Thug-Adonis Veneer

So maybe he didn't conquer the box office with his lead role in ATL, but T.I.'s ego still rages on the aptly titled album King, just released this past March. Already platinum, the album deserves its blowout sales, achieving a rare, believable balance of hotheaded boasts and downtime introspection.

In other words, the ego is warranted. King is leaps and bounds ahead of last year's Urban Legend, which yielded the fun hit "Bring Em Out" (built on a sample of Jay-Z copping a line from Notorious B.I.G.) and landed the shirtless wonder on a spring-break episode of The O.C. The album'sstrengths include the simple and sparkling singles "What You Know" and "Why You Wanna"; the lamentations in the Jamie Foxx-featured "Live in the Sky" and the Neptunes-produced track, "Goodlife," ring true; and even the skits are funnier with every listen.

Also, the choice and usage of samples in King are ingenious, but the most noteworthy aspect of the album is the weirder bits (such as the closing "Bankhead"), which indicate there may be a more offbeat mind behind that thug-Adonis veneer.

And doesn't all that more than qualify T.I. to be a superstar?

T.I. and Yung Joc at the House of Blues, 1530 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714) 778-2583; Wed., 7 p.m. $38-43. All ages.

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