Any artist releasing an album so late in the year should send off warning bells since too many publications will be too busy to review the album, smack dab in the middle of compiling year-end lists which will most likely fail to include such albums… and whaddaya know,Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head sucks.
I can’t help but compare it to Big Boi’s equally lukewarm-received Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors released earlier that year, since both artists are veteran rappers hailing from the South who have been on the fringes to the frontlines of pop rap (with Big Boi, this has been true since 2000’s “Ms. Jackson” from Stankonia and with recall that T.I. virtually disappeared behind Rihanna and Justin Timberlake on “Live Your Life” and “Dead and Gone” on 2008’s Paper Trail). However, I’d much rather prefer Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, because Big Boi’s inclusion of indie electronic artists like Little Dragon and Wavve are, at the very least, more interesting than T.I.’s posse of popstars and because Big Boi at least had the good sense to keep songs at the standard 3-4 minute length, whereas a lot of these songs are inexplicably long (“Can You Learn” in particular, with its decent hook and message, seems intent to never end).
Let’s see … Cee Lo Green seems intent on ruining his hard-earned household name after the disastrous Christmas abomination earlier that year on “Hello,” not to be confused with the track with the same name on 2006’s King. (either this is an consciously made allusion that’s flown past my head or prison has addled T.I.’s brain) while Pharrell hands in the most generic beat I’ve ever heard. To make matters worse, there’s an unbearable bro shouting “’Ey!”’s every other line (there was one doing the same on “What You Know,” but tht added to the experience instead of detracting from it). Then, on the album’s last two tracks, the interpolation of classic songs, from “Your Song” (the over-autotuned voice of Akon is never a substitute for the real thing) and “Hallelujah,” both without a shred of subtlety, are never acceptable in songs not sung in a high school talent show, and actively make me want to cause physical harm to all involved. Elsewhere, “Wildlife” has to have one of the most boring choruses and skits and blaring synth beat (should’ve focussed more on the piano and soul sprinkles) I’ve ever heard, and A$AP Rocky, who normally drops at least one quotable (regardless of whether or not good or bad, is at least quotable) per verse, doesn’t.
Grab “The Introduction,” which rides its Marvin Gaye sample all the way to the bank; “Ball,” whose beat is so infectious that if you’re drunk (or on any/all of the drugs that the hook endorses), you can look over Lil Wayne’s stupidity; “Sorry,” because unlike T.I., Andre 3000 can actually rap and raps about actual things (in this case, an apology to Big Boi). And if I were being kind, “Trap Back Jumpin’” and “Addresses” are decent if disposable trap rap stuff.