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DAR Hip Hop: Ranking T.I.'s Albums



By @TrueGodImmortal 





For many, T.I. is one of the best rappers to come out the south. I'd not dispute this at all, as his southern style and Atlanta bred stories keep his music entertaining and his lyrical ability could entice the most hardcore hip hop listener. Today, we wanted to take a look back at all of his albums, and rank them from the worst to the best. He has a fairly solid discography so this wasn't easy to rank once we got beyond the first two or three choices. What T.I. album ranks at no. 1? Is it Trap Muzik? King? Urban Legend? Paper Trail? Read on to find out. Let's get into it.

9. No Mercy (2010)





-Easily the worst and most forgettable album in his catalog. I don't remember much about this album or even a single. When I revisited for this article, I found myself a bit surprised on a couple of tracks, as the album was slightly better than I remembered. I enjoyed the first few tracks (minus the Kanye and Cudi featured track), but the album takes a pretty hard fall after the first 2 or 3 tracks. The Eminem assisted "That's All She Wrote" is a big disappointment, as well as the title track, the Drake assisted "Poppin Bottles", the cringe worthy Rico Love assisted "Lay Me Down", and the Young Dro and Trey Songz featured "Strip", which just feels really generic. I think the thing about this album is that some of the songs that Tip has solo wise aren't bad, but the tracks with features really disappoint overall, which is rare for him. This album isn't horrible, but it's his worst and just so forgettable that I almost forgot it when ranking the albums.

Top 3 Songs 
"How Life Changed"
"Get Back Up"
"Salute"

8. Paperwork (2014)




-I have mixed feelings on this album. I think Tip is back in his element here somewhat, but there are a lot of songs that missed the mark on this album. Those songs include the odd Skylar Grey assisted "New National Anthem" (I know what he was going for, but the song just doesn't work), the Dream featured "Let Your Heart Go (Break My Soul)", the by the numbers Boosie featured "Jet Fuel", the weirdly paced "At Ya Own Risk" with Usher, and the horrible "No Mediocre" with Iggy Azalea. I think he does connect on songs like the major hit with Young Thug "About The Money", the Nipsey Hussle featured "About My Issue", as well as the opening track "King", but overall this album doesn't have enough to be higher on this list. Still, Tip showed glimpses of past glory here and a bit of shine for his evolution, just not enough. He plays it safe on a number of tracks and that affects the quality.

Top 3 Songs 
"On Doe, On Phil"
"About My Issue"
"King"

7. I'm Serious (2001)


-While a lot of fans love this album, I'm not sold on it as a top 5 album in his catalog. It shows the young Tip showcasing his dope boy ambitions and his life in ATL as vivid as he could, but the production (possibly could blame the era) here on this album does tend to miss the mark just as often as it connects. It was a good debut effort and Tip was lyrically solid, but honestly, his flow was off on a few of the songs and some of the songs sounded like a weird attempt for commercial success and it didn't work. When the songs did work on this album, it's because it felt true to what we've known T.I. to be about as an artist on songs like "Chooz U", "Dope Boyz", and "Still Ain't Forgave Myself", which is my favorite song here. Still, I'm Serious is a good album, just not in the upper echelon of T.I. projects.

Top 3 Songs 
"Still Ain't Forgave Myself"
"What's Yo Name"
"Dope Boyz"

6. Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head (2012)




-Inspired by the classic Marvin Gaye album/soundtrack, T.I. delivers on this album. I think this is his most slept on project, as it's one of his most cohesive and solid overall. It saw him go back to that trap sound that he perfected after abandoning it somewhat for the two albums before this one. The only issue I have with this album is that it has a few cringe worthy songs that weigh it down a bit, which is the only reason it misses the top 5. Songs like the Akon assisted "Wonderful Life", the by the numbers "Addresses", the unnecessary autotune "Cruisin", and the weak "Guns and Roses" with Pink on the hook. Still, he finds his form on tracks like "The Way We Ride", "Go Get It", "Trap Back Jumpin", the Lil Wayne assisted "Ball", the Neptunes produced and Cee-Lo featured "Hello", and my favorite "Sorry" with a superb Andre 3000 verse. Overall, this is a pretty good album and a fun listen. It just misses the top 5, but it is still pretty good.

Top 3 Songs 
"Sorry"
"Trap Back Jumpin"
"Hello"

5. T.I. vs T.I.P. (2007)



-A lot of people loved this album and I definitely enjoyed it. It was split into three sections essentially, and while I prefer the T.I.P. section over the T.I. one, this album has good music all around (Act III doesn't really make a difference). I think the true MVP of this album is Mannie Fresh, as he supplies two of the best songs on the entire album with "Big Shit Poppin" and "Da Dopeman", which are favorites of mine personally. The only issues I have with the album is that the Wyclef Jean features are unnecessary and adds nothing to the album. Also, the album is a bit too long. With 18 tracks, cutting off a few songs like the horrible "My Swag", the boring "We Do This", another bad Eminem collaboration "Touchdown", and a few others would have helped the overall quality of it. However, with songs like "My Type", the Busta Rhymes and Alfamega assisted "Hurt", and much more, T.I. vs T.I.P was a victory for the Grand Hustle boss.

