T.I. went through big ups and big downs after the release of 2003's Trap Muzik. Right after watching two successive singles -- "24s" and "Rubber Band Man" -- become the most successful hits of his career, he was put behind bars for violating probation that resulted from a 1997 arrest on cocaine distribution and the manufacturing and distribution of a controlled substance. He received a three-year prison sentence, only to be granted a work-release program that allowed him to continue making music (he proceeded to record several albums' worth of material). Then there was the MC's surprise performance at a concert for an Atlanta radio station, where he avenged the alleged shots Lil' Flip took at him while he was incarcerated. And that hardly covers all the events that transpired during the 15 months that led to Urban Legend, the follow-up to Trap Muzik. With all that chaos surrounding T.I., it's disappointing to hear him retracing his steps, rewriting old lines, developing with little progress. At the negative end, there's "Countdown," a flimsy rehash of "Rubber Band Man." At the positive end, there's "Bring Em Out" -- a rowdy Swizz Beatz production with blaring synth horns and a sampled Jay-Z (from "What More Can I Say") acting as hype man, in which T.I. rides the beat while bouncing off it at the same time. Some of his most incisive moments are delivered when the mood is somber, as on "Prayin for Help," where he expresses pain and regret without dealing in clichés. Mannie Fresh, the Neptunes, Jazze Pha, and Scott Storch also contribute beats; some are perfectly satisfactory, none are highlight-reel worthy. Perhaps it's asking too much to expect T.I. to show as much growth here as he did on Trap Muzik, but -- as is the case with Jadakiss -- remaining patient for that classic album (and you know he has one in him) is getting tough.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman