T.I.‘s a curious character. Once a critically acclaimed underground star with the release of his sophomore album- Trap Muzik, then an unstoppable chart behemoth with the success of Paper Trail, present day; he’s in and out of jail and releasing pretty mediocre music in the form of No Mercy. This is the man who made Kanye West, JAY Z and Lil Wayne look average on Swagga Like Us not to long ago, at least in my opinion.
Paperwork marks T.I.’s first album since 2012’s forgettable Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head. This time round he’s enlisted Pharrell to exec produce the project and at the beginning of the album, it’s a noticeably smart move. The opening track is a great song to commence the album what with the boastful egotistical themes, as the listener you’re genuinely ready to hear why T.I. calls himself a king. The following Pharrell-produced G’Shit welcomes both the productional guest spot, as well as a Jeezy verse. The album continues in the same sort of manner, blips of brilliance from Tip himself come about every now and again, particularly with New National Anthem, with the infectious chorus plus a quick-fire beat ready for T.I.’s even quicker wordplay, it’s the T.I. we all know and love back again.
Beyond these early highlights, there’s not a whole lot that’s memorable. T.I.‘s ad-libs/commentary over every line are starting the wear thin after a near-twenty-year career and towards the end of Paperwork you’re starting to wonder why you’re bothering anymore. By the time you’re at track 7, past the predictable Chris Brown feature, the odd thing is that you welcome an Iggy Azalea guest spot- T.I.’s voice just annoys me at this point.
On the whole, Paperwork was exactly what I expected it to be. Much like Chris Brown’s X, it’s just the lack-lustre, mediocre album you’d expect from an emcee on a decline towards retirement. At some points the album is simply strange such as with the Pharrell– infested title track, while listening you are quite literally thinking ‘what the fuck is this’. Paperwork has a few early things to appreciate, as I mentioned, the opening track is a belter, but without the consistency or quality across the duration of the album, it ultimately just comes up short.
Verdict – WW