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T.I.: F#ck Da City Up  

Self-released

After a bloated trilogy of albums that culminated in 2010's identity-challenged No Mercy, Clifford Harris was whisked away to the Arkansas Department of Corrections on felony drug charges last November. The experience must have revived his inner D-boy, because F#ck Da City Up is a nefarious outgrowth of T.I.'s legal scrapes. Hopefully his probation officer wasn't within earshot when he recorded "On Purpose," where he casually mentions leanin' on drank. While the jury is still out on Tip's rehabilitation, fans will take comfort knowing that F#ck Da City Up is in step with the rapper's best work. The songs are appreciably old-school: synth horns, tumbling snares, and bass as volcanic as a Josh Smith tomahawk slam. "Pimp," featuring Too Short and a feisty, posthumous Pimp C, sounds like a 13-year-old No Limit posse track. Thankfully, revisionism suits T.I. Having withstood a difficult few years, he's back in fighting shape. (4 out of 5 stars)

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