In the press surrounding his recent album “King” (Grand Hustle/Atlantic), Atlanta-based rapper T.I. presents himself as an entrepreneur and fashion plate, a savvy dealer who attends runway shows in Milan and poses in expensive suits.
But at the House of Blues Friday night, T.I. gave a decidedly low-rent perf. Taking the stage for the early show nearly a half-hour late — accompanied only by a DJ, although he was surrounded by some 30-odd members of his posse, some of whom share MC duties — he ran through a short, 45-minute set featuring truncated versions of his songs.
There are the usual thug anthems, sexual boasts and tales of ghetto life mixed in with threats to enemies, memorials to fallen friends (including Philant Johnson, murdered earlier this month after a Cincinnati concert, which explained even more invasive than usual security and T.I.’s two hulking bodyguards) and cautionary tales. (However, he seems not to have taken his own advice: The rapper was forced to cancel nearly a month’s worth of shows after he was jailed on parole violations.)
As anyone who has seen his star turn in the hip-hop movie “ATL” knows, T.I. has charisma — he had the packed house bouncing and swaying on cue — but no amount of presence could redeem the pro forma nature of the show. You just wish the man who insists he is the King was less common.