As of last week, it’s been 19 years since T.I. released his debut album I’m Serious. In that time, T.I. has been through a bunch of different career phases: Hungry young gunslinger, dominant Southern overlord, crossover pop-rap star, label-boss mogul. Sometime in the last few years, T.I. slipped into wily elder-statesman mode so seamlessly that most of us didn’t even notice it happening. These days, when T.I. does track with younger generations of Atlanta rap stars, he sounds like a wise and arrogant uncle. It rules.
Tomorrow, T.I. will release the excellently titled new album The L.I.B.R.A (The Legend Is Back Running Atlanta). We’ve already posted first single “Ring,” a pretty great team-up with Tip’s frequent collaborator Young Thug, and the album will also feature a wide and slightly baffling range of guests, including Rick Ross, Snoop Dogg, Jeremih, and Jadakiss. This might be the first album ever to feature both John Legend and Benny The Butcher.
Today, T.I. has teamed up with current Atlanta king Lil Baby on a new single called “Pardon.” The two have a nice chemistry. Over a skittery beat from producers Hitmaka and June James, T.I. locks into an effortlessly complicated flow, calling back to key moments from his history and shouting out DMX. Lil Baby gets into stride, too, talking about wearing two million dollars of jewelry at an interview. T.I. is 15 years older than Lil Baby, and I love how those generational distinctions don’t matter so much in rap these days. Listen to “Pardon” below.
The L.I.B.R.A (The Legend Is Back Running Atlanta) is out 10/16 on Grand Hustle.