The Underrated: T.I.'s Trap Muzik and Urban Legend

By @SpeedontheBeat

T.I., in his early days, was an underrated artist. In some ways, I feel that this goes without saying. However, I've talked to a slew of people who consider themselves fans of Clifford "T.I." Harris that've avoided his first earlier work, potentially because of its brash nature. That's an incredible disservice to the artist, as his earlier work sets up the growth (for better or worse) in his later works.

While 2003's Trap Muzik isn't T.I.'s first full-length album (that honor goes to 2001's I'm Serious), Trap Muzik was, essentially, the mainstream's introduction to "the trap" and opened up the floodgates for artists from (Young) Jeezy in 2005 to Future today. It was, as mentioned, a brash album. Its introduction's chorus features the chant "this ain't no album, this ain't no game! This is trap" and went into details about, well, trapping, the dangers of slanging and banging, and, inversely, the glories of hustling.

It was an album that, additionally, aided in the renaissance of Atlanta music. It wasn't crunk, it wasn't the jokey-yet-complex lyrics of, say, Ludacris, and it wasn't overly conscious like Organized Noize or OutKast. Nope. Trap Muzik was unapologetic in its approach to dangerous topics. And through that approach, more artists felt free to embrace their inner thug and their previously dormant trapper. Without Trap Muzik making the impact it did, it's possible that there'd be no Young Thug, Migos, Future, et cetera. I'm not arguing whether that's good or bad. I'm just stating facts.

Additionally, Trap Muzik featured songs such as "Let's Get Away" and "I Still Luv You," soulful rap ballads that showed that there was more to T.I. than just the trapper. With 2004's Urban Legend, we got this and more. For with Urban Legend, T.I. made claim to a throne that he, in some ways, still holds: King of the South.

Urban Legend was grander. It was cockier. It featured artists such as Pharrell, Lil' Kim, Mannie Fresh, and other artists who, a year or two prior, you wouldn't have seen on a T.I. album. If Trap Muzik was the introduction to trapping, Urban Legend served as the final exam for the introduction. Also, it served as an album that went in on a few artists (Lil' Flip, Ludacris, etc.). However, while I still favor Trap Muzik because it sounds more raw than its sequel, there were some classic songs on this album. For instance, "ASAP," "U Don't Know Me," and others. I mean, you can't tell me that you don't listen to "ASAP" and want to scrap with someone who looks at you funny or do a bunch of off-the-wall shit.

Overall, the albums are underrated and serve as a great introduction to trap music and T.I. as an artist, as they showcase the best qualities of both the genre and the artist.


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