Tuesday, July 3, 2007

T.I. Is The Lennox Lewis Of Rap

Well, today is July 3rd. The day that Atlantic Records has been waiting on. The day that is supposed to belong to the most anticipated rap release of 2007. Yes, today Clifford Harris Jr.'s fifth solo album T.I. vs. T.I.P. finally hit shelves.

Too bad it hit the internet last week and has been getting shitted on in various chat room forums and hip hop websites ever since. I even heard that one of the biggest rap mags (which he has graced the cover of thrice) gave it a Mediocre rating--ouch! I've listened to it myself, and I tend to agree, its far from his best stuff. I've never been the BIGGEST T.I. fan per se, but I've liked most of his stuff over the years since I'm Serious. I ain't gonna lie, I had to warm up to him like everyone else after that "King of the South" stuff back in '01. I was DJing college parties around that time I was always like "damn, why are these freshmen so goo goo gaa gaa, over this dude?" But after my homeboy Dre (whose opinion I deeply respect) crowned him "his new nigga" I had to give buddy a chance. From there Cliff started dropping those In Da Streetz CDs, and I have to say. I was impressed from that point on up until last year.

When Cliff dropped KING. last year, everybody was going crazy over the shit. It went gold in a week, and he had a movie coming out at the same time. Honestly, to this day, I think 250,000 mah fuckas went out buying that shit becuase they thought it was the ATL soundtrack, but who am I?

Anyways, I listened to the KING. album, and it was good, very good. But, when everybody started crowning him the KING of rap literally, I was like damn really? I guess I had a hard time looking at dude as a king, because I met him when he was a pauper. I met him when he running with KP, doing cameos in Youngbloodz videos and dropping verses on Shaft soundtracks and P.A. albums. I met him when he was freestyling on 97.5 against I-20. I met him when he was posted up in Buckhead on Saturday night, humbly insisting that I'd meet his homeboys P$C, because they are on his album too. I met him when he was doing shows for free at Fort Valley State University's spring concert. I don't know, but I still have a hard time referring to him as a king of anysort, but not just because of the reasons I just rattled off, but because....really, who else is around to challenge for the crown?

I kinda look at Cliff as the Lennox Lewis of this rap shit. Here's what I mean:

When Lennox started making a name for himself in the early 90's as a professional boxer. He wasn't very high on the totem pole. You still had guys like Tyson, Holyfield, Bowe, Foreman and a couple other respectable talents in the sport. So, you had a guy like Lennox stuck in the middle. Coming up in a era where boxing was past its prime with Ali, Frazier, Holmes, Foreman (again) and a few other cats--but looking pretty good for the next few years with Holyfield an'nem. Lennox didnt fight Tyson, Holyfield, Bowe or Foreman at their peaks though. He beat Tyson when he was on his last leg professionally and personally. He had a draw with old ass Holyfield in 99 and barely beat him eight months later. He never fought Bowe. One, because Bowe didnt grant him a shot after Lennox challenged him on live on the air after he upset Holyfield in '92 and the WBC stripped Bowe of the title, practically handing it to Lewis. And two, because Bowe wound up going to prison, fighting for entirely different reasons {laugh track}. Lewis didnt fight Foreman either. Lewis' best known performances are against Razor Ruddock (remember him?) and Tony Tucker (who?).

Cliff also came up at time when "greats" were gone, but the future was looking pretty decent. Big and Pac were dead. KRS and Kane weren't dropping relevant material. But, you had Nas and Jay battling, Eminem was wrecking shop while Jadakiss and Luda were making a little noise. But still, Cliff, like Lennox, wasnt very high on the totem pole. So, in essence, none of the big dogs were paying him toooo much attention. But then, your boy started winning a couple rounds. Dropping mixtapes, getting industry co-signs from Diddy, Pharell and Kanye (who were just producers at the time). Then, he scored a sizeable knock out against Lil Flip, who at the time was a pretty formidable contender, but he was no heavyweight.

At this stage, both would also find out what it was like to be put on their backs. Lennox was knocked out by Oliver McCall in '94, while T.I. was manhandled by Ludacris in '04 on Young Buck's "Stomp."

However, both fighters would bounce back, but with questionable victories. Lennox came back, beat a couple fighters to get some titles. But one of his victories was overshadowed when his opponent (McCall again), pretty much gave up halfway through the fight and started crying in the ring. T.I. bounced back with his Urban Legend album, which, track for track, in my opinion was just about equal to his oppenent, Ludacris', Red Light District album. However, some would say the sucess of Urban Legend was due to T.I. drastically switching his sparring style to radio friendly.

After those victories is when it starts to get really shaky. At this time, both men, in my opinion were almost handed their crowns. Not discounting any hard work and sacrifices they made, but, they were handed crowns in a time where there weren't that many contenders to begin with. People started saying that Lennox was one of the best ever, because he was dominating his opponents. Same was being said about T.I., especially when KING. went gold in one week. But really, where was the competition? Like I stated earlier, Lennox was beating "the greats of his era" when they were broken down. When T.I. got his crown, Kane was too old (hell, didn't T.I. perform in a tribute to him on VH1?) and Jay was retired. But, both men, happy to be bestowed their honors, carried their titles with class and dignity.

But, you know there had to be a knockout punch waiting in the wings.

Right when Lennox was getting comfortable at the top, he got knocked out by Hasim Rahman. And now, T.I., with his disapointing T.I. vs. T.I.P album is experiencing a knockout (we wont officially know until next week when those all-important "first week numbers" come).

But, if history is on T.I.'s side, and I hope it is, he will regain his musical glory. See, no one really remembers Lennox losing to Rahman because he regained his title in a rematch seven months later and left a baseball-sized knot on Rahman's head in the process. This must mean that Cliff is gonna reappear in December and drop the fiest album he is humanly capable of. Plus, judging from his patterns, Cliff's next album has to be good.

I'm Serious=Good, so-so, cool
Trap Muzik=Phenomenal
Urban Legend=Eh, aight, cool
TI vs. TIP=Eh, I dunno shawty

Cliff is already on the right path to redemption though, in fact he's ahead of it. Lennox waited until his rematch with Rahman to pick a fight on national TV and generate some controversy. But Cliff, he got in a fight at Kevin Liles' brunch BEFORE losing his fight.


jacinta said...


Randy said...

I see you south peezy

Anonymous said...

Never looked at it that way...But you might be on to something...While he is one of my homies, and i do "RESPECT HIS HUSTLE," I've told him that he has to keep growing and challenging himself to get better...And his squad, is just not on par with him so he's able to get away with not having to put his best foot forward and still being able to look like a champ...Lennox Lewis, The Spurs, TI, they're all the same...Good as hell, but not great...Magic, Bird and Jordan VS LeBron, Billups and Kidd...It doesnt add up

YaBoy Po said...

'm Serious=Good, so-so, cool(c'mon man this is a classic for real this nigga rode on the devil in a track) Trap Muzik=Phenomenal(agree)
Urban Legend=Eh, aight, cool)(too many features the greatest is the jam tho)
KING.=Great!(meh , i bought that shit cuz i thought it was the soundtrack to atl)
TI vs. TIP=Eh, I dunno shawty( kill that nigga t.i lol but t.i.p's part n the confrontation racks tho)