The L.I.B.R.A.


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The L.I.B.R.A. Review

by Fred Thomas

Trap pioneer T.I. was one of the major players of Atlanta's ever-expanding rap scene as early as the start of the 2000s, slowly building from self-released mixtapes and regional airplay to number one albums. Over 20 years into his run, 11th studio album The L.I.B.R.A. finds T.I. joined by a host of talent from the waves of rap that followed him, all joining forces to celebrate his hard-earned legend status. The title itself, in addition to referring to T.I.'s star sign, is an acronym for "The Legend Is Back Running Atlanta," which gives a fair assessment of the album's tone and central themes. T.I. reflects on his accomplishments and contributions to rap on almost every track, finding a synthesis of old flows and new perspectives on songs like "Pardon," an elastic back-and-forth between T.I.'s bouncing ball meter and Lil Baby's slippery wordplay. The 20-track project includes plenty of guest stars, ranging from spoken interludes from Rapsody and Ernestine Johnson Morrison to featured verses from Snoop Dogg, Young Thug, 42 Dugg, Benny the Butcher, and many, many others. John Legend even sings the hook on the triumphant "We Did It Big." The L.I.B.R.A. tries to cover a lot of ground, swerving between R&B smoothness on "Moon Juice," the old-school beat flip of "Hypno," and interesting experiments like the collision of sentimental songwriting and trap drums on "Pantone Blue." The production is strong regardless of the style pursued on individual tracks, but the best moments of The L.I.B.R.A. come when T.I. is rapping over the kind of solid trap bangers that remind us of his best work from earlier albums. The entire record is a victorious display of self-celebration, but the impact of T.I.'s years in the rap game are felt most directly on tracks where he's matching wit and lyrical dexterity with rappers from the generation that directly followed him.

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