written by: Carla Bynum
Paperwork: The Motion Picture is homage to T.I.’s sixth and most commercially successful and diverse album Paper Trail released in 2008 and is the first of what we can expect to be a trilogy.
The first song on Paperwork is “King” and with its cinematic nature, it sets the theatrical tone for the entire album. T.I. let listeners know why he’s still the king. He believes he has become more successful because of the test’s he’s had throughout his life. That’s why you should bow to the king.
“G’ Shit” features fellow Atlanta-rapper Young Jeezy and Soulstep trio Watch the Duck and is dedicated to the people who live in the ghetto. Despite their successes, they are still on their gangsta shit.
One of the album’s lead singles is the London On Da Track-produced song “About the Money” which also features the usually misunderstood Young Thug. If you aren’t coming to T.I. with new ways to increase his money, you ain’t sayin’ nothin’. Don’t call him trying to blow up his phone because he only cares about his money.
Singer-songwriter Skylar Grey assists T.I. on the song “New National Anthem,” a song about the violence in America. He compares the violence in the projects to the wars in the Middle East and wonders why murder is so common. Killings in America happen so frequently that we aren’t even surprised anymore. We live in America, the Land of the Free but there are so many unjust killings that we are now the “Land of the Handgun.”
The song was first released in the wake of the Mike Brown murder. He didn’t want to start a protest but he wants to be a part of it. Following the first verse, he reenacts a scene between a young black man as he’s killed by a cop, something that seems to happen quite often. This is an inspirational song that is perfectly timed. He encourages listeners to stop waiting for other people to help you and help yourself. This is certainly a standout on the album.
Pharrell adds his vocals to the song “Oh Yeah” and warns about the people who don’t even know you will judge you, give you the side eye and spread rumors when you make it big. But you can’t hold T.I. down, he’s too busy making money so he just says “f*** the haters” and goes about his business.
T.I.’s woman is giving him a “Private Show” and he wants to see her take everything off. He wants to leave marks on her body from their love making and spontaneity. Chris Brown provides vocals for the song.
The album’s first single “No Mediocre” is produced by West Coast producer DJ Mustard and features the first lady of Grand Hustle Iggy Azalea. T.I. has high expectations for the women in his life. He only likes the best and nothing less.
Mike WiLL Made It produced the song “Jet Fuel” which features Lil Boosie. T.I. let’s all the lames know they can’t get on his level even with his bank account.
The album’s title song “Paperwork” features Pharrell Williams and is a coming of age tale. The song has an old school feel and details T.I.’s life growing up and being a drug dealer.
T.I. wants the lady in his life to stop playing games and being foolish because he loves her and knows that she loves him too. The song features singer Victoria Monet.
If you’re thinking about putting T.I. in the same category with a fraud, then don’t because you’ll never meet a guy with as much heart as him. “About My Issue” features Victoria Monet and Nipsey Hussle.
It’s “At Ya Own Risk” if you decide to kick it with T.I. or Usher on this song because they’ll have you doing things you didn’t think you would.
“On Doe, On Phil” is a play on the popular phrase “on my mama” which symbolizes how serious a person is in a conversation. They are so serious that they put it on their mama’s grave (if she is deceased). Instead of using his mother, he uses his best friend Philant and his “little brother” Doe B to get his point across.
Pharrell and Watch the Duck join T.I. on the song “Light Em Up (R.I.P. Doe B),” a song dedicated to his aforementioned protégé Doe B. Doe B was a rapper from Alabama who was murdered in December 2013 at a bar in his hometown of Montgomery. The passing of his “little brother” hurt him because Doe B was supposed to make it. He wasn’t even able to see the success of his debut album, which was released posthumously. T.I. put his lighter up to pay respect to his lost friend.
“Let Your Heart Go (Break My Soul)” is another song dedicated to his homies. He raps about his friend Tremaine who passed away and his boy Cal who got life in prison. Although they are now just memories, he won’t let their hearts go. The song features singer-songwriter-producer The-Dream.
The song “Sugar Cane” is about living that good, sweet life.
T.I. doesn’t know what you heard about him on the track “I Don’t Know” but he won’t take any shit from anyone. The song is dedicated to his children Messiah, Domani, Deyjah, Major, King and Zonnique. His children have made him a better person because they need him around to teach them different things. He wonders what his kids would think if he ended up in jail. He continues to use them as motivation to stay on a straight and focused path.
Rapper Rick Ross joins T.I. on the final track on the album “You Can Tell How I Walk,” where T.I. explains how his demeanor, walk and speech solidify him as a boss and the King of the South.
Paperwork: The Motion Picture is a diverse album that shows many different sides of the southern rapper. We get a chance to experience the King, the Lover, the Boss and a more sentimental side of the rapper. The album perfectly shows T.I.’s growth over the past 13 years and in my opinion is one of his better albums.
Recommended Tracks: “New National Anthem,” “King,” “Paperwork,” “I Don’t Know,” “Light Em Up”