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T.I. vs. T.I.P. (Atlantic)

A lot has already been written about hip-hop's most anticipated disc of the year. But not much of it is complimentary. Sure, the split-personality concept, which basically plays out the much-discussed divide between moving units and keeping it street, is totally obtuse. But give Atlanta rapper T.I. (and his alter ego T.I.P.) credit for acknowledging the need to try something out of the ordinary, because it's hard to believe the same effort was expended on the actual music.

What made T.I.'s King one of 2006's biggest successes was the killer production, led by DJ Toomp's "What You Know" and the track's pulsating synths. To say nothing here comes close is putting it mildly. With utterly wretched tracks from Wyclef, Eminem, and Just Blaze, T.I. vs. T.I.P. finds T.I. regurgitating his usual routines about fame and its discontents, and coming to life only on the three "Acts" of the supposed psychodrama. By the end, the real question is not whether T.I. or T.I.P. emerges victorious -- but which one of them is to blame?

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