Release Date: Dec 7, 2010
Record label: Atlantic
T.I.'s seventh album was supposed to be called King Uncaged. Oops. The Atlanta rapper was released from prison in December 2009 after serving nine months on federal weapons charges. Then, in September, he was arrested for drug possession, and went right back to jail for violating his parole. King ….
No Mercy was supposed to be T.I.?s first album after getting out of prison — until he was recently hauled back for violating probation. The self-proclaimed ”King of the South” addresses his troubles on tracks like ”Welcome to the World” and ”Castle Walls.” He remains unrepentant, though: On ”Get Back Up,” he arrogantly apologizes for being human rather than for his crimes. That crown must be getting heavy.
Originally, No Mercy was going to be called King Uncaged. Its cover was going to feature T.I., in front of a stark white background, sunk deep into a wicker throne, a lion standing by his side. King Uncaged, an album we'll now presumably never hear, was to be Tip's first after he completed almost a year in prison, finishing up a gun sentence that could've sent him away for a whole lot longer.
The first thing you need to know about No Mercy is that it’s not the album T.I. planned to release at this juncture. T.I. didn’t plan to be back in jail, either. But here we are. Ever since the rapper was released from prison in March, he has been promising King Uncaged, an album that would ….
It’s interesting how, in a genre ostensibly rooted in storytelling, rappers like T.I. can endlessly strive for middlebrow success without investing any of their own experience. T.I. is a guy who, in the course of the last three years, has been busted for buying silenced machine pistols from an undercover agent, starred in his own rehabilitation-themed reality show, spent months living in a halfway house, talked a man down from a 22-story building, and recently returned to prison for violating his probation.
One of the less likable tracks on this consistently misfiring album, which was recorded while T.I. was under house arrest for weapons charges (he's currently back in the slammer for probation violation), is Get Back Up. It claims the Atlanta MC is sorry for his misdeeds – but not that sorry – and finishes by painting him as the real victim ("As soon as you fall down, all the haters pass judgment").
No Mercy bursts out of the gate with a castoff from the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy sessions. “Welcome to the World” carries all the intentions of an introductory track, but feels more like a mid-sprint detour. It’s something that keeps coming back to me as I listen to this album over and over, because only T.I. vs.