New Releases: T.I. Battles His Critics on ‘Paper Trail’
In the midst of personal tragedy and professional triumph T.I. moves on with the release of his sixth album ‘Paper Trail.’ The reflective work is indeed personal in that many recordings were done while T.I was on house arrest for federal gun charges.
Unlike 2006’s ‘T.I. vs. T.I.P.’ where he went up against himself, the critics are who he chooses to battle this go around. Powered by its first single ‘No Matter What’ ‘Paper Trail’ climaxes to some of T.I.’s best work. Yet like many great rappers before him, he doesn’t always hit the mark. ‘Live Your Life’ featuring Rihanna and produced by Just Blaze is a reggae toned lethargic attempt while ‘Porn Star’ lacks both good production and lyrics.
‘Whatever You Like’ expresses Tip’s sugar-daddy bravado coupling his syrupy antics and melodic structure almost seamlessly. The Kanye West-produced ‘Swagga Like Us’ is a hodgepodge of hip-hop’s current chart toppers where every name on the roster goes hard behind M.I.A.’s loop: “No one in the corner has swagger like us. Swagger like us. Swagger like us.”
Other names on the guest list include Usher on ‘My Life Your Entertainment,’ Justin Timberlake on ‘Dead and Gone’ and John Legend on ‘Slide Show.’ You would think with all those big names Tip would get “lost in the sauce” but he never does. Just so you don’t get it twisted T.I. is still very much the “King of South” and gives his all on ‘Paper Trail’ expressing the hunger of a newly crowned monarchy while simultaneously holding onto the title.