Saturday, October 11, 2008

Album Review: T.I. - Paper Trail (3.5/5)

After King and T.I. vs T.I.P., I've become quite a solid fan of T.I., those albums were pure quality. Paper Trail, became yet another commercial success of T.I. but in terms of quality it was a huge step down -- it in no way matched how good his previous efforts were, it's a shame too, I had high expectations for this album, but admittedly it does have just as many good moments as it does bad.

Kicking of the album is the fairly lengthy intro titled, "56 Bars", it's a midtempo track, it gives the album a stronger start than I thought when I first listened to it, it then swiftly moves into, "I'm Illy", which is one of the best moments on the album -- the track has a hard bassline and deep backing track, pushing T.I.'s vocals really hard. "Ready For Whatever", is another track I really like, main reason because of the noticeable electric guitar running through various elements of the song. "On Top Of The World", is more average than anything else on the album, it has the typical quick-fix backing track, used on many, many hip-hop filler tracks.

The album hits an all-time high with, "Live Your Life", featuring Rihanna, the song, suiting Rihanna than T.I., goes in a more R&B direction; which I guess draws me to the song a bit more, what I really like is that T.I. managed to keep up the thickness of his lyrics yet maintaing the catchy chorus without seeming flimsy. "Whatever You Like", served as the albums second single -- admittedly it did take a while for me to adjust to it, but now it is one of my favorite tracks on the album, it's like his own, ("Lollipop").

"No Matter What", is surprising melodic, which is the last thing I expect from a track sung T.I. himself, it's nice surprise but not one of my favorites, the song served as the albums lead single.

"My Life Is Your Entertainment", featuring Usher, this is one of my personal favorites, the song is wonderfully structured, it seems clear that T.I. seems to excel when he incorporated elements of R&B into his music. "Porn Star", I don't particularly care for, generally I don't mind sexually explicit song but this track just doesn't do it for me, but it does have quite a good backing track, which I suppose gives the song depth.

"Swing Ya Rag", has a distinctive literate popping beat to it, which becomes overly repetitive, the song in general does begin to sound tuneless at times. "What Up, What's Haapnin'?", is another one of my favorites, it has a eery dramatic vibe flowing through it -- T.I.'s vocals seem rather relaxed here... maybe too relaxed? especially during the chorus, and the few lines leading towards it.

"Every Chance I Get", is one of those typical, show of type songs, which has been a real problem, even in his previous albums. "Swagga Like Us", is a star studded track, featuring Jay-Z, Kanye West and Lil' Wayne, it's really all about the lyrics here, which would explain the average backing track. "Slide Slow", featuring John Legend is among T.I. best songs ever, it's heavily Piano based played by John Legend himself, it's an amazing track, probably why I've boosted the album's rating to 3.5 instead of 3.

"Ya'll Ain't Missing Nothing", is another beautiful track, it's really a vocal against acoustics and piano venture, I absolutely adore this track. Closing the album is, "Dead And Gone", with Justin Timberlake; the song is another paino-based track, it's very, very fast paced, which is what I love about it, it's always amazing when T.I. incorporated R&B into his songs. Paper Trail is an average hip-hop album with a handful of good tracks, like I pointed out before, definitely not better that, King or T.I. vs T.I.P.

Best tracks: I'm Illy, Ready For Whatever, My Life Is Your Entertainment, Live Your Life, Whatever You Like, No Matter What, Slide Show, Ya'll Ain't Missing Nothing, Dead and Gone

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