Album Rating: 6.5/10
Much has changed in the industry since T-Pain’s Auto-Tuned hits like “Buy U a Drank” and “Can’t Believe It” topped the charts a few years ago. He also hasn’t released an album since Thr33 Ringz in 2008, instead staying relevant through a multitude of guest appearances on songs such as DJ Khaled’s#### single, “All I Do Is Win.”
This week, after much delay, T-Pain releases his fourth album entitled rEVOLVEr, a 17-track offering loaded with features and, of course, his signature Auto-Tuned singing. The types of songs on the album vary from slow, piano-filled ballads such as “Drowning Again,” to up-tempo electronic club bangers like “It’s Not You (It’s Me),” which features Pitbull. However, this album is heavier on the slow jams, and that ends up saving the album due to T-Pain’s club anthems not being as strong as they were in the past.
The T-Minus produced “Bang Bang Pow Pow” leads off the album as we hear T-Pain aggressively rapping about his money, (“Boatloads of cash / B*tch I’m overboard”), his lavish lifestyle (“Dropped the top on that Ferrari / Now I’m in California”), and women (“All these b*tches say I’m fly/ And can never touch the ground”). In addition, we also get a decent verse from Lil Wayne which completes the familiar “T-Wayne” persona. A few tracks later, T-Pain gets an assist from Pitbull on the electronic club banger “It’s Not You (It’s Me),” and it brings the tempo on the album to its peak.
After reaching its peak, the tempo is slowed by the Twitter-influenced ballad, “Default Picture,” as T-Pain romances with a woman “way on the other side of earth” from him. His use of Twitter lingo in the song – such as checking his mentions and timeline with her in mind – is clever, and he even sings on the hook, “I’m falling in love with your default picture.”
One of rEVOLVEr’s highlights comes on “5 O’Clock,” which samples British singer Lily Allen’s “Who’d Have Known.” The sample on the chorus of her vocals perfectly complements T-Pain’s Auto-Tuned “aahs” and “ayes,” in addition to the way he harmonizes with it. Wiz Khalifa provides a memorable guest verse, as he continues the theme of a certain early hour in the morning: “Club closed at 6, left around 4:30 / Yeah, so by the time I’m at your crib… [It’s 5 O’ Clock in the morning].”
The slow pace continues as the album progresses, only being interrupted by the Chris Brown collaboration, “Look At Her Go.” A few songs later on “Drowning Again,” we get one of rEVOLVEr’s best songs as we hear from an intimate T-Pain over a beautiful piano ballad and shy strings. The Auto-Tune is turned off on this track; it helps to increase the intimacy as T-Pain sings about love lost, and also doubles as reassurance that T-Pain can actually sing rather well without the assistance.
The last of the few standout songs on the album is called “Center of The Stage” and features singer/songwriter/producer Bei Maejor on the chorus and a verse from R. Kelly. These three bring their somewhat distinct styles together well, and Bei Maejor shines on the chorus.
Many think of T-Pain as an artist better suited for features, as he was featured on four Top 10 singles on the Billbo Hot 100 during a two-week stretch in 2007. He also won a Grammy with Kanye West for his singing on “Good Life” adding to the features argument. The fact that almost all of his past albums’ hits have included a feature also supports the same argument, which may very well be true.
In regards to rEVOLVEr, fewer club anthems and more slow jams illustrate an evolution in style from T-Pain, and with the album lacking a chart-topping signature hit like “Buy U a Drank,” a more intimate T-Pain ends up having to save the album through a few memorable ballads. Although the content on the album is similar to what we’ve heard from him in the past, the move to slower ballads works in his favor temporarily, as it saves the album from being a complete disappointment.
Check back later this week for AllHipHop.com’s full interview with T-Pain!