Despite his family man imagery and relative crossover success, T.I.'s image is still linked to his nefarious come-up. This is due in part to a recent jail stint, but also to the fact that for all the (excellent) Justin Timberlake collabs and movie cameos, he remains a fiercely compelling rapper. Hollywood, you can have Common, but don't take T.I.
Trouble Man is his eighth record and first since being released from jail in mid-2011. In that time Tip's earned potshots from other rappers and guested on more than a few tracks, and all this has served as warm-up for a record that finely straddles his gruff past and glitzier present. DJ Toomp buoys T.I. on Trap Back Jumpin. An incandescent collaboration with André 3000 balances out an unfortunate Pink cameo. A$AP Rocky and Meek Mill contemporize the record for the blog and street-rap sets respectively. But, really, we're here for that sleek, lacerating T.I. flow.
Top track: Sorry, featuring André 3000