Us or Else

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Us or Else
TipUsorElse.jpg
EP by
ReleasedSeptember 23, 2016 (2016-09-23)
GenrePolitical hip hop
Length22:24
Label
Producer
T.I. chronology
Da' Nic
(2015)
Us or Else
(2016)
Us or Else: Letter to the System
(2016)
Singles from Us or Else
  1. "We Will Not"
    Released: August 5, 2016
  2. "Warzone"
    Released: August 31, 2016

Us or Else is the fourth extended play (EP) by American hip hop recording artist T.I.. It was released through Tidal on September 23, 2016, by Grand Hustle Records and Roc Nation. The EP features guest appearances from Quavo, Meek Mill, RaRa, Big K.R.I.T. and Killer Mike, as well as production handled by Mars of 1500 or Nothin' and Mike & Keys, among others. The EP serves as the prequel to his long play (LP) record, titled Us or Else: Letter to the System, which was released in December 2016.

Background[edit]

On July 22, 2016, during an interview with Ebro in the Morning on Hot 97, T.I. announced an EP, titled Us or Else.[1] The EP was described to "be aimed at supporting the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and will speak explicitly about the twisted road race relations took in America to arrive at its current precarious state."[2][3] The EP is also in response to the turmoil caused by the injustices going on in America, namely police brutality following the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.[4]

T.I. said he was "compelled" to write the EP "after the repeated deaths of unarmed black citizens at the hands of police."[5][6] T.I. has said that he is "late to the party" when it comes to what he calls "revolutionary art": "You know Common and Outkast and Public Enemy and KRS-One and Lupe [Fiasco] and Kendrick [Lamar] -- those are the ones. I am just the supporting cast in this particular genre. I felt like more people who stand in my position should be saying something. It seems like the people who have the broad audiences ... I guess for protection of their own success or legacy or brand, they chose not to say anything, and that it was I felt I didn't want to do."[7]

Release and promotion[edit]

On July 5, 2016, Grand Hustle's resident disc jockey DJ MLK, released a song, titled "40 Acres" featuring T.I., RaRa and Rossi.[8][9] On August 5, 2016, T.I. released the EP's first single, titled "We Will Not". The song was produced by his frequent collaborator Mars from the production team 1500 or Nothin'. On August 19, 2016, T.I. released the music video for "We Will Not".[10] On August 31, 2016, T.I.

released the EP's second single, titled "Warzone", with an accompanying music video one week later, exclusively through TIDAL.[11][12] The music video for "Warzone" produced by: Antwanette McLaughlin and directed by: Laurel Richardson; imagines what it would look like if everyday white people were targeted by police. Taking that scenario one step further, we see reenactments of the murders of Tamir Rice (a 12-year-old killed by police, while playing with a toy gun in Cleveland), Eric Garner (who died after being placed in an apparent chokehold by NYC policemen) and Philando Castile (shot and killed by a St. Paul, Minnesota police officer during a traffic stop), with white actors in the victims's places. Footage of T.I. rapping the song's Black Lives Matter–inspired 'Hands up / Can't breathe" chorus is interspersed throughout."[13][14] T.I. has said the video is in response to the "All Lives Matter" slogan: "We wanted to give 'the other side' -- and when I say the 'other side' I don't mean police, I don't mean white people, I mean people who think we're just overreacting, the 'All Lives Matter' people -- we wanted to give them the least amount of ammunition to oppose our message. And the way to do that, we thought, was to go with the most atrocious of all of the travesties. And don't get me wrong, there are still more that are equally atrocious, but for the purposes of our video ... those were the ones that seemed most effective."[7] On September 30, 2016, the album was released via other digital distribution platforms such as Amazon and iTunes.[15][16] In October 2016, T.I. performed "We Will Not" at the 2016 BET Hip Hop Awards, where he dressed as a member of the Black Panther Party and was surrounded by "Black Lives Matter" signs.[17][18][19]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
DJBooth(3-star Honorable Mention)[20]
HipHopDX4.5/5[21]
The Star4/5 stars[22]
Vice(3-star Honorable Mention)[23]

