Announced last night via press release: T.I.’s seventh studio album — originally King Unleashed, but now sensibly retitled No Mercy — will hit stores December 7, with guest spots from Kanye, Eminem, The-Dream, and Christina Aguilera, and production from such notables as Dr. Luke, Danja, and Jim Jonsin. The video for lead single “Get Back Up” is out, too, and it makes one thing abundantly clear: As one might expect, T.I. did not manage to drastically alter the musical direction of his erstwhile see-me-bounce-back-from-prison album in the few weeks since it was announced he was returning to prison.
And while the harmless motivation-rap of “Get Back Up” is generically minded enough to work for the wider audience, anyone that’s been paying even a modicum of attention to T.I.’s personal life won’t be able to hold back the yuks for lines like “Apologies to my fans and my closest friends / for letting you down, I won’t take you down this road again” and “I admit, I’ve done some dumb shit / disappointed everybody, try not to hold that against me” and “never again, partner / you can put my life on that.” Here’s the thing: The first time T.I. was sent to prison, it was for purchasing weapons, and seeing as the dude witnessed his best friend’s murder, there are mitigating factors there. This second go-around in the big house, though, is for a probation violation via drug possession, and that’s got to be tougher for fans to accept. And even having black sheep Chris Brown hang out behind you can’t deflect attention away from that.