Far be it from me to question an Atlanta native, but last month when Yoh dubbed T.I. “the South’s Undisputed Ruler” my eyebrows shot up to the top of my head.
I love ATL as much as the next cinema buff and I fondly remember a time when T.I. really was the “King,” but that was literally a decade ago.
Though he hasn’t rusted-over like Jay or some of his fellow veteran counterparts, T.I. has failed to make a significant musical impact in quite some time. He hasn’t had a single crack the Billboard Top 20 since 2008, and his last big record, “No Mediocre,” was exactly that; it peaked at #33 and had Iggy Azalea riding shotgun.
I'm not worried about what the future holds for T.I., both his Grand Hustle distribution deal with Roc Nation and a deal with TIDAL suggest he's still very much in demand, but I’ve been eagerly awaiting new music. Cue his new, Dr. Dre-produced single “Dope.”
Again, this is coming from a place of pure fandom, as a crazed hip-hop listener who remembers when T.I. was among the best rappers on the planet, but “Dope” just doesn't have the sound of a “comeback single.” While I dig the sonic atmosphere created by Dre, and it's hard not to be impressed at how smooth T.I. is on the track, longtime fans are sure to be underwhelmed. The Marsha Ambrosius-assisted effort sounds more like an album cut you vibe out to, not a showstopping, days-of-old inspirational banger.
But fans who are slightly dissappointed, those who didn't find “Dope” to stay true to it's title, might not be upset for long…
Just when I thought I was out… Back working for couple more weeks. Me and @troubleman31 connect.
We so closely associate Just Blaze with Jay Z, but he’s the man responsible for both T.I's “King Back” and Harris' last number one hit, “Live Your Life.” If T.I. wants to make this work, he’s going to need the energy of a “King Back” and the widespread appeal of a “Live Your Life” and Blaze is the perfect producer to help deliver both.
So, while “Dope” will make a nice addition to T.I.'s currently-unscheduled new album, The Dime Trap, what the doctor should really order up is some more Just Blaze.
Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth. His favorite album is College Dropout but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth. Image via Instagram.