T.I.
Paper Trail


3.5
great

Review

by Mike Dracon USER (9 Reviews)
November 18th, 2008 | 12 replies | 4,358 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A year after the birth of his alter ego, Southern-born rapper T.I. still knows how to burn the charts and impress the critics.

1 of 1 thought this review was well written

A year after the birth of his alter ego, southern-born rapper T.I. still knows how to burn the charts and impress the critics. With a grand total of 7 singles all topping the #1 spot over the last few years, much was expected of Paper Trail. It delivered, but not to its fullest. While the production promised to be his best, it still leaves empty spaces. However, the maturity evolves through his lyrics, which seem less occupied with his cars and more focused on problems concerning politics. Also, he lets go of some of the reasons that dropped his game. The leap is risky, especially since his last album, the mediocre T.I. vs T.I.P., popped out more pointless skits than The College Dropout. Needless to say, the album flows perfectly from start to finish without distraction.

The first thing you would notice is the change in production, which is surprisingly good. The beats present long snare drums, violent basslines and sample-driven tracks. If all else fails about the album, production-wise it proves to be more than just flash. The first single, Whatever You Like, is your typical radio-friendly song. From the catchy hook, to the catchy chorus, and not to mention T.I.'s unmistakebly catchy flow, it screams attention to the mainstream. Athe end of the day, it lacks that Grand Hustle hardness we've all grown to like, but there are signs of progression. Swagga Like Us is the next song to raise a few eyebrows. The structure is built up of a sample from MIA's Paper Planes and repeated in a similar tone to Lil Wayne's A Milli. The beat is basically drum and bass over siren noises. It could've been one of the most impressive tracks on the album, except for the fact that it drew way too much attention with the features of Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and Kanye West. With that said, if you'd wish to sell out any further, getting T-Pain in the song would've been a waste of potential. Although both Wayne and West use a vocoder during their verses, its much more distinguishable than their horrid solo efforts. What Swagga Like Us has failed to do is show any originality along with the album, even with a beat as good as that.

Paper Trail does have its fair share of moments in the spotlight. Ready For Whatever has T.I. spitting some of his best rhymes over a stylish modern beat. His split personality makes it impossible to tell this track apart from his previous album, but definitely keeps his hardcore image without bragging too much. Live Your Life is possibly the strangest song on the album. The intro samples the very popular techno song, Numa Numa, and transforms it into Rihanna's flowing vocals. Its also the official second single, and not hard to see why. T.I.'s choice of topic is strange, since he raps against the usual cars and bling. His rhymes are intelligent, clean and innovative:

I’m the opposite of moderate, immaculately polished with the spirit of a hustler and the swagger of a college kid.
Allergic to the counterfeit, impartial to the politics.
Articulate but still will grab a nigga by the collar quick.


While I can't stand the sound of Rihanna's voice any further, Live Your Life has some exceptions. A definite highlight of the album, and amazingly accurate to its topic. No Matter What is another shining hit, with T.I.'s trademark guitar riff samples thrown in over beats by Timbaland's prodigy producer, Danja. It might've just been a promo for the album, but quickly become one of my favorites. The rest of Paper Trail flows into each other with stunning production work, and some of T.I.'s best and hardest rhymes to date.

The Dirty King of the South is no perfectionist when it comes to extraordinary hip-hop, but always takes his place as an entertainer. Paper Trail holds up well, and dare I say, surpasses Tha Carter III in almost every way. T.I. might be one of the best mainstream rappers on the market, but in the eyes of the matured musicians who look for something innovative, this album sinks under its own pressure. Your money is well spent, as Paper Trail is worthwhile and, well... fun to listen to.

Definitely check out:
No Matter What
Ready For Whatever
What Up, What's Happenin'
Slide Show



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user ratings (275)
Chart.
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
Jared W. Dillon (3.5)
another T.I. album. another T.I. personality split....


Comments:Add a Comment 
ManWomanBoogie
November 18th 2008



185 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this is a pretty good first review, but this album isn't really that great.

cvlts
November 18th 2008



8917 Comments


King was TI's greatest album... after that it jus kinda got repetitive, pop-hop, and boring... completely obsessed over his alterego as well haha

Digging: Pedro the Lion - It's Hard To Find A Friend

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
November 19th 2008



16071 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

King and TI vs TIP are his worst efforts by a good margin. He found what he's been looking for since King here.

Digging: Trophy Scars - Holy Vacants

bustyagunz
November 19th 2008



911 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

A year after the birth of his alter ego, Southern-born rapper T.I. still knows how to burn the charts and impress the critics.

t.i.'s had the alter ego for essentially his whole career, he just didnt use it in an entire album until last year or whenever that album came out.
pretty good first though

MiK
November 19th 2008



240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oh ok, thanks for that, bustyagunz. The split personality thing really never happen until his last album, and got me a bit confused. Thanks for the feed.

shortz
March 28th 2009



201 Comments


Good review and I agree with you on "Swagga". I love that song, beats are good though West and Lil' Wayne's rhymes sucked.

Also, don't know if it matters much now, but I think your tracklist messed. Either that or I got a completely different version...

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
March 28th 2009



17911 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

swagga like us is soooo bad

Hawks
March 29th 2009



33352 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Swagga Like Us is one of my favorites on the album. Jay-Z is pretty bad though. I thought everyone else did great. Too bad T.I. is going to prison for a fucking year.

AtavanHalen
March 29th 2009



17927 Comments


Swagga Like Us rules.

Hawks
March 29th 2009



33352 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah and whats with saying Kanye and Wayne sucked? They both completely killed it on that song IMO. Like I said, everyone did great but Jay-Z. He should never try and sing again. That was just pathetic.

AtavanHalen
March 29th 2009



17927 Comments


He didn't? They all rapped.

Hawks
March 29th 2009



33352 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well he rapped, but when he said "hova" he tried to sing it and it just didn't work.



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