Game – Jesus Piece & T.I. – Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head
2012’s music calendar has given us a lot of exciting release dates for debuts and comebacks alike. We’ve already had Rick Ross, Nas, 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar and Meek Mill release solid albums this year but it’s two late album releases that I have highly anticipated to cap off the year.
Although we’re approaching the final days of 2012, there is still so much more to offer in the form of albums and even mixtapes. Wiz Khalifa released his sophomore attempt O.N.I.F.C. that reached number two on the Billboard charts, selling 148,000 copies in the first week and Chief Keef’s debut Finally Rich is still to come. Closing off the year with a bang, Game and T.I. have mouths salivating for their December releases – Jesus Piece and Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head, respectively. Both rappers have etched their names in Hip-Hop history each for different reasons but no one can deny that Game and T.I. deserve a spot in your top 10. Lyricism, energy and consistency has provided these two such longevity in what can often be a cruel industry.
In my opinion, each of Game‘s previous four albums have all been successes so I didn’t expect much less from this latest release but it could be his standout work yet. Game has been persistently promoting Jesus Piece of recent, whether it be interviews, social media or the purchase of oversized jewellery.
Game, who has never been shy of critics and has often been outspoken on many topics other rappers would usually shy away from, was the topic of much scrutiny when he released images of what was to be his deluxe album cover. The image featured a depiction of a black Jesus Christ with a Piru Blood gang bandana and a chain with a jesus piece hanging from it. Despite backlash from church representatives of blasphemy, this only gave the rapper an even better platform allowing him the room to promote to a much wider audience.
Game released a string of throwaway tracks for free download on his ‘jesuspiece’ Soundcloud in which he titled #SundayService. Seven tracks were released, a Bone Thugs-n-Harmony reunion on the Celebration remix – which is in fact a refix of their old school classic ‘1st of tha Month’ – was one of them. He released six others with features from the likes of Scarface, Wale and Master P. These songs were good enough quality to be on the best of albums leading me to believe this album was due to be a treat.
Game wasn’t ever tight with his label budget, spending millions on recording mixtapes he only releases as a free download. Jesus Piece has a star-studded tracklist with 21 features on just 13 tracks. The title track reminds me of Late Registration’s ‘Crack Music’ where the roles were reversed as Kanye West features on the hook this time and Common delivers one of his most accomplished feature verses yet, where he even utters the adlib “uhh” – much more subtly than Ricky Rozay would. It’s surprising that with such a plethora of artists featured – the calibre of the likes of J. Cole, Lil’ Wayne and Kendrick Lamar – the Compton rapper’s voice never gets drowned out.
Game has never been the one to preach in the past but by the sounds of it he could join Pastor Ma$e on the pulpits. By Game stepping out of his comfort zone – of rapping on gangster issues – he makes Jesus Piece the jewel it is. This album has a more conscious feel to it as Game touches on topics I wouldn’t have necessarily expected from him. His 21 features don’t even feel clustered as he overpowers them all. Jesus Piece is well structured, sticking to the plan of creating a church of Rap and Game has created the bible.
During his ‘trouble man’ period T.I. has had highly publicised run-ins with the law, doing prison bids twice. Such distractions often end rappers career’s as they struggle to pick up the pace they had prior. I haven’t had much interest in T.I.‘s career since his 2008 album ‘Paper Trail’ but there has been a distinctive consistency about T.I.‘s music in 2012 and I have to admit that I’ve been impressed. It was when I heard his promotional singles ‘Love This Life’ and ‘Go Get It’ that I knew I would love this album. I can’t speak for others but personally this is the return to form I have been waiting for from T.I..
As I would have expected, Atlanta’s oft-overlooked hero the self-proclaimed King, T.I. introduces his Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head album to a sample of Marvin Gaye’s song of the same title ‘Trouble Man’. Unlike Game, T.I. only enlists the services of eight features on this 16 track LP. The blend of new and old T.I. is perfect with features from former Grand Hustle labelmate Meek Mill and production from Pharrell Williams – who produced his first ever single ‘I’m Serious’ in 2001 with Beenie Man – on the track ‘Hello’ that features Cee-Lo Green.
With such a catalogue of music, something you’d expect from T.I.‘s eighth album is confidence – which I must say is at an all time high with more trash talk than an NBA game. One thing it seems from his raps though is that T.I. will never learn. You could argue that it’s just music but it can get very confusing when rappers act bi-polar. From his calm television persona in ‘Family Hustle’ to his gangster, trapstar songs like ‘Trap Back Jumpin’, sometimes I just don’t know where I stand with T.I..
The standout track on the album for me has to be ‘Sorry’ which features the sought-after André 3000, the beat and lyrics fit together superbly. These are two Atlanta greats going back to back, Hip-Hop legends in their own right. Never the less, André 3000 comes out triumphant this time with a memorable verse addressing issues over Outkast’s hiatus as a group. Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head balances the sound of vintage TIP perfectly, cohesively mixing it with the more mainstream sound of his biggest hit to date ‘Whatever You Like’.
One thing is for sure though, you can’t make your ‘Album Of The Year’ lists without giving these two Hip-Hop veterans a listen.
Lakeem Greaves (@iamLAKZ)