When T.I. dropped his debut LP, I'm Serious, way back in 2001, a 14-year, nine album career wasn't promised for the fresh-faced trap star. Though most of that first project went unnoticed by casual rap fans, Tip captivated audiences the second time out on Trap Muzik.
Since then, the King of the South has been on quite the run. He's amassed 9 albums in almost 15 years -- and that's not counting his mixtapes and P.$.C. group album.
On October 21, Tip will return with Paperwork, and while the LP is a gem on it's own, we couldn't help but think about how it stacked against the rest of his dope boy discography.
So here's all of T.I.'s albums ranked in order of greatness, from I'm Serious to Paperwork.
9. No Mercy
2010 was a rough year for T.I., but the King of the South looked to reclaim his spot after his prison bid. There were some dope moments on No Mercy ("Welcome to the World"), but it was clear he was still trying to find his footing with songs like "Get Back Up."
8. T.I. vs T.I.P.
The conceptual T.I. vs T.I.P. sounded like a good idea at first, but ended up a schizophrenic effort. The Wyclef-produced "You Know What It Is" and "My Swag" just didn't fit, but we have to thank the rap Gods for "Hurt" -- that track still bangs.
7. I'm Serious
T.I.'s 2001 debut didn't showcase his full potential. The LP's single and title track "I'm Serious" found T.I. rapping empty bars over a Neptunes-produced, dancehall concoction. It was little heard tracks like "Still Ain't Forgave Myself" and "Dope Boyz" that would lay the ground work for the trap-centered artist T.I. would later become.
With T.I.'s latest, he shows that he isn't that young d-boy any more; he's way more worldly. Still, Tip hasn't abandoned the streets at all -- yes, on "No Mediocre" he raps for a broader audience, but he keeps it all the way hood on "About the Money."
5. Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head
Trouble Man may be T.I.'s most balanced album; it's well-thought out, but still dangerous and 100% southern. Songs like "Trap Back Jumpin'," "Ball" and the Andre 3000-assisted "Sorry" just scream classic Tip.
4. Paper Trail
After 2007's disappointing T.I. Vs T.I.P. and the rapper's arrest on federal gun charges, the King returned with his most commercially successful album. Paper Trail won with radio hits like The Rihanna-assisted "Live Your Life" and "Dead and Gone" with Justin Timberlake. He also gave rap fans something to salivate over, gathering Jay Z, Kanye West and Lil Wayne for "Swagga Like Us."
3. Urban Legend
Once Tip positioned himself as rap's number one dope boy on Trap Muzik, it was clear that he had no intention of letting go of his spot. He declared himself royalty on "Tha King," ran radio with "Bring 'Em Out" and took over the streets with "U Don't Know Me."
Tip was on fire in 2006. Not only did he land a starring role in "ATL," he earned his first Billboard/ number one album with King -- and it was well-deserved. The 18-track album bumped without a blemish. There was the street anthem "What You Know," the UGK-assisted "Front Back" and the sexy "Why You Wanna." Flawless.
1. Trap Muzik
Trap Muzik was bigger than Tip. With his sophomore LP, T.I. turned the tide in his native Atlanta and then hip-hop as a whole. Back then, trap music wasn't the hip-hop sub-genre it is today, and the idea of a southern dope boy as a rap star was foreign. Tracks like "24s," "Rubber Band Man" and "I Can't Quit" influenced a generation of MCs like Jeezy, 2 Chainz and Young Thug.