Rating: 7 / 10
The stirring horns on the intro set the stage perfectly for the king of the South to make his return. Legal woes have plagued T.I. throughout his entire career and put a halt on any kind of momentum the rapper has gained; and at some points, he had garnered quite a bit. But hopefully, that’s all behind him and we’re back to business as usual with his latest mixtape, F*ck Da City Up.
The entire mixtape is filled with features, like the title track featuring Young Jeezy. Being that it’s the first song on the project, it sets the tone for the entire project: ball on everybody and anybody in sight. “Loud Mouth” features the brash 2 Chainz and has an equally cocky instrumental to go with it. Meek Mill makes a solid appearance on “Who What When,” and seemingly out of nowhere, Nelly appears on “This Time of Night” over a smooth guitar loop.
The whole tape has sort of a 2007-2008 feel to it, with the anthem-style songs, synth-heavy beats, and T.I. seeming to be on top of the world, but it works. One thing that does remind you that you’re now in 2012 is the B.o.B feature on “Piss’n On Your Ego.” This Grand Hustle one-two punch is becoming of the strongest combinations in Hip-Hop, and this arrogant cut shows both in top-form, especially Bobby Ray who lets loose more than one quotable in his verse (“Got a drunk b*tch on my mattress, doing backflips, gymnastics”). In the same sort of rapping-just-to-rap style, Pusha T makes a visit on “I’ll Show You”– the only sample-based instrumental here. He too makes his presence felt with his lyrics (“I over-cane, I’m novacane, I Frank Ocean that fish scale”).
But the biggest collaborations come in “Pimp,” and “Popped Off.” The first features the late Pimp C, and he’s the initial voice you hear on the song. It’s a bit eerie, and posthumous features are always risky, but this one does more good than harm. The latter is produced by, and features Dr. Dre. The triumphant beat utilizes warm horns and heavy slaps and is good, but not great. The collaboration figured to be a bit bigger than what actually materialized.
After everything you’ve read, it would seem that F*ck Da City Up was an extremely successful project. But the mixtape has 19 songs, and is packed with filler material. Tip could have heavily trimmed the fat here; “Hot Wheelz”, “On Purpose”, and “In a Nutshell” are all forgettable. “Harry Potter” and “I See Ghosts” are both plagued by yawn-inducing features and “Oh Yeah” features Trey Songz and a surprisingly pedestrian beat by Just Blaze. The intro and outro don’t do anything and the interlude with Young Jeezy hollering for two minutes makes this whole project drag on, and that’s the biggest problem. In addition, most of the songs are over four minutes long, and the subject matter never changes. If the mixtape was six songs leaner, it would be great.
All critiques aside, T.I. did exactly what he intended to do here – garner a buzz. There are more than enough quality cuts here to get people excited about his upcoming album, as T.I. has proved that he still has enough flare for this game (not to mention it’s better than his last mixtape).