Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head


Smells like teen spirit.

Clifford “TI” Harris is, as they say in hip hop parlance, about that life.

Despite a slew of successful albums and hit songs, reality show stardom and a genuinely happy family, it is the call of the street that registers most earnestly in his being. He is trouble, man, as the album’s title proclaims – of that his lengthy record of run-ins with the law will attest to. But it’s the follow up statement, Heavy is the head that rankles as mere bluster.

Trouble Man, I’m always in trouble man, is the hollow boasting of a petty hustler who can’t keep his hands clean. There’s none of the introspection promised by the album sleeve sloganeering – like the junkie customers beating a path to his sellers’ market, TI is a sucker for thrills. He positively revels in the nihilism on Ball alongside fellow big-spender Lil Wayne on the best track on the album, an infectious mish-mash of bounce and club-ready dance synths. ‘Got a bottle, got a model, got a Molly, got a blunt’, harks the chorus, and it’s a topic TI seldom strays from. He revisits that theme on the darker Go Get It, a night-crawler of a tune.

It’s a ride to nowhere, however cool TI makes it sound, and along the way, he picks up some famous friends for the trip. R Kelly, doing his best to channel his famous Biggie collaboration, puts some scorched soul in Can You Learn?, while CeeLo Green, who can’t be anything but quirky, livens up the hater-dismissing Hello. And then suddenly, without much warning, TI switches lanes to team up with Pink on the song Guns and Roses. It’s a grown-up tale about a doomed relationship, and it probably won’t make any waves on the pop charts, but it’s an interesting insight into what TI could do if he let out the adult coralled by all this teenage trifling. – Witbooi Slim