Spun: T.I.

By Jennifer Trieu

After a hip-hop career littered with music making, weapons charges, beat-thumping and a conviction for drug possession, T.I. attempts to clear the air with some optimism on his latest album, Paper Trail. Instead of extensively recounting his brushes with the law on his sixth studio effort, the southern rapper pumps out a mix of mediocre and catchy songs that attempt to transfer attention from his drama-ridden life to his most recent musical mixings of southern swagger.

Though the album’s first single, “No Matter What” failed to climb to the top of the charts in early 2008, T.I. has found success with the catchy, but generic, gold-digger anthem, “Whatever You Like.” Hip-hop powerhouses Kanye West, Jay-Z and Lil Wayne attempt to out-swagger each other on “Swagga Like Us” and unfortunately, create a messy collaboration in the process. To some extent, T.I. does redeem himself in his partnerships with Rihanna on the album’s latest single, “Live Your Life” and Justin Timberlake on “Dead and Gone.” These strong and smooth songs cleverly complement the talents of both vocalists and T.I on this record.

Paper Trail is a decent album, but not, by any means, a masterpiece. T.I. isn’t particularly innovative on his latest effort and sells himself short in recording typical songs about money, girls and living the extravagant lifestyle of a hip-hop artist. These generic ditties ultimately dash the southern rapper’s hopes of making Paper Trail a unique and refreshing album that stands out amongst the works of his contemporaries.