If T.I., known as the King of the South, has accomplished anything with his latest album, Paperwork, it has arguably been nothing more than demoting him to the title: “Prince of the Disjointed.” The album features a broad spectrum of techniques and musical genres culminating in an uneven sound that is tied together only by the presence of T.I.’s voice.
This is not to suggest that each song is approximately three minutes of wasted talent—“New National Anthem (ft. Skylar Grey)” and “On Doe, On Phil (ft. Trae The Truth)” each make excellent use of the featured artists’ talents for a smooth track with a strong beat and catchy hooks. Unfortunately, the entirely different feel each track has crosses the line of versatility into the realm of messy confusion, forcing what could have been T.I.’s most mature album to date seem more like a singles compilation.
T.I. makes his fatal flaw by wasting Usher’s vocal talents on “At Ya’ Own Risk.” To think that T.I. would have learned his lesson about writing lyrics with rape-undertones after “Blurred Lines” was clearly wishful thinking, as he had Usher warble out, “I don’t care if you’ve got a boyfriend or not, girl/ It’s at ya own risk if you’re kicking with me.”
T.I. claims that Paperwork will be the first instalment of a musical trilogy focused on experimentation and the rapper’s musical development. Let’s hope that in the next two albums, T.I. spends a bit more time focusing on aural unity, allowing for a sound united in its uniqueness, as opposed to divided by its diversity.