Release Date: Dec 6, 2011
Record label: RCA
Genre(s): Rap, R&B
T-Pain tunes: perfect for lap dances, and sur- prisingly good for extended listening. Still leaning hard on Auto-Tune, Pain concocts song titles to rival R. Kelly and backs them up with slow-jam indulgences testifying to a life of unfettered pleasure. (The piano-accented "Rock Bottom" doesn’t concern an alcoholic's ultimate low; it’s about a sexual position.) In T-Pain's world, ethnicities blur ("Mix'd Girl"), rosé pairs nicely with top-shelf tequila ("Bottlez") and happy hour arrives in the morning (minor hit "5 O'Clock," featuring a deadpan Lily Allen).
The Auto-Tune king has watched his rap-world currency wane a bit in recent years. (Blame Jay-Z, who famously issued a fatwa against the once-ubiquitous vocal-processing software.) On T-Pain’s fourth album rEVOLVEr, though, that dampened bravado actually serves him; gorgeous robo-soul ballads like ”Rock Bottom” and the Twitter romance ”Default Picture” feel as intimate as the work of any bedroom troubadour. Call it Cyborg Sings the Blues.
In the few years since T-Pain’s last album Thr33 Ringz, heavy applications of Auto-Tune have become the default; and associating him with the trend has almost become an afterthought. T-Pain probably has a right to complain, but either way, he still has the difficult task of proving that he has something new to offer while still holding his ground on the territory he carved out. Luckily, rEVOLVEr, actually does a pretty good job of doing just that, though that’s not to say that he’s a totally new man.
Forget the steampunk motif and the obvious assertion of “evolution” that’s “hidden” in this album’s title, because T-Pain’s fourth effort is no great leap forward for the Auto-Tune King, and it’s entirely less conceptual than his previous effort, the big top-minded Thr33 Ringz. Good news is that rEVOLVEr still feels like a circus right from the “Bang Bang Pow Pow” beginning, a post-Black Eyed Peas circus with T-Pain upping the electro and special effects, all as if he were auditioning for his own Super Bowl half-time show. On this opening cut, Lil Wayne creates an amazing meta circle with his line “I go so hard, they call me ‘Go So Hard’” before “Bottlez” gives the “up in the club”-style track new life with its incredibly strange bass grind from producer Catalyst.
[a]T-Pain[/a] is a very versatile man. Sometimes he sounds like an oversized bumblebee passionately remonstrating with a bouncer in a doomed attempt to gain entrance to a club, while at other times he sounds like an alien race of humanoid Theremins attempting first contact with the human race. There are also times when he sounds like a bog-standard rap vocalist who’s got a Jew’s harp stuck in his throat.Yes, it’s fair to say that, while [a]Jay-Z[/a] wishes death to Auto-Tune, [a]T-Pain[/a] is its enthusiastic reanimator, repeatedly jamming the defibrillator pads into the chest of one of pop music’s most irritating presences.
Hey, whatever happened to T-Pain, the Grammy-winning producer and hook singer who unleashed the Auto-Tune fad? He’s not omnipresent on the radio like he used to be but has received plenty of attention from one-off features and non-musical projects. Pain seems to have put more focus on creating an album, as opposed to manufacturing singles, for his most recent release, rEVOLVEr, which meets with mixed results. The record kicks off with “Bang Bang Pow Pow”, a banger with a beat, hook, and Lil’ Wayne verse so hard you’d think Pain borrowed the track from frequent collaborator DJ Khaled.
Not that T-Pain would ever be confused for an album artist, but one would have to imagine the poor critical reception of Thr33 Ringz stung a little. After all, 2008 was the year T-Pain asserted that he was the ringleader of pop music and we would all be forced to follow his lead for years to come… and yet the opposite happened. The album went Gold, but other than “Can’t Believe It” and “Chopped ‘n’ Skrewed” there’s not a memory to be had.
Post Aqua Teen Hunger Force, post Taylor Swift duet, post “I Am T-Pain” toy microphone, it’s hard to expect much from T-Pain, who’s increasingly proven more interested in selling himself as a kind of free-floating weirdo brand name than making actual music. Yet half a decade after carving out a new niche for himself, the robotically voiced crooner with a gift for popping out snappy, semi-novelty-style hits seems wise for attempting to diversify. The popularity of Auto-Tune, at least as a vehicle for carrying entire songs, has thankfully decayed, and, as proven by the stilted, moldy sound of rEVOLVEr, there aren’t many other tricks up T-Pain’s sleeve.
The Florida rapper’s having a blast on album four, regardless of who’s partying with him. Mike Diver 2011 Stubbornly refusing to acknowledge Jay-Z’s imploring of rappers to quit with all the awful vocal effects, 2009’s Death of Auto-Tune, T-Pain has pressed ahead with this fourth LP, the follow-up to 2008’s Billboard Chart hit Thr33 Ringz. Blinkers up, he’s delivered another set that dizzies with its disregard for a pure and simple vocal.
She didn’t leave much behind. That’s the inescapable fact of Amy Winehouse‘s posthumous collection, “Lioness: Hidden Treasures.” The album’s 12 songs are the leftovers from a singer and songwriter who was promising on her 2003 debut album, “Frank”; fully herself and even more ….