The kingdom is secure: T.I.’s new album, “Paper Trail,” delivers. Although not his best album, or the most inspired recent hip-hop release, what “Paper Trail” lacks it makes up in consistency.
The big Southern beats produced by the likes of DJ Toomp and Drumma Boy pop off with all the deep bass and thick synths a fan of the genre could desire, while giving Tip plenty of room to spit his unique flavor of cocky lyricism. Songs like “Live Your Life,” “What Up, What’s Haapnin’” and “Dead and Gone” explode into arm-waving triumph.
Mega-hits “Swagga Like Us” and “Whatever You Like” bring big names and pop sheen to T.I.’s party. Although “You Ain’t Missin’ Nothing” hurts the momentum toward the end of the album, it doesn’t hit such a sour note that you’ll lose interest. It still supports the general thesis of “Paper Trail” — yes, T.I. has had some recent legal trouble, but that hasn’t dampened his devil-may-care outlook or extinguished his passion for emceeing. So haters, step aside; this album is exactly what T.I. needed to maintain his spot in the limelight: a solid collection of all the biggest and brashest aspects of mainstream hip-hop. Pop it in and let the party begin.