Paper Trail

Band: T.I.
Album: Paper Trail
Best song: “Live Your Life” and “Swagga Like Us” are great. The song with Ludacris, “On Top of the World” is pretty good. “Whatever You Like” is nice.
Worst song: “Every Chance I Get” isn’t good.

Let me get the non-political stuff out the way before I get into the meat of my opinion of Paper Trail. First, I will always love T.I. as a lyricist, if only for “Rubberband Man.” In the song, T.I. calls himself “Wild as the Taliban” (by the way, this was 2003, when terrorism was much scarier than it is now) and then says, hello, that he’s “worth a couple hundred grand.” A rapper that doesn’t fancy himself a millionaire? Sign me up.

Similarly, “Swagga Like Us” is a real winner. Of course, Kanye West’s mediocre verse is forgiven because of his stellar production, using an M.I.A. sample to drive a star-studded song. Lil Wayne’s verse is, not surprisingly, the best, but T.I.’s song ender is nice.

“Live Your Life,” Paper Trail‘s third single is the example of why Paper Trail bugs me. It’s a marvelous hook, taking a sample from Moldovan group O-Zone’s “Dragostea din tei,” with the unmeasurably talented (and attractive) Rihanna chirping over said hook. The video is stylized and cool, with shots of the Los Angeles river.

But, the lyrics… T.I. acting high and mighty is not a thing that fits him well. Telling someone that “Your values is a disarray, prioritizing horribly” is not a powerful statement from someone who was sentenced to 366 days for, essentially, having an illegal arsenal.

And that’s my problem with T.I. I’m not someone who thinks all American laws are perfect or that civil disobedience is bad. But, too much of Paper Trail has T.I. defending himself with the “walk in my shoes” notion.

I disagree. I don’t need to walk in your shoes to know that having that many guns is bad. Or that buying guns illegally is bad.

Look, I’m not saying that T.I shouldn’t have guns. Yes, his life is different than mine and we do live in a world which crazy men exist and I’m sure many of them want T.I.’s money. And, hey, the second amendment exists.

But, again, T.I. can have many, many legal guns to protect himself. It’s not a tough law to figure out.

So, when he does the following in the breakdown of “Ready for Whatever” … Bad times.

i mean look at folk like sean taylor
you know what they said they said had he had a strap
he woulda lived today
you know what im sayin
now true enough i was dead wrong i broke the law
i deserve to be punished i understand that’s right cool
but listen man i gotta house full of kids
a mama and an old lady who life in my
responsibility you dig that!?

Um, yeah. It’s not as though Sean Taylor needed an illegal gun.

Look, prison sounds like it fucking sucks. And there are plenty of laws out there that are unfair — I’m thinking drug laws mainly. But, you did something dangerous and wrong, T.I. You have to face it.

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