20060404

Chicken Stains And Jelly Stains

T.I.: The Breakup
King

Something weird is going on with "The Breakup"; there's no real reason for it to exist. King has gotten past its bananas-ass beginning, four absolute monster tracks before it settles down with "Live in the Sky" and then begins to settle into its hard mid-album lean with "Ride Wit Me," the intensely focused mid-tempo self-affirming burners that made up the best parts of Urban Legend, the songs that T.I. seems to write in his sleep. So the album is just starting to cruise and breathe on its own momentum, the easy asphalt glide it mostly maintains up until the end, and you'd think it would be absolutely necessary that it swings this stretch with no problems or interruptions. So why would he put a skit here? And "The Breakup" isn't just a skit; it's a totally shrill and distracting blast of noise, Mike Epps and someone named Maliecka yelling at each other while babies cry and sitcom voices babble and phones ring in the background. If you're washing dishes or writing blog entries or something when "The Breakup" comes on, you pretty much just have to stop for the duration of its minute-56 running time and wait for it to end. It's totally fucking unpleasant. It's also pretty funny.

It doesn't have much to do with the album or T.I. himself; he only gets mentioned at the end, but it's implied that he's the guy Epps is yelling about, the guy his girl is going off with now. He starts out all nice and courtly, welcoming her home and then getting all heated and laying into her, telling her he followed her and saw her with some dude, then just randomly complaining about her. As a back-and-forth bit, it's a lot like the Will Ferrell/Christina Applegate scenes in Anchorman; the girl is supposed to be getting the upper hand, but her lines totally fall flat, and he gets all the good digs in. All the big laugh lines belong to Epps: "My first reaction was to run up on you and just grab the back of your pants and give you a wedgie, just pull the thong all up in ya ass," "Bitch, your hair look like a dirty tennis ball now," "How you gonna have me killed with four hundred and thirty-nine dollars a month?" The best thing she can come up with is calling him an "extra-regular-ass nigga," and mostly she's just calling him faggot and telling him he stinks and stuff, total lameass fourth-grade playground comebacks, just nothing.

And even though he sons her so hard, he comes back on the album later, presumably in phone-message form at the end of "Goodlife," crying and begging the girl to come back, all pathetic. And yet we know that T.I. and Mike Epps are friends from the "What You Know" video. They're such good friends, in fact, that T.I. totally forgave Epps for being an undercover policeman and getting T.I. thrown in jail in the "ASAP" video. So why would he reduce Epps to a crying mess like that? It's not right.