Us or Else: Letter to the System

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Us or Else: Letter to the System
T.I-Us Or Else-Letter To The System-2016-.jpg
Compilation album by
ReleasedDecember 16, 2016 (2016-12-16)
GenrePolitical hip hop
T.I. chronology
Us or Else
Us or Else: Letter to the System
Dime Trap

Us or Else: Letter to the System is a compilation album[1] by American hip hop recording artist T.I. It was independently[2] released on December 16, 2016, by Grand Hustle Records and Roc Nation. The project, which was initially issued as a Tidal exclusive,[3][4] serves as an extended version of his EP, simply titled Us or Else (2016).

The project features an array of artists, including Hustle Gang affiliates Quavo, Meek Mill, Ra Ra, Gizzle, Tokyo Jetz, B.o.B, London Jae, Big K.R.I.T., Killer Mike and Charlie Wilson, among others. The projects production was handled by The Digital Natives, The-Dream, Lil' C, Mars, Mike & Keys, MP808, Nottz, TBHits, Trev Case and more.


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.

— T.I. saying that he is "late to the party" when it comes to what he calls "revolutionary art".[5]

On February 22, 2016, T.I. announced he signed a distribution deal with Jay Z's Roc Nation company. T.I. also revealed he is one of the new co-owners of online streaming service, TIDAL.[6][7] On July 22, 2016, during an interview with Ebro in the Morning on Hot 97, T.I. announced an EP, titled Us or Else.[8] The EP was described to "be aimed at supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, and will speak explicitly about the twisted road race relations took in America to arrive at its current precarious state."[9][10] The EP was 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.[11] The EP was ultimately released for streaming on September 23, 2016, via Tidal, with it being released to other markets on September 30.[12] On December 16, 2016, without prior announcement or promotion,[13] T.I. released Us or Else: Letter to the System.[14]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Vice (Expert Witness)(A-)[18]

The compilation received generally positive reviews from music critics and fans alike. Da'Shan Smith of Pitchfork praised "the bevy of showcasing guest appearances—from Jacksonville-based Tokyo Jetz's annihilating turn on "Lazy" to fellow Atlantian London Jae's raspy flow on the backwoods baptism of "Pain"—embody two core principles of BLM: community and the advancement of future generations. With his generosity, the self-proclaimed "Grand Hustler" is repositioning himself in the vein of someone like Dr. Dre, who in 2015 introduced the wider world to Anderson .Paak on Compton."[16] Aaron McKrell of HipHopDX wrote "Us or Else: Letter to the System equates in not only one of the year's strongest full-length projects but in Tip's discography as well. It's a suitable blend of his personal views to package aware commentary of our turbulent times in the United States in 2016."[15]

Track listing[edit]

Standard edition
1."I Believe"Nottz3:44
2."Ah No No" (featuring Translee)
  • Harris Jr.
  • Kevin Davis
  • Translee Macklin
3."Black Man" (featuring Quavo, Meek Mill and Ra Ra)4:42
4."Lazy" (featuring Gizzle, Tokyo Jetz, Ra Ra and London Jae)
  • Harris Jr.
  • Glenda Proby
  • Shauntrell Pender
  • Smith
  • Jacquez Lowe
  • Quinn
  • Lil' C
  • Shantiseng[19]
6."Writer" (featuring Translee and B.o.B)
The Digital Natives4:06
7."Letter to the System" (featuring London Jae and Translee)
  • Harris Jr.
  • Lowe
  • Macklin
The Digital Natives2:48
8."We Will Not"
  • Harris Jr.
  • Cox Jr.
  • Groover Jr.
  • Edwards
  • Mike & Keys
  • Mars
9."Pain" (featuring London Jae)
  • Harris Jr.
  • Lowe
  • Lamb
10."Switchin' Lanes" (featuring Big K.R.I.T. and Trev Case)
Trev Case4:10
11."Picture Me Mobbin'" (featuring The-Dream)
12."40 Acres" (featuring Killer Mike and B. Rossi)
  • Deputy
13."I Swear"
  • Harris Jr.
  • Arthur Ross
  • Leon Ware
The Pusha Beats3:03
14."Here We Go / Don't Fall for That" (featuring Charlie Wilson)Lil' C3:57
15."Take da Wheel"
Total length:57:01


