We’ve seen this story before: T.I. regains his freedom, releases a few buzz singles, and then delivers a mixtape as he preps his next studio album. Last time, it was Fuck A Mixtape in May of 2010; now, the Atlanta native has returned with a similarly titled tape, but with a revamped mission: to F*ck Da City Up.
As has been his clear task since coming home and getting back on wax, with F*ck Da City Up, T.I. is set on making sure his claims as a member of rap royalty are once again indisputable. Employing his impressively effortless yet refined flows and immodest rhymes, the Bankhead bred rapper’s comeback case is a strong one.
The tape is feature-heavy, for sure—there are 21 for the 19 tracks—but there’s nary a cut on which Tip is overshadowed. Even so, most guests manage to bring something of value to the table. The finest showing comes with Pusha T’s “I’ll Show You” verse, but the inclusion of some of ATL’s newer talents (Future on “I See Ghost’s”; Travis Porter on “Hot Wheels”; and Trouble on “On Purpose”) are also notable. Young Jeezy (“F*ck Da City Up”), 2 Chainz (“Loud Mouth”), B.o.B (“Piss’n On Your Ego”) and Meek Mill “Who What When”) all add their distinct flavor, as well.
Unfortunately, some of the lady-related songs (“Pimp,” featuring Pimp C and Too $hort and “This Time of Night” alongside Nelly) miss the mark.
The project’s strongest moment is when Tip gives himself four minutes alone with the beat on “Oh Yeah” (the track does include background vocals from Trey Songz, but they merge into the beat and become a part of it, more than a stand alone feature). While choruses prove to be a hiccup on some of the tape’s tracks, the Grand Hustle head honcho’s hook on the Just Blaze-produced banger is catchy and well put together, and his verses remain steller. On the whole, his lyrics aren’t as sharp and full of conviction here as they have been on recent leaks (“Spend It (Remix),” “Magic (Remix),” “Niggas In Paris (Remix)” and “I’m Flexin’” to name a few), but he certainly flashes some of the brilliance that makes his one of the game’s best.
In addition to Just, T.I. secures production from T-Minus, Hit-Boy, Toomp, and Dr. Dre (who also kicks a verse on “Popped Off”). Still, on the whole, the beats on the offering lack some of the luster to match the rapper’s rhymes.
“Caught a case, do a bid, they say shawty washed up,” he spits of his current situation on “Oh Yeah.” Though F*ck Da City Up isn’t a flawless compilation, T.I. again proves that such slights are far from the truth. —Adam Fleischer