Album Review: T.I. - Paper Trail

Posted by Mack of Sound-Savvy On 9:20 PM

You can’t expect me to think like you ‘cause my life ain’t like yours…

Artist: T.I.
Album: Paper Trail
Release Date: 9.30.08

Fresh off a year of significant highs and lows, the self-proclaimed King of the South releases Paper Trail, his 6th studio album and a full testimony that his spirit and his swagger remain untouched. As on the previous album (T.I. vs. T.I.P, 2007), we see a balanced display of his dual personalities, each making noteworthy contributions. While I wouldn’t call Paper Trail T.I.’s all time best release, it’s definitely near the top of the list and brings the listener another step closer to the heart of the King.

56 Bars and I’m Illy reintroduce T.I. as one of the greatest lyricists and trendsetters in the game. I’d like to know what blogger pissed in T.I.’s cornflakes, cause he let’s loose on What Up, What’s Happenin’, (“How bout we stay up all night, on the blog sites, spread vicious lies and nasty rumors, we can all write! But that’s alright, let the nerds hate…”) which also allegedly addresses his beef with Shawty Lo (“I ain’t mention yo name, that’s what all this bout?”). Usher chimes in on My Life Your Entertainment, which offers a perspective on life from the other side of the lens, and while the rapper shines here, the hook is a bit dry and the singer leaves much to be desired. T.I. still knows who to call when he needs a club banger – that’s right, Swizz Beatz: Swing Ya Rag is the ultimate baller’s anthem for a night out partyin’ in the club. Oh, and the Rubber Band Man hasn’t lost his touch for satisfying the ladies. Porn Star is a nice dedication to the naughty side of life (and one of my favorite tracks), and your reward: Whatever You Like. One of the downsides to the album is Ain’t Missin Nothin’ which just doesn’t seem to fit. He attempts to bring hope to the incarcerated, but the content on the rest of the album completely disproves the title and theme of this track - they really are missing something: life.

This album sees quite a few powerhouse collaborations. He teams up with B.O.B. and fellow ATL rapper Ludacris for a monstrous hit with the tragedy-to-triumph inspired On Top Of The World, where Luda totally blazes his verse (Theater of the Mind – 11.11.08). Rihanna unites with T.I. on the empowering Livin My Life, a song that uplifts the principle of doing you, regardless of haters. The album mellows out just a bit with a cameo from R&B crooner John Legend on the introspective Slide Show. The most momentous of collaborative efforts is undoubtedly Swagga Like Us. The masters of the hip-hop universe (Jay-Z, Kanye, Lil Wayne and T.I.) come together for a grand slam of epic proportions. Justin Timberlake revives his musical chemistry with T.I. on the closing number, Dead and Gone. It’s one of the album’s shining moments, as T.I. kicks some real knowledge about maturity, taking responsibility as a man, and leaving childish things behind.

With this album, T.I. sets out to give a more realistic view of his life and along the way he dispels some of the misconceptions portrayed by the media and the blogosphere. His ability to showcase his vulnerability through his music (an uncommon characteristic among rappers) is what sets him levels above his competition. Listeners can relate to emotion and T.I.’s music is heartfelt, born out of his life experiences. Webster defines a king as one that holds a preeminent position, especially a chief among competitors. Hip-hop defines a king as T.I. – and he’s still serious!

Related Posts:
Swagga Like Us
Mack's New Anthem
T.I. - Whatever You Like
Your Prescription is In: Hip-Hop Edition


1 Comment

  1. bshepjr Said,

    i aint mention yo name, THATS WHAT ALL THIS BOUT!?

    Posted on October 3, 2008 at 4:24 AM


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