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50 of 68 found the following review helpful:
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice... Dec 07, 2010
I'm almost embarrassed of the review I wrote of T.I.'s last album, Paper Trail. I called it "astounding in its sincerity" and applaud T.I. for his "nuanced understanding of life" and for owning up to his mistakes. Boy, did he have me fooled. No Mercy is little more than Paper Trail Redux. We hear the same tired excuses, the same promises to change and the same admonition of his so-called "haters." Except this time, instead of a good record we get a feature-heavy mess rushed out the door before another jail stint, from a rapper than can't seem to embody the role model he keeps trying to convince us that he is.
The parallels between this record and Paper Trail are numerous. On Paper Trail we heard "Apologies to the fans, I hope you can understand it" while on this album we get "Apologies to my fans, and my closest friends/ For letting you down, I won't take you down this road again," (on a track featuring that other poster boy for good decisions, Chris Brown). On Paper Trail Tip rapped ""You've seen it all before guys, know how the story goes/ It's like Tupac never died, sit back enjoy the show," and here we get "Blatant displays today of hypocrisy, boy you gots to be kiddin' me/ Could it be possible, second coming of `Pac is me." "Swing Your Rag" from Paper Trail is "Salute" on No Mercy, "Poppin' Bottles" is this album's "Every Chance I Get," Tip swaps out Rihanna for Christina Aguilera and gives us "Castle Walls" instead of "Live Your Life," another vehicle for him to lament the trials of fame and fortune. T.I. even ensures that listeners relive the horror of "Porn Star" through "Strip."
Perhaps the most redeeming aspect of the album is the part that Tip has little to do with: The features. Whereas on Paper Trail's "Swagger Like Us" we heard T.I. embarrass three of the biggest rappers on the planet, on No Mercy nearly every featured artist outpaces Tip. Eminem and Kanye West deliver particularly noteworthy verses, and even Pharrell, a producer by day and rapper on the side, outshines T.I.
To be perfectly fair, this isn't a bad album. The beat selection is solid, T.I.'s lyricism has been worse in the past and the features are phenomenal. But any positive aspects of the album are marred by the utter feeling of insincerity you can't shake as you listen to the same themes, the same songs and the same excuses. You can't help but feel No Mercy is just another exercise in T.I.'s specialty: Playing the victim.
14 of 19 found the following review helpful:
T.I. - A Tragic Hero??? Dec 07, 2010
"Both Eyes Closed, see what u don't hear what u can't"
Throughout his music career, T.I. has been in and out of trouble. Whether the subject of beef and violence with other rappers such as Gucci Mane, Ludacris, Lil Flip, or Shawty Lo, jail sentences with the infamous weapons charge in response to his friend's murder and most recently his blatant violation of probation of making illegal u-turns with various drugs in his possession after he had "gotten off easy". But yet T.I. served his community service admirably by enthusiastically visiting schools and helping the youth at detention centers. He even miraculously talked a man down from jumping off a building earlier this year prior to his prison sentence.
To many fans it is puzzling why he cannot stay out of trouble. He has a family that counts on him, the record label has stalled with output without him, his acting career is on the verge having appeared in American Gangster and more recently Takers alongside some talented actors, and the endorsements and TV shows continue to roll in. The mistakes and the lapses in judgment are pretty much unexplainable.
So when T.I. got out of jail earlier this year and started to prepare his comeback most people were eager to see what he had in store and if he could still do it. There were whispers of T.I. falling off and not having a "buzz" for this album...mostly through the blogs who overhype certain acts and downplay others.
Earlier this year he dropped "Bump" A Mixtape , even though it was overshadowed by Rick Ross' Albert Anastacia which dropped on the same day, was still a solid mixtape to whet the appetite and start the T.I. comeback campaign. In the next few months he released a flurry of singles including Hell Of A Life, Got Your Back ft. Keri Hilson, I'm Back, Yeah Ya Know (Takers), Ya Hear Me, and Remember Me ft. Mary J. Blige which were all pretty good songs and none made the album.
The album originally titled King Uncaged was to be released in conjunction with the Takers movie however, T.I. was arrested on for drug possession and traffic violations. The album was pushed back and renamed to No Mercy and here we are.
Any talk of a fall off should be immediately silenced once this album is heard. If his guest appearances on Nelly, N.E.R.D., Ron Isley, and Rick Ross' albums amongst others didn't convince you then the album is here to set the record straight.
On No Mercy, T.I. revisits several elements that made his other albums successful. Whether it's the introspection and reflection of Paper Trail, the storytelling of KING or the aggressiveness on Urban Legend, T.I. does what he does and does it well. The production well fits the mood of the album and is done by a handful of producers including Kanye West, DJ Toomp, The Dream, Jim Jonsin, Neptunes and Jake One amongst others. The features are also high profile with Eminem, Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Drake, Christina Aguilera and Chris Brown being the headliners. Welcome To The World, Castle Walls, and the title track are the greatest songs but the rest of the album is no slouch.
T.I., the King of the South, manages to release another solid album and the second in a row in which he is unable to enjoy the success or promote properly because of his decisions. Still, however, he continues to show that he is an elite rapper and a headliner for his music. No Mercy fits in nicely with the rest of his outstanding catalog and there is no let down in the music or the lyrics (the only lame album was T.I. vs. T.I.P.). I doubt T.I. will top the charts with this album but that doesn't make it any less worthy or praise or recognition. No Mercy is an album worth having in the collection. 4.5 stars.
* There are several versions of the album which means bonus tracks. The aformentioned singles not on the album as well as Follow Me Now and I Pledge Allegiance To The Swag ft. Rick Ross are on the ** version and the deluxe edition has two bonus tracks Like So & That's What I Thought. Why not release a double album?? So find those the best way you can.*
3 of 4 found the following review helpful:
Lukewarm At Best Dec 19, 2010
By Michael Brent Faulkner, Jr.
