Take a moment to look away from T.I.’s ‘father of the year’ demeanor, from his hit reality show “T.I. & Tiny: Family Hustle,” as well as the many acting roles the southern native has landed over the years to focus on his ever-changing music career. If you deeply break it down, you can see just how multi-faceted the ‘King of the South’ truly is.
This being T.I.’s ninth studio new album, “Paperwork,” is the sequel to his 2008 album “Paper Trail” but also the first installment of what will lead to his 10th and 11th albums. As promised, it will be a trilogy for the eight-year rapper veteran. He has already given us summer hits like “About The Money” featuring Young Thug and “No Mediocre” alongside label mate and protégée Iggy Azalea.
This 15-track album goes through various directions as T.I. talks about everything from his early years of drugs and crime, to pop and soulful tracks with the likes of The Dream, Skylar Grey and Pharell, who also served as executive producer of the album.
While some tracks like “Jet Fuel” featuring Lil Boosie serve as a hard-bumping Southern-trap reminder that T.I. remains one of the best in the rap game, others like “Stay” which shows a softer side to the family man. It’s hard to believe that it has been close to a decade since “What You Know” was released but time has flown by and T.I. remains one of rap’s least fallen-off emcees.
There are moments on “Paperwork” where T.I. stretches his wings and tries to woo the ladies more than needed, but it is definitely a change from the usual. Granted, in the same breath he reminds us that he can still show off like a player on “No Mediocre,” in which Iggy Azalea also flexes.
With violence becoming more prevalent over the past few years between cops and African-Americans, including the killings of Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin, T.I. called for Skylar Grey to create “New National Anthem.” He wanted to denounce the country’s unpatriotic ways and rewrite a new anthem for the red, white and blue. Although such a controversial song will most likely not get any radio play, T.I. was still able to project a meaningful message against violence. T.I. also dedicates the latter part of the album to his fallen comrades. Tracks like “On Doe, On Phil,” “Light Em Up, (RIP Doe B)” and “Let Your Heart Go (Break My Soul)” pay homage to Grand Hustle signee Doe B and his late friend Philant Johnson.
“Paperwork” serves as the follow-up and continuation to “Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head” and T.I. gives us a perfect sequel with this new album. Although, there are many other guest artists, T.I. manages to leave space for himself to shine and shows us why after nearly 15 years in the business he’s still at the top of his game.