Album Review

T.I. 'No Mercy'

December 6, 2010

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The original title of T.I.’s latest was “King Uncaged,’’ but after he was sent back to prison for the third time in November, a change was in order. The retitled “No Mercy’’ often sounds at war with itself; the tone of the album feels all wrong — part of it exults in hedonistic impulses while other parts are acts of contrition and pleas for sympathy. Some of the best tracks strut with the undeniable T.I. charm and bravado, including “Welcome to the World,’’ “How Life Changed,’’ and the Dr. Luke-produced “That’s All She Wrote,’’ with Eminem. But the title track, produced by The-Dream, finds T.I. ludicrously comparing himself to Jesus as a hook repeats “you’ve got to let me go.’’ It’s well crafted, but some of T.I.’s best lines obscure the tracks’ fuzzy thinking. (Dude, just don’t carry guns or do ecstasy.) “Get Back Up’’ (with Chris Brown!) is a rebuke to finger-pointers and a shallow appeal for redemption. “Castle Walls’’ has a terrific Christina Aguilera vocal and shows introspection, but throughout this disc there’s an unsettling celebration of the untamed life without any reflection on the consequences T.I. often laments. (Out tomorrow) KEN CAPOBIANCO

ESSENTIAL “How Life Changed’’