T-Pain - Thr33 Ringz

Posted November 11, 2008
Tags: T-Pain,

The world has never seen anything like T-Pain. Pain is currently the most prolific hit-maker...

Thr33 Ringz Album Review

The world has never seen anything like T-Pain. Pain is currently the most prolific hit-maker alive, but on paper he should never have made it out of Tallahassee. Let’s be honest: the man isn’t good looking (I doubt he could bench press a waffle), wears ridiculous hats (seriously T-Pain?), and is an above average singer at best (even with the infamous auto-tune). So why is he so epically successful? Because his style’s perfectly bridged the ever-shrinking gap between radio rap and R&B, he has an incredible ear for melody, and he embeds his robotic vocals with surprising soul. That soul is the reason the mob of T-Pain knockoffs can’t replicate his sound, and the reason I’m shockingly still not sick of him. We’ve never seen anything like T-Pain, and we probably never will again.

T-Pain’s place outside the traditional music industry rules makes it hard to truly evaluate him. The true measure of an artist was always the album, but considering his plethora of guest features it’s perfectly conceivable that Pain could break Mariah’s number-one singles record without putting out another album. With that in mind, I introduce Pain’s latest confusingly spelled opus, Thr33 Ringz, a collection of singles that are boringly predictable and borderline insane. What else would you expect from someone who thinks he’s running a circus?

The only person who comes close to Pain’s almost indescribable status in the game is Weezy, so it’s fitting that T-Wayne (as they will henceforth be called) teamed up for Ringz first hit, the slowly enveloping Can’t Believe It. There’s nothing complicated about Believe It – the production’s a knocking bass, ambient synths and not much else - but its simplicity is its genius. That and T-Wayne’s ability to rhyme “mansion” and “Wisconsin.” On the other end of the scale is Freeze, an up-tempo track asking the ladies to stop acting pretty and get the hell down on the dance floor. I’m secure enough in my manhood to admit I thought Kiss Kiss was a dope track, so Chris Brown’s appearance on Freeze is an expected but welcome addition. The truest testament to Pain’s golden touch is that everyone’s asking not if Ringz will have a hit single, but how many. If Vegas were taking wagers, I’d bet the bank on at least three. Anyone got money that says otherwise?

As catchy as tracks like Freeze and Believe It are, they’re really not that remarkable in comparison to Pain’s previous work. If he’s a different artist on Ringz than on Epiphany it’s because of his R. Kelly-ization, a term I just invented to describe artists who seem to have lost the filter between their private thoughts and the songs they write. Just take Long Lap Dance, a banging five-minute slow jam whose sole existence is because “she took off her thong, then the song was over, that’s so wrong. So I made a long lap dance song.” Today I salute you T-Pain, a true American genius. On the same double-take spectrum is Therapy, a tightly bouncing break-up song featuring a “I don’t need your sex I’ll masturbate” hook and a typically dope verse from Kanye. Other critics have called him shallow, but knocking Pain for depth is like bashing birthday cake for it’s lack of nutritional value – it’s supposed to be delicious, not nourishing. If Ringz is any indication we’re about five years away from an auto-tuned Trapped In The Closet; personally, I can’t wait.

T-Pain’s debut album was titled Rappa Ternt Sanga, so it shouldn’t be surprising that he spends a solid portion of Ringz indulging his rapper fantasy. The album starts with a painfully bad skit (not for the first time) and then quickly transitions into outright rhymes. It’s not terrible, but when your best line is “this n**gga pocket bigger than Santa Claus” you’re not exactly Rakim. That’s nothing compared to Karaoke, a song that’s Pain’s version of a street banger. Pain’s right to point out that sweating his auto-tune style is an epidemic, but he’s just not made to be a battle rapper. And I can’t be the only one who thinks Khaled calling other people untalented is ironic. If you want to hear what true mic talent sounds like check out Luda’s contribution to Chopped N’ Skrewed, but after a laundry list of hits, Pain deserves to indulge. The man’s re-written the rules of the game, and while Ringz is far from groundbreaking, it will further cement his status as the King of the Radio: a top-hat wearing, stripper-loving, robotic-voiced King.

DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins

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Posted November 11, 2008
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