Us or Else received generally favorable reviews from music critics. Aaron McKrell of HipHopDX wrote, "It's [the] conviction that keeps the EP from being just a collection of obligatory anthems. When Clifford Harris flirts with being self-righteous, it's his self-awareness that keeps him grounded. Us or Else is a commanding assortment of protest tunes strengthened by the passion of its composer."[21] In Vice, Robert Christgau named "40 Acres" and "Black Man" the EP's highlights and wrote, "Intelligent black man goes straight conscious while wisely ceding the EP's most intelligent rhyme to Killer Mike".[23]

Track listing[edit]

Us or Else — Standard edition[24]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."We Will Not"2:50
2."Black Man" (featuring Quavo, Meek Mill and RaRa)
4:42
3."Warzone"
  • C. Harris, Jr.
  • Cox, Jr.
  • Groover, Jr.
  • Edwards
  • Mike & Keys
  • Mars
3:44
4."Switchin' Lanes" (featuring Big K.R.I.T. and Trev Case)
Trev Case4:10
5."40 Acres" (featuring Killer Mike and B. Rossi)
  • Deputy
  • Medor
3:52
6."I Swear"
  • C. Harris, Jr.
The Pusha Beats3:03
Total length:22:24

Charts[edit]

Chart (2016) Peak
position
US Billboard 200[25] 175
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[26] 12

References[edit]

  1. ^ "T.I. Is Releasing an Entire Project Dedicated to #BlackLivesMatter | T.I. | Music". BET. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ "T.I. Announces New Mixtape, 'Us or Else,' Aimed at Supporting the #BlackLivesMatter Movement". The Source. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  4. ^ "T.I. Takes a Stand for Justice in New Video for "We Will Not"". Complex. 2011-11-06. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  5. ^ Noah Yoo (2016-09-23). "T.I. Shares New EP Us or Else Feat. Meek Mill, Killer Mike: Listen". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  6. ^ Adam Fleischer (2016-09-29). "T.I. Talks Protest and 'Us or Else' EP". Billboard. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  7. ^ a b Howard, Adam. "Rapper T.I. Presents Counterpoint to 'All Lives Matter' Crowd". NBC News. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  8. ^ Lilah, Rose (2016-07-04). "Hustle Gang - 40 Acres Feat. Rossi, RaRa & T.I. | Stream [New Song]". Hotnewhiphop.com. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  9. ^ 07/05/2016. "Hustle Gang - 40 Acres (Feat. T.I., Rossi & RaRa)". Rap Dose. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  10. ^ Goddard, Kevin (2016-08-05). "T.I. - We Will Not | Stream [New Song]". Hotnewhiphop.com. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  11. ^ Adelle Platon (2016-08-31). "T.I. Releases Politically Charged 'Warzone'". Billboard. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  12. ^ DeBlasio, Michael (31 August 2016). "T.I. Releases New Single "War Zone" Off Upcoming "Us or Else" EP".
  13. ^ "T.I. Flips The Script On Police Brutality In 'Warzone' Video". MTV. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  14. ^ "T.I. Drops His Politically Charged Video for "War Zone"". Complex. 2016-09-08. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  15. ^ "Us Or Else - EP by T.I. on Apple Music". Itunes.apple.com. 2016-09-30. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  16. ^ "Us Or Else [Explicit]: T.I.: MP3 Downloads". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  17. ^ Adelle Platon (2016-10-04). "2016 BET Hip Hop Awards: T.I. Channels Black Panther Party for 'We Will Not' Performance". Billboard. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  18. ^ "Watch T.I. Perform 'We Will Not' at 2016 BET Hip Hop Awards - XXL". Xxlmag.com. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  19. ^ "BET Hip-Hop Awards 2016: T.I. Performs "We Will Not" Surrounded by "Black Lives Matter" Signs: Watch". Pitchfork. 2016-10-05. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  20. ^ James, Andy (2016-09-23). "T.I.'s "US or Else" EP is His Most Political & Inspired Work". DJBooth. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  21. ^ a b "T.I. - Us or Else". HipHopDX. Cheri Media Group. September 25, 2016. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  22. ^ Ndolo, Davies (October 1, 2016). "Album Review: TI's "Us Or Else"". The Star. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  23. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (October 14, 2016). "Flyover Drawl: Expert Witness with Robert Christgau". Vice. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  24. ^ "TIDAL". Listen.tidal.com. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  25. ^ "T.I. Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  26. ^ "T.I. Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved October 11, 2016.