Top 3 Songs 
"Big Shit Poppin"
"Da Dopeman"
"My Type"

4. Paper Trail (2008)




-I wasn't the biggest fan of this album when it first dropped. I thought that it was a challenge for Tip and for him to bring it back to writing rhymes on paper again, and as I revisit it now, I enjoyed it much more. He took a more commercial approach with his singles and though I wasn't a fan of those, the album itself was pretty solid overall. On tracks like "Ready For Whatever", "I'm Illy", "No Matter What", "What's Up, What's Haapnin", and a few others, Tip sticks to what he does the best, but his attempts to expand his sound and content works on tracks like the Justin Timberlake assisted "Dead And Gone", the catchy "Whatever You Like", and the posse track "Swagga Like Us" with Jay-Z, Kanye, and Lil Wayne. T.I. managed to find a great balance on this album, and though it isn't perfect or a classic (IMO), it is one of his best.

Top 3 Songs 
"I'm Illy"
"What's Up, What's Haapnin"
"Whatever You Like"

3. King (2006)




-His most successful album essentially (in terms of overall acclaim and sales, Paper Trail is right there with it), this came when Tip was on top of the world. He had vanquished Lil Flip and handily won their beef and had a movie coming out in the theaters as well (ATL). Still, this album was truly a landmark moment in his career and because of that, it's in the top 3. Someone could argue that this might be his best, because it shows Tip in his most comfortable position as a growing hip hop star. With his legal issues seemingly behind him as well as the end of his beefs with Ludacris and Lil Flip, T.I. set out to make hits and sell records. He kicked the album rollout off with the massive hit "What You Know", then followed it up with "Why You Wanna", which might be an iconic single. One of the most interesting songs here is the banging Just Blaze produced "I'm Talkin To You", where T.I. makes one of the hardest subliminal diss songs ever, BUT he never mentions his target. The thought process was that this song was about Lil Wayne, which still resonates now, especially with T.I. making remarks about Jigga being the "Real President Carter" as Wayne was running around touting being the president of Cash Money during this time. Still, it's an interesting track and one of the best songs on the entire album. Other tracks like the UGK sampled and assisted "Front Back", the B.G. and Young Jeezy assisted "I'm Straight", the Mannie Fresh produced "Top Back", and the smooth Neptunes produced "Goodlife" with Pharrell and Common all help to round out a very solid album. Though not the absolute best T.I. album to me, this is honestly in the running and I'm not mad if you have it in the top 2 or at no. 1. T.I. could miss during the 2003-2007 time period. That's a fact.

Top 3 Songs 
"Top Back"
"Front Back"
"I'm Talkin To You"

2. Urban Legend (2004)



-This is honestly my favorite T.I. album. I went to the store and purchased this along with Nas' Street's Disciple and enjoyed both in different ways as a listener. This is the easiest flowing album from Tip, and the production here is probably the best of any album of his, with the exception MAYBE of Trap Muzik (it's honestly a tie to me). This album was really T.I. in his prime, kicking the album off with a solid intro that features Run DMC, and continuing into the solid "Motivation" track. The biggest single on the album and one of the best songs is the iconic "U Don't Know Me", where Tip floats over a booming production and creates a true hit. My favorite of the entire album? The Neptunes produced and Pharrell assisted "Freak Though", which is one of the smoothest tracks in T.I.'s career overall. One could not forget the Jay-Z sampled hit "Bring Em Out", which is yet another iconic song in the T.I. catalog. Another song that I enjoy here is the P$C featured "Limelight", which has one of my favorite beats on the entire album. Overall, this album is really great, and I'd consider it to be a near classic or a true southern hip hop classic. Urban Legend is possibly T.I.'s best album, and it's only no. 2 because the no. 1 album has been stamped as a true southern hip hop classic. Still, this album is amazing and shows Tip in his prime.

Top 3 Songs 
"Freak Though"
"U Don't Know Me"
"Limelight"

1. Trap Muzik (2003)




-It's hard to argue against this album as the best T.I. album. It's the album that garnered him the most attention at the time and opened the door for his eventual super stardom. This album is about as flawless as you can get from T.I., as production from DJ Toomp, David Banner, Jazze Pha, Kanye West, and more helped capture the soundtrack for T.I.'s coming of age and his hunger. He was so hungry on this album, searching to make street anthems, songs that the trap would love, anthems for the ladies, and just real life songs that appeals to all listeners. He succeeded the best on this album with a balanced effort, kicking off with the title track and the really dope "I Can't Quit". During this time, T.I. and Ludacris were in the early stages of their beef, and the shots are aplenty on this album if you listen close enough. Tracks like "Be Easy", "No More Talk", the soulful and superb Kanye produced "Doin' My Job", the huge hits "24's" and "Rubberband Man", as well as the songs for the ladies like the Jazze Pha assisted "Let's Get Away" and the Kanye produced and Zapp sampled "Let Me Tell You Something", really make this a classic album. T.I. really made a near flawless project and there's really not a song here that I dislike on this album. Revisiting this album reminds me of just how great it is. In case you forgot, Trap Muzik is a classic and the best T.I. album. Simple enough.

Top 3 Songs 
"Doin' My Job"
"Be Easy
"Let's Get Away"

You'll see that the Us or Else album and EP aren't included here on my list, but I don't consider this to be an official T.I. album, and the same goes for "Da Nic" as well. These 9 projects are what I consider to be T.I.'s albums, and hopefully I've ranked them as accurately as possible. Long Live The King.

-True 

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