely unapologetic about it. He accepts who he is, in a way that shows nobody is perfect.
At times he shows flashes of the old T.I., the trap-oriented rapper with something to prove. He raps as though he’s hungry, but still makes it clear that he’s eating. Much of the content of his rhymes focuses on drugs, money and violence, showing that prison time didn’t eliminate his troublesome roots. He couldn’t have titled the album more perfectly.
T.I. gets off to a great start on “The Introduction,” a Toomp-produced track that includes the aforementioned Gaye sample. He opens the album to perfection, spitting about his troublesome past and his identity of a “trouble man.” “Wildside,” which features Rocky, is another great song with a similar message. The two rappers lay rhymes about their lifestyles; for them, the wild side is the only side.
The André 3000-assisted “Sorry” is definitely the strongest track. Despite the title, it is extremely unapologetic, with T.I. admitting that he doesn’t intend to please everyone. André 3000 steps out of hiding to drop an excellent verse that both echoes that sentiment and includes some true apologies, including one aimed at his Outkast partner, Big Boi. A laid-back Jazze Pha beat and a smooth hook make this song the complete package.
T.I. has made a lot of pop-oriented songs in the past few years, but this disc gets away from that, for the most part. A few songs, like “Cruisin’” and “Ball,” still fall into this category, but the bulk of the album includes less radio-friendly, autobiographical songs. Trouble Man
is not perfect, but it’s probably T.I.’s best work since his fourth studio album, King.
The project is honest and showcases the rapper’s flaws and mistakes. It also shows some of the same hunger that he had back when he dropped I’m Serious
and Trap Muzik.
The album more than serves its confessional and unapologetic purposes, and it’s certainly worth a few spins. —Ryan Querbach