Release Date: Nov 11, 2008
Record label: Jive
Genre(s): Rap, R&B, Soul
T-Pain :: Thr33 RingzKonvict/Jive/ZombaAuthor: Jesal 'Jay Soul' PadaniaThe third album from T-Pain, "Thr33 Ringz," finds him once again attempting to master the triple threats - rapping, singing and producing. That it turns out to be incredibly formulaic and slavishly apes his sophomore effort ("Epiphany") proves only to be a minor deterrent, since almost everything here is upscaled. He really is one of the true ringleaders of the game, and whilst Akon featuring on his last album was pretty much the height of it, Pain has had a BIG year guesting on international mega-hits like "Low," Chris Brown's "Kiss Kiss" and Kanye's "Good Life.
Cynics who knock T-Pain for overusing Auto-Tune are missing the point. What he lacks in melodic and lyrical creativity, he’s always made up for with playful production. And on Thr33 Ringz, more than ever, that robotic voice is just part of an effort to reconcile cold technology and warm soul. When he dials back Auto-Tune, T-Pain winds up with ”Keep Going,” a plodding ballad that proves he can record without any noticeable electronic crutches.
Hated on for his over-the-top appearance, his constant use of the electronic Auto-Tune voice filter, plus guest shots on maybe 30-percent of the R&B or hip-hop singles released during the years 2007/2008, T-Pain is the full package in a sidekick's disguise. Like a garish version of his label boss Akon, he's a singer/songwriter/producer who doesn't evolve much over this avalanche of releases and guest shots, but Thr33 Ringz proves he's much more aware of his limitations. First, there's the long guest list here, featuring high-power names like Lil Wayne, T.I., Kanye West, and Akon himself.
For the past two years, producer/singer/rapper T-Pain and his trusty Autotune effect have ruled the roost in American pop: what started out as a gimmicky novelty has become one of the most bankable sounds around. There is surely no rapper or R&B singer left who hasn't made their way to his door, hoping for his commercial Midas touch. No wonder, then, that T-Pain's third solo album finds him in the guise of a circus ringmaster (having already had the chutzpah to turn up for the MTV VMAs riding an elephant), making a parade of guests dance to his beat.
The title of robo-soul icon T-Pain's newest album refers both to his self-proclaimed position as the ringleader of the music industry circus and to the derogatory "ring-tone rap" label assigned to him by hip-hop heads unimpressed by the technology-heavy and content-light style that's brought him such success in the unlikely market of cellphone sounds. [rssbreak] No surprise that this album features more of that heavily processed Auto-Tune sound on most of his vocals. Nor will anyone be shocked at the various cheeky odes to strip clubs.
I’m quickly coming to the realization that T-Pain and I could totally hang out. Not because he’s jumped the shark a la Tom Waits, singing about carnivals and midgets and psychedelia most people are completely unable to imagine. Rather, T-Pain is a lot like your average Joe: getting shot down/messed with by girls, not all that good at singing, dreaming of making it big, and wanting nothing more than to get high and hang out with his buddies.