On The Imminent Return of T-Pain

todayApril 21, 2015 3 1

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by Tafari Robertson
KTSW Music

T-Pain Album
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There was once a time when an American radio could not be turned on without hearing T-Pain’s characteristically robotic crooning on the hook of every song; a time when hot 100 charts still mattered and ill-intentioned eighth graders at the back of the bus obnoxiously declared your sexuality for you. Though record charts and eighth graders are a thing of the past hopefully never to return, T-Pain has secured his longevity by way of a sans auto tune performance for NPR’s tiny desk concert series that touched hearts all over the world and, most recently, a mix tape mysteriously titled The Iron Way.

Opening with murderous anthem, “Kill These N****s,” T-Pain delivers with impeccable energy a mix tape that reestablishes himself as the tour de force of both R&B and Hip Hop he once was. Almost four years since his last full release, The Iron Way offers a surprising showcase of versatility from both T-Pain and his Khaled-esque producers, Dj Drama and Trendsetter Sense. Enlisting everything from a(n) homage to Jamaican Dancehall music on hard-hitting second track “Disa My Ting” to an unexpected feature from industry youngling, OG Maco, on “Wait a Minute”, Pain pulls out all the stops to create an overall very enjoyable mix tape with a little bit of something for everybody. Tracks such as “Let Ya Hair Down” and “Heartbeat” stand to remind us throughout that T-Pain is not afraid to slow it down when necessary and provide well placed balance to bangers like the aptly named, “Booty Butt *ss.”

Though not every song hits as hard as intended and the tape for the most part lacks any sort of cohesion, one of the more powerful motifs that jumps to the forefront of this effort is the fact that T-Pain seems to have thoroughly enjoyed himself while making this mix tape in a way that becomes infectious the more you listen to it. Off kilter samples of Sylvester Stallone and a bit about weed from comedian Katt Williams are placed in between songs in a way that seems sort of pointless other than that Pain probably just liked them and wanted them on his mix tape. While random as far as the tape goes, things like this are reflective of a larger shift in rap music overall. T-Pain has created a mix tape that no artist other than T-Pain could have created and, while it is chock full of radio-friendly pop hits that many a hip hop head may scoff at, it’s also full of a personality and enthusiasm that up until recently many rap albums seem to have been missing. Though it’s no pioneer, The Iron Way is part of a new wave of hip-hop that reflects the personality of its creator and rejects the notion that it should or shouldn’t be anything at all.

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