Paperwork – T.I. album review

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Following both the somewhat lackluster albums, No Mercy and Trouble Man, T.I. returns with Paperwork, a 15 track project that is essentially the second in a trilogy of albums from the Atlanta emcee – the first being Paper Trail, released in 2008. There are high moments and low points on Paperwork that ultimately allow for T.I. to showcase that he deserves to remain among some of the greats. Paperwork is intricate to the point where there is a sense that there were different personas at play in the studio. Pharrell executive produced the album, and that is a characteristic he has displayed in his previous trips in that role.

The opener, “King” hearkens back to some of the Harris’ earlier cuts like “Grand Royal,” “Be Easy” and “Doin My Job.” T.I. is as fast as lightning with the rhymes. T.I. is at his best when he lets the bars flow and is not subdued. On other cuts such as “New National Anthem” or the title track, he is meditative and tempered.

The first single “About The Money” finds T.I. collaborating with Young Thug and this along with the production provided by London on da Track makes the song not only enjoyable but it is also a testament to T.I.’s longevity as a lyricist and why he is respected and renowned. With “Private Show,” “No Mediocre” and “At Your Own Risk,” T.I. looks through his portfolio rearview mirror in terms of subject matter. Each is conveyed in a similar style to that of “Hotel” or “Let’s Get Away.” This is not to say that this a bad thing but for comparison sake, the earlier cuts from previous projects work better than the presence of the club bangers and sultry seductive tunes featured here.

The Pharrell productions, “Oh Yeah,” “Paperwork” and “Light ‘Em Up (RIP Doe B)” work well here with ‘Light’ being perhaps the best of the three. As aforementioned, T.I. is at his best when he is not reflective, but fiery, brazen and loaded with bars that are unrestrained and gutsy. While ‘Light’ is a reflection into the life of a close friend, it manages to be bold in its stories told. 

At this point in his career, T.I. is a known commodity to Hip-Hop fanatics, fans and devotees of music. Paperwork is by no means a horrible album, but what seems to be missing from the T.I. cookbook this time around is what has been displayed on previous albums and that is less radio-friendly calculation that tends to cheapen the overall presentation.

Paperwork receives a PAR

PARL… Kinda Great 
PARLÉ… Classic

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