It’s a rhetorical question, but when will the current rap/R&B hybrid max out on ridiculousness? Acts like R. Kelly and Lil Jon still producing music ensure that it won’t be happening anytime soon, and during lulls in the old guard’s output, young guns like T-Pain will keep the freak flag flying.

I realize this write-up comes a full year after Epiphany dropped in the clubs, but there are still a number of these tracks kicking around the dance floor and urban radio stations to make it somewhat timely. In light of so many new acts latching on to the autotuner (vocal processor), perhaps it’s even more relevant now.

Epiphany slathers on the robo-voice for almost all of T-Pain’s crooning moments, playing with the assumption that nothing is more sexy than the sound of binary. No tracks specifically benefit or suffer from this spread, although its ubiquitousness ends up dulling its impact over the course of the album.

When T-Pain lets his gnashing raps take over, he definitely sounds harder and more authentic. Still his rhymes about violence, sex, drugs, and bling aren’t even close to breaking any new ground.

Perhaps the two tracks where he comes closest to “whoa” moments are “Suicide,” a relation of his reaction to finding out one of his recent flings has HIV (total buzzkill, by the way) and “Time Machine” in which he wishes he could build the titular object to go back to when he got more enjoyment out of life. Both are pretty heavy tracks for an act who’s more likely to be remembered for lines like “I can turn a ho into a housewife” and his ode to the midriff “Yo Stomach.” It’s actually nice to hear the absurdly funny and witty backdrop dotted with moments of true pathos. Even the thank-yous in his liner notes fit the model — God gets “Thank U God” and he closes his lengthy list of props with “PEACE BITCHES!!!!!!!!!!” Ridiculous indeed.

T-Pain: www.t-pain.net

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