Dying for some new hip-hop to jam to? T.I.’s ninth studio album, “Paperwork,” was released Tuesday, Oct. 21 is now available everywhere. The album is the first we’ve heard from him in nearly two years except for his appearance in “Blurred Lines,” his contribution to the kickstart the career of Iggy Azalea, and some slight acting endeavors. T.I.’s career peak is certainly in the past, but this new album is the first edition of a big project which could revitalize him — an upcoming trilogy he’ll be working on as a new grand project for his recording contract with Columbia Records. Many things have changed for T.I. (born as Clifford Harris) in recent years. He now has a new recording contract (he was previously with Atlantic Records) and is also busy with the role of being a father with his two sons and wife Tameka Cottle. Thankfully for the benefit of his career’s future, “Paperwork” was received quite well among the world of pop culture. Some say this is T.I.’’s best record in years.
T.I. raps on this album with a sort of excitement that lacked in his verses from the last six years. The tracks all intertwine into this pump up flow of youth and unpredictability, which makes it apparent that T.I. is trying to rekindle the passion and skill that made him famous. “Paperwork” also incorporates plenty of collaborations to drag big names onto the Grand Hustle (T.I.’s record company launched in 2003) bandwagon. We hear a lot from Pharrell Williams (an executive producer of the album), as well as tracks with Chris Brown, Skylar Grey, Usher, Rick Ross, Iggy Azalea and a few other pop artists looking for attention through T.I.’s fame. Overall the album fits together nicely, with an interesting commentary on struggles of reality and society when T.I. attempts to get personal with the audience (like with his musings on America’s gun culture in “New National Anthem”). Listeners accustomed to T.I.’s sound will find “Paperwork” easy to listen to, with the combination of intriguing new melodic hooks and powerfully insightful lyrics that we haven’t seen from T.I. for so long.
There is no doubt this album requires a full listen through to get the true feel for it. In doing this, listeners will understand the message T.I. is trying to underlay beneath his tunes, which is that he is back, he’s trouble and he’s found a higher meaning in his music that he’s determined to pursue. Not everyone will see that higher meaning as clearly as T.I., but it’s worth a shot. “Paperwork” is available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Music, Spotify and basically anywhere else on the internet, in both the standard and deluxe versions, so pick it up if you’re interested in the future of T.I. or in the world of pop culture.