T.I., "I'm Back"

Track Review

The number of rap songs titled either "I'm Back" or "Guess Who's Back" must number in the hundreds, or even thousands. Few hip-hop tropes are more tired than the triumphant return, whether it's from record-label limbo, self-imposed retirement or, in T.I.'s case, prison. Despite its well-worn theme, "I'm Back"-T.I.'s first new track since his December release-sounds remarkably fresh, with the rapper writing some of his hardest bars in years. This isn't the calm, complacent T.I. of "Whatever You Like" or "Live Your Life," but the meaner, hungrier one from his "Trap Muzik" days. (It goes almost too hard in that direction.) While "I'm Back" makes for a strong statement, it's difficult to imagine a track this intense gaining much steam at radio or in clubs.