Credits for Us or Else: Letter to the System adapted from AllMusic.[20]

  • Big K.R.I.T. – featured artist
  • Derek Blythe – composer
  • B.o.B – featured artist
  • Trev Case – featured artist
  • Trevor Case – composer
  • Michael Cox – composer
  • The-Dream – featured artist
  • Lamar Edwards – composer
  • John Groover – composer
  • Clifford Harris – composer
  • London Jae – featured artist
  • Tokyo Jetz – featured artist
  • Killer Mike – featured artist
  • Gizzle – featured artist
  • Jacquez Lowe – composer
  • Translee Macklin – composer
  • Quavious Marshall – composer
  • Meek Mill – featured artist
  • Terius Nash – composer
  • Shauntrell Pender – composer
  • Glenda Proby – composer
  • Quavo – featured artist
  • Ra Ra – featured artist
  • Michael Render – composer
  • Arthur Ross – composer
  • B Rossi – featured artist
  • Brandon Rossi – composer
  • Justin Scott – composer
  • Bobby Simmons – composer
  • Mitchelle'l Sium – composer
  • Rodriqueiz Smith – composer
  • T.I. – primary artist
  • Jayceon Taylor – composer
  • Translee – featured artist
  • Leon Ware – composer
  • Robert Williams – composer
  • Charlie Wilson – composer, featured artist


Chart (2016) Peak
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[21] 39

Release history[edit]

List of release dates, formats, label, and reference
Region Date Format Label Ref.
Various December 16, 2016 Streaming (Tidal exclusive) [22]
December 23, 2016 [23]


  1. ^ T.I. Talks New Album 'Dime Trap', Curating Trap Music, The Dangers Of A Big Celebrity + More. YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11.
  2. ^ Eustice, Kyle (2016-12-16). "T.I. Releases 15-Track "Us Or Else: Letter To The System" To TIDAL". HipHopDX. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  3. ^ "Stream T.I.'s Album 'Us or Else: Letter to the System'". Rap-Up. 2016-12-16. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  4. ^ "T.I Extends His Letter To The System With 'Us Or Else' LP". 2016-12-16. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  5. ^ Howard, Adam (15 September 2016). "Rapper T.I. Presents Counterpoint to 'All Lives Matter' Crowd". NBC News. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  6. ^ "T.I. Signs Distribution Deal With Roc Nation, Becomes Latest Co-Owner of Tidal". Billboard.
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ "T.I. Is Releasing an Entire Project Dedicated to #BlackLivesMatter | T.I. | Music". BET. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  9. ^ [2][dead link]
  10. ^ "T.I. Announces New Mixtape, 'Us or Else,' Aimed at Supporting the #BlackLivesMatter Movement". The Source. 22 July 2016. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  11. ^ "T.I. Takes a Stand for Justice in New Video for "We Will Not"". Complex. 2011-11-06. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  12. ^ "Us Or Else - EP by T.I. on Apple Music". 30 September 2016. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  13. ^ "T.I. Releases Surprise Album "Us or Else: Letter To The System" As TIDAL Exclusive". 16 December 2016. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  14. ^ "T.I. Drops Surprise New LP 'Us or Else: Letter to the System'". 17 December 2016. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  15. ^ a b "Review: T.I. Delivers A Full Winner With "Us Or Else: Letter To The System"". 19 December 2016. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  16. ^ a b Strauss, Matthew (January 9, 2017). "T.I.: Us or Else: Letter to the Syetem Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  17. ^ Odenthal, Kathleen (2017-01-20). "Review: T.I.'s Album, "Us Or Else: Letter To The System"". Spinditty. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  18. ^ Christgau, Robert (13 January 2017). "With 'RTJ3,' Run the Jewels Are Funnier, Hookier, Brainier, and More Political". Noisey. Vice (published 2017-01-13).
  19. ^ "New Music: @RoryFresco "Lazy" (feat. @BxtchImGizzle)". Onsmash. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  20. ^ "Us or Else: Letter to the System – T.I." AllMusic. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  21. ^ "T.I. Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  22. ^ Allison Hazel (2016-12-16). "T.I. Releases New Album 'Us or Else: Letter to the System'". Billboard. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  23. ^ "Us or Else: Letter to the System by T.I. on Apple Music". 2016-12-23. Retrieved 2017-03-05.

External links[edit]