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3 November, 2014@12:35 am

After completing his contract with Atlantic Records, what does the self-proclaimed and eventually deserved “king of the south” do to keep things interesting on his first album for Columbia, Paperwork? Team up with Pharrell, of course. The two made magic together on one of the biggest breakthrough singles of 2013, Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” so it’s fitting that Tip would hire him to executive produce the new album, probably much to the dismay of his former label.

Pharrell doesn’t produce every track-this isn’t quite Lord Willin’ part two-but he does oversee the album in full, and you can hear his footprint in places. The superb title track, “Paperwork,” is easily the album’s strongest track, as Tip recounts moments in his childhood over soulful production from P and a chorus inspired by Sam Cooke. As Tip said in his recent Cuepoint interview, “Pharrell offers a very diverse look at art,” which shows on the album, as none of their collaborations sound alike, whether it the brooding “Oh Yeah” or the excellent dedication to fallen Grand Hu$tle artist “Light Em Up [RIP Doe B].”

Tip plays to his core audience on much of the rest of the album, separating himself from the Pharrell influence from time-to-time. He scores top marks on the album’s runaway hit single “About The Money,” which finds him jelling with Young Thug to perfection, while the banging “Jet Fuel” with Boosie ignites fire. And the album kicks off strongly with the 1500 or Nothin’ produced “King,” where he elects himself for a third term over some triumphant chipmunk soul.

Paperwork has many strong moments, but its not without its faults. The lead single on the album, “No Mediocre” with Iggy Azalea is actually pretty mediocre, while the politically tinged follow-up, “New National Anthem” with Skylar Grey doesn’t know what it wants to be: a track with a message or just plain radio fodder, falling flat on both sides. Meanwhile, a pair of slow jams with Chris Brown (“Private Show”) and Usher (“At Ya’ Own Risk”) are more or less interchangeable. Both will likely get radio or strip club play, yet neither inspire or break new ground.

Paperwork is one of T.I.’s better albums in recent memory, but truth be told, we’re all waiting for him to recapture the success of his strongest LP, 2006′s King. This being the first of a trilogy, we’re curious to see what else he has in store, but perhaps the best move would have been to cut the three part series down into one incredibly solid project. Time will tell.

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7 Responses to "T.I. – “Paperwork” – @@@1/2 [Review]"
  • Mitch 3K says:

    Tip played to his strengths back in the day, he was one of the few cats in the south over the last 15 years that could manage to get a song as hard as “You Don’t Know Me” on the radio as a hit single and still flow decent. Don’t get me wrong, I would never have him in my top 50 even lol but he knew his limits and played to his strengths. While Wayne had to sing about Lolli pops to break through, Tip was selling platinum off singles like “ASAP”, I respected that….. Now he’s basically just as soft as everybody else.

  • Hodges says:

    It’s interesting hearing people from other regions views on Tip. I was a fan early on up until his second album (arguably his best performance was on a couple promotional freestyles titled “Jackin For Beats 1 and 2″, check Em out if you can). It’s still surprising to me that he “blew up” nationally as much as he did right when the quality of his music rapidly declined. That’s commercial radio and it’s patrons for you I guess.

    I agree the title track is dope, though.

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