T.I. has hit the `high watermark' within his career several times - or rather with several albums. 2003's Trap Muzik is regarded as a high mark, helping to propel the MC to `star status' while 2006's King, arguably his best effort, won the rapper a Grammy for best rap solo performance for the ubiquitous trunk-rattler "What You Know." 2008's Paper Trail gave T.I. his biggest commercial boost, becoming his first album certified double platinum. After and in-between all of the successes, T.I. has fell victim to a host of problems, most prominently being jail. No Mercy is forced to thrive as an album from T.I. being in prison. Sure, some artists have successfully sold albums from jail (Lil Wayne), but most times the albums tend to flop (Lil Kim's `The Naked Truth' or Shyne's `Godfather Buried Alive.' `No Mercy's' fate is yet to be determined, but there are numerous factors working against it. The first is merely that first week sales are off by nearly 400,000 copies from 2008's `Paper Trail.' The bigger factor, however, is the fact that the effort is `second rate' by the MC's standards, perhaps making it seem as if T.I. should have waited to release an album with stronger, more inspired material than this one. That is not to say there aren't some solid moments, but for the most part, you can find much better, higher quality moments from the rest of T.I.'s discography.
"Welcome to the World" features rap standouts Kanye West and KiD CuDi. The cut features strong production work by Kanye West, though if falls short in comparison to the true opener of `Paper Trail,' the fiery "Illy." Non-conventional, the track is an interesting listen after a couple of spins, but a bit odd from a first listen. In regards to T.I.'s verses, there are some good lines, but it feels less fiery than his best. "How Life Changed" is a better cut, featuring a soulful vocal performance by Mitchelle'l (the highlight of the entire performance) and a solid guest-rap from Scarface. The hook is the strong point, where guest vocalist Mitchelle'l sings: "I'm remember walkin'/didn't have a dollar in my pocket/ now I'm watching stocks like what's the options?/ ooh ooh, ooh ooh, how life's changed/I remember hustlin'/tryin' to get these crooked cops off us/now I read about it in my office/ooh ooh, ooh ooh, how life's changed." As stated prior, Mitchelle'l steals the show.
"Get Back Up" features Chris Brown and is produced by The Neptunes. The production work stands out and Brown's vocals on the hook are solid ("Hello out there/can you hear it me/it's an S.O.S..."). Most clever may be the fact that Brown's vocals play in the background behind T.I.'s verses - a nice touch. "I Can't Help It" featuring Rocko keeps up the momentum, with exceptional production work by Smash Factory. T.I. sounds among his most agile here of the entirety of the album and Rocko's guest spot is solid. As for "That's All She Wrote," another collaboration, this time with Eminem and unlikely producer Dr. Luke (Ke$ha, Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry), the track is just blatantly odd. Dr. Luke's production surprisingly works as does the hook, but the track drags on too long and doesn't quite live up to the hype of it's two master MCs.
"No Mercy" features The-Dream with superb vocals on the hook. The main issue here is that T.I.'s verse are just ok. "Big Picture" revives some lost momentum on this solidly produced Toomp track. The hook is catchy and relevant, and makes up for T.I.'s missed opportunity on "No Mercy." "Strip" featuring Young Dro and Trey Songz is decent, but shallow, making no deep revelations. "Salute" is better with fine production work. "Amazing," produced and featuring Pharrell (The Neptunes) is clever, but drags on too long, clocking in at over 5:00. As with so many cuts from `No Mercy,' there is a lack of depth that takes-away from this cut.
"Everything On Me," submitted by producer Danja (associate of Timbaland), works extremely well; T.I. sounds more inspired here. "Poppin' Bottles" featuring rapper `diaper dandy' Drake lasts too long, but is one of the more enjoyable, noteworthy cuts on this effort. "Lay Me Down" featuring Rico Love reunites T.I. with producer Jim Jonsin ("Whatever U Like) for one of the albums most unique productions. Unfortunately, the track is not as effective as it's underpinnings. Closing cut "Castle Walls" place T.I. with Christina Aguilera in an interesting collaboration to say the least. Aguilera is tame for the most part, until the end, which is incredibly unusual for her. The track proves too long and by the time you reach it, the listener has grown weary of T.I., which is unfortunate.
No Mercy is a mediocre effort when examined cohesively. There are no #1 hits here like on the exceptional `Paper Trail,' which had too many guest stars itself, but made it work out. 'No Mercy' has too much star-power to sound as weak as it does at some moments. While no one would call T.I. the best MC, he comes over as lyrically weak too many times on this effort, which is disappointing after hearing the MC knock it out of the park more times than not on earlier efforts.
1 of 1 found the following review helpful:
Disappointing Jan 07, 2011
This album, coming after the masterpiece that was Paper Trail, is a big disappointment. I like the beats, but his lyrics are depressing and weak. A lot of his songs are about him resenting people (like, let me welcome everyone to the world except for the fake negroes... or, life is tough when you are rich, everyone is out to get you). His words just seem bland at best or stupid and embarrassing at worst. Its also annoying hear him say "never again" in this album which is released AS HE IS RETURNING to prison.
what up t.i.? you just a dumb punk?
3 of 4 found the following review helpful:
I disagree with the Title of this album... Apr 08, 2011
"No Mercy" as the title was a very poor decision because T.I. was caught with illegal fully automatic weapons which could have put him in prison for life. He some how received the best deal of anyone charged with this which was 1 year with probation that he obviously was not able to abide by explaining his current imprisonment. The album itself was quickly put together before he had to begin his federal sentence which so he had very little time and this is why the album falls short of his other albums which I would rate 5/5.
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