As auto-tune started to return to the music industry, many of us awaited the return of T-Pain, the artist most notorious for using it. Solo tracks and features came and went, even the T-Wayne project with Lil Wayne surfaced online. Still no album. Finally, six years after rEVOLVEr, he returns with his fifth full-length album, OBLiViON.
Running at 16 songs in length, T-Pain makes his triumphant return with a new chip, or maybe an even bigger one, on his shoulder. Unlike many artists who return after a long hiatus, T-Pain doesn’t show any signs of discomfort or being a misfit. Instead, he’s able to blend aspects of today’s sound with his own without it sounding awkward. T-Pain doesn’t hold anything back either. As he is known for, songs on the album detail various aspects of love and relationships. After facing criticism for his use of auto-tune over the years, he even takes the time to address said critics.
The album’s opening track, “Who Died,” is a loud and rebellious response to that exact issue. T-Pain presents a braggadocios attitude while rapping about those that threw dirt on his name. With lines like, “If you ain’t call me when you fly/ Don’t call me when you in a nose dive/ Cause I remember all that Twitter shit/ I thought you said that it was your time,” Pain shows his newfound intolerance for those who once hated on him. This same attitude is found in many other instances throughout the album. On “That’s How It Go,” T-Pain raps that his money, luxurious items, and exuberant lifestyle are normal to him, while it may be extravagant and crazy to others, “I bet them coppers won’t stop me/ Once they see what I got popping/ Just know.”
While T-Pain carries this borderline cockiness throughout the album, he balances it out with slow to mid-tempo ballads discussing his relationships. “Textin’ My Ex,” one of the pre-release singles, has T-Pain drunk texting a past fling hoping his current lady doesn’t catch him. Moving to “May I,” he tries to convince a girl to give him one more chance, one last dance, so that he can win her heart.
Different sounds and styles in the music industry have been introduced since T-Pain’s last album. While some have stayed and others have gone, he tries out sounds that we’ve barely heard or have yet to hear in his career. On “No Rush,” T-Pain credits a special girl for changing him from an asshole to a good guy. Over the trappy EDM beat, he makes a promise to the girl singing, “Baby, take your time and I’ll be here waiting.” Linking up with Wale on “Cee Cee From DC,” T-Pain takes on DC’s go-go sound as they show love to a girl that represents the city’s culture
Despite not dropping a full-length album in six years, T-Pain hasn’t lost a step and he shows the growth he’s experienced as an artist. OBLiViON is a solid project from top to bottom, however, doesn’t feature any songs that will stand out within his discography. There aren’t any songs that will impact or reach multitude that “Can’t Believe It,” “Bartender” or even the more recent “5 O’clock” did. T-Pain lets us know that in no way did his absence affect his ability to make great music. OBLiViON won’t go down as a classic T-Pain project nor will it go down as one of this year’s best R&B projects. Instead, it’s a solid offering that’ll hold us over until the next one.
Which, hopefully, doesn’t take six years to arrive.