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T-Pain - Thr33 Ringz

2009-02-19 10:41
Thr33 Ringz
Now, at a time when we face a possible saturation of these robo-fuelled ballads and crooning-raps, does T-Pain – the self-confessed stripper-struck "rappa ternt sanga" – keep his throne as that once distinct and likeable robot-voiced misfit?

Let's face it, urban music has changed. Declarations of love have gone from being "down on bended knee" to “let’s make a reality show" – the radio struggles rivaling cell phones on who gets the hottest single first, and anything from a dance-step to a fitted Compton-cap can become a working formula that spreads an artist across the charts like wild fire. We're seeing R&B and hip-hop at their most effervescent – poppier than pop – as sweet and ephemeral as candy floss.

Enter T-Pain. He is aware of this, and he’s doggedly holding onto his spot. Case in point? In Thr33 Ringz he calls the industry his "circus" and himself its "Ringleader Man".

The album opens with a creepy Wes Craven-circus-horror keyboard arrangement that acts as a welcome mat to T-Pain's tent. It's only a dose of his imaginative production, his strongest point. Similar to the music videos he currently has on rotation, the beatmaking on Thr33 Ringz comes across diverse, innovative and textured. It's not for nothing that the album sleeve carries the theme of a circus: it's a fitting metaphor for T-Pain's unusual sonic jamboree with its abundance of snapping trap-rap fingers, its spaceship phasers, its funky, beat-boxing robots, 808's, acrobatic hooks, and occasional odes to traditional R&B bass lines.

And with staple T-Pain "rappa" and "sanga" collabos Like "Chopped N Skrewed" with Ludacris, "Can’t Believe It" with Lil' Wayne and "Therapy" with Kanye West, Thr33 Ringz is likely to win over any already established fan.

But if you're an avid listener of urban music from yester-year, you'll find that for every point T-pain receives for his production and a solid, versatile voice (without the use of auto-tune), he misses a step in his songwriting. This becomes apparent half-way through the album when the auto-tune begins to wear thin and tiresome, forcing you to listen. The guests on the album also seem to be bending themselves more to T-Pain's brand of ultra-lite urban-pop anthems rather than bringing themselves over musically. With gems like "I don’t need your sex I’ll masturbate" you can’t help but feel, at times, either too old or too sobre listening to this album. As if you'd be better fitted drunkenly sauntering around a nightclub somewhere, where the lyrics are indiscernible, and you're spilling your drink from being jostled around by a blurry bevy of teenage girls.

Who, no doubt, would probably be 'getting it'.
Back in 2005, T-Pain burst through the speakers of hip-pop scenesters like a deafening robotic clarion call. After that nothing was the same: every 'rappa' and 'sanga' wanting to keep their corner on the urban charts had to wake up, adjust their auto-tune, and learn to repeat after him.

What to read next: Kalahari

Nishen 2009-02-19 12:26 PM
it's a pity about the chris brown controversy cos Freeze might have done much better than it is currently.. (certain radio stations are pulling out all the CB tracks from their playlists)

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