Verdict: 2.5 / 5
Trouble Man Heavy Is the Head is T.I.’s eight album and features masters Ceelo Green and Andre 3000. With such impeccable talents on board does it deliver? Misdemeanour and T.I.’s penchant for strife constitute the album’s main themes. ‘The Introduction’ samples Marvin Gaye’s ‘Trouble Man but the soulful tones of Gaye are more interesting than T.I.’s lacklustre rhymes, so we’re off to a shaky start Mr T. ‘The Introduction’, ‘G Season’, Trap Back Jumping’ are bland gangster rap tunes that meander along without any flavour ‘Trap Back Jumping’ does have one of T.I.’s better rhyme sections but it’s not enough to make the track stand out.
Gangster rap clichés are rife on the album and on ‘Wildside’ the usual fodder of weed and cops are mentioned. Only the presence of ASAP Rocky saves it from complete oblivion. A culpable offense on the album is the excessive length of the tracks. By song four it feels like you’ve listened for half an hour and when songs are not strong enough length becomes a serious problem. ‘Ball’ a single off the record, has a pop and dance quality but it has a lame, repetitive chorus. Andre 3000 makes his cameo on ‘Sorry’ and he out does himself. Even T.I. admitted in an interview that Andre outshone him. This song is far more focused and if more of the songs had this consistency T.I. would be in business. ‘Sorry’ is soulful and funky, Andre lets rip midway and delivers a sublime rhyme scheme.
‘Guns and Roses’ features Pink, who delivers a pretty yet powerful chorus. What’s interesting about this song is its closeness to ‘Canon in D’ by Johan Pachelbel the German composer whose piece is commonly used in weddings, ‘Guns and Roses’ arpeggio sounds almost identical to the famous work. Naturally this is one of the best songs on the album, Pink’s lovely tone and a rich melody coupled with the strength of a Pachelbel infused arpeggio make for interesting listening. The song is cheesy though and T.I.’s tone and style just ain’t smooth and gentle enough for the song to work completely.
Ceelo Green finally makes his presence known on ‘Hello’ another pop rap song that despite Green’s satisfactory input cannot mask an unsatisfying collaboration. Pharrell Williams’ is a co writer and Ceelo’s parts were clearly written by Williams but it’s somewhat disappointing to feature two titans but still come up short. Even Akon makes a show and sings the chorus off Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ on ‘Wonderful Life’. Akon’s nasally tone is a slight offense to Elton but maybe he is flattered, who knows. Gangster rap clichés are legion on the album so it comes as no surprise when Mr T. looks to God on the maudlin toned, ‘Hallelujah’. The famous version by Leonard Cohen is female sung here but sounds tacky in this less than sincere effort on T’s part to show his more reflective side.
There is trouble on this album that’s for sure, it lacks inventiveness and has too much attitude and not enough substance. It’s riddled with clichés; the gangster rap angle might be for show but when coupled with weak material it’s hard to stomach. Moments of genuine inspiration are minimal, for fans this album will suffice but as a musical statement it’s not up to scratch.