Release Date: Oct 21, 2014
Record label: Sony Music Entertainment
Genre(s): Rap, Gangsta Rap, Southern Rap
There are moments on Paperwork where rapper T.I. sounds as vital, bright, infectious, and tuneful as Nas in his prime, but don't get it twisted, as this vibrant effort is often so pop that it is more like an Illmatic aimed at taking on the chart dominance of Iggy Azalea and not the gang violence in Queensbridge. Fair enough, and a target well within T.I.'s means, plus the fire in rapper's belly is stoked by executive producer Pharrell Williams here, the man who persuaded the rapper to move his Grand Hustle empire to the Columbia family of labels and live in the big and bold world of the Neptunes and their ilk.
T.I. :: PaperworkGrand Hustle/Columbia RecordsAuthor: Steve 'Flash' JuonT.I. has ambitious plans for "Paperwork" - so grand that I admire his hustle but also so grandiose that I worry if it will all come to fruition. He talks about wanting to release "Paperwork" as a trilogy of albums 6-9 months apart, and how he wants to film a movie to illustrate the subject matter of the songs.
Paperwork isn't just T.I's ninth studio album; it's also the first installment of what will lead to his tenth and eleventh. Paperwork will be a "trilogy," T.I. has promised, an imposing prospect for a rapper whose career peak is 8 years in his rearview. He has a habit of "returning," whenever coming off of a break (voluntary or involuntary), with a torrential, unmanageable flood of new material.
Paperwork is the first album in a while from T.I. that doesn’t feel weighed down. No Mercy, his first album after a prison sentence, made T.I. sound exhausted. The music was gloomy, plodding, worn out. Trouble Man: Heavy Is the Hand‘s overstuffed tracklist felt like a mea culpa, a huge ….
T.I. has nothing left to prove. With a lengthy resume that notes his Grammy Awards, acting roles in Hollywood movies and his being a key figure in pioneering the now-ubiquitous, unmistakable low knocks and catchy TR-808 drum machine triplets of trap music, this Atlantian has maintained a presence in hip-hop for over a decade. Of course, to just list Tip's career highlights would only be telling half the story; he's been in jail a few times, and he's been in tabloids for beefs and scandals of all shapes.
For his first album post-"Blurred Lines," T.I. has brought on that song's mastermind, Pharrell Williams, as executive producer. Nothing seems off-limits here – an X-rated slow grind alongside Chris Brown, a post-Trayvon political rant with Public Enemy-ish lyrics, and two unlikely Williams concoctions that sound like robo-Vegas Curtis Mayfield. The connecting tissue is the masterful T.I.
Rapper, entrepreneur, actor, jailbird, Grammy winner, reality TV star and Iggy Azalea svengali, TI is now on his ninth album. He is no stranger to hits, having featured on many (Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines among them). Paperwork finds the Atlantan diversifying. Sure, catchy singles such as No Mediocre (featuring Azalea) and About the Money cleave close to the worship of money and compliant “ho”s rife in hip-hop.
Forget T.I.’s stout resume for a minute. Strip away his Bill Cosby-like demeanor from his hit reality show T.I. & Tiny: Family Hustle. Strip away the bevy of acting roles he landed over the years. Strip away his turbulent beefs with Floyd Mayweather and Azalea Banks. If you carefully dissect the ….
Earlier this year when T.I. released “New National Anthem,” an angry, astute response to the Michael Brown slaying, it hinted that this MC might be helping to move the hip-hop dialogue out of caricature and back to dealing with real life. Think again. Despite the inclusion of “Anthem,” his ninth record is a retreat into the familiar: his grand hustles, gangsta posturing, and sexual prowess.