King

The third album from T.I. won't do much to answer doubters who've chalked the Atlanta MC's success up to his compelling life story (he's gone from rags to riches to jail and back) and to his thug-in-aviator-shades good looks, rather than his presence on the mike. On King, former "Rubber Band Man" Clifford Harris flips between aggro chin-checker ("I'm Talkin' to You" is spoiled by way-too-busy production from Just Blaze) and sexed-up ladies' man (on "Hello," he'll "kiss your G-string to start the evening"). An absence of memorable narratives, punch lines and wordplay makes the songs pass without distinction (though it sounds cool when he pronounces "paramedic" like "purr-metic"). The multiple guest spots don't do T.I. any favors, either ("I'm Straight" finds B.G. sporting the best rhyme on the album: "Everybody say they got a story/Mine on Larry King/Theirs is on Maury"). Worst of all is the rock track "You Know Who," where clunky drumming by Travis Barker desecrates a horn line from Solomon Burke's "Fight Back." It might be good to be king, but on this evidence it's not so interesting.