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Paper Trail

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Paper Trail

Paper Trail
Studio album by T.I.
Released September 26, 2008 (2008-09-26)
Recorded 2007–08
Genre Hip hop
Length 73:15
Label Grand Hustle, Atlantic
Producer T.I. (exec.), Chuck Diesel, Nard & B, Rob Knox, Danja, Toomp, Drumma Boy, Kanye West, Lil C, Jim Jonsin, Just Blaze, Justin Timberlake, Swizz Beatz, Blac Elvis, Two Band Geeks
T.I. chronology
T.I. vs. T.I.P.
Paper Trail
No Mercy
Alternative cover
Case Closed EP cover
Singles from Paper Trail
  1. "No Matter What"
    Released: April 29, 2008
  2. "Whatever You Like"
    Released: July 29, 2008
  3. "Swing Ya Rag"
    Released: August 26, 2008
  4. "What Up, What's Haapnin'"
    Released: September 2, 2008
  5. "Swagga Like Us"
    Released: September 6, 2008
  6. "Ready for Whatever"
    Released: September 23, 2008
  7. "Live Your Life"
    Released: November 4, 2008
  8. "Dead and Gone"
    Released: January 1, 2009

Paper Trail is the sixth studio album by American hip hop recording artist T.I., released September 30, 2008, on Grand Hustle Records and Atlantic Records. He began to write songs for the album as he awaited trial for federal weapons and possession charges. Unlike his past albums, he wrote his lyrics down on paper, which he had not done since his debut album, I'm Serious (2001).

The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 568,000 copies in its first week, becoming T.I.'s highest debut sales to date, and the fourth highest debut of the year. The album was eventually certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on August 27, 2009. It received generally favorable reviews from critics, and is T.I.'s most successful album to date.[1] The album spawned eight singles, four of which reached the top five of the Billboard Hot 100, with two singles peaking at number one.

Background and recording

On November 13, 2007, while awaiting trial for federal weapons charges, T.I. announced he had been writing songs for a new album to be entitled Paper Trail. He wrote his lyrics down on paper, which he had not done since his debut album, I'm Serious.[2] The album highlights his "fear, anger and guilt" as he awaited trial.[3]

T.I. recorded nearly 100 tracks during the production for Paper Trail,[4] including a collaboration with Fall Out Boy on a track entitled "Out in the Cold".[5] However the song was left out of the final cut, but T.I. told MTV that he may add some of the cut tracks to his next album.[6] On August 22, 2008, the songs "Like I Do" featuring The-Dream, "Let My Beat Pound", "My Life Your Entertainment" featuring Usher, and "Swagga Like Us" were all leaked online.[7]

The album was scheduled to be released in September 2008, but was subsequently moved up to an August 12 after the release of the promotional and lead single "No Matter What" and high demand of the album. At the time, T.I. said that the first single may have been "Top of the World", originally featuring B.o.B and Kanye West, explaining that the song was "a reflective song about our humble beginnings and how far we've come".[8] The album was pushed back for a release date of September 2, then September 9 and to its final release date of September 30, 2008, in the US.[9] The album was first released on September 29, 2008, in continental Europe.[10]

Singles and promotion

In the album's first single, the song narrates T.I. rising above his misfortunes, including a prison sentence for weapons charges.

In the second single, T.I. melodically raps along a beat of lead synthesizers and drum pattern.

Problems playing these files? See .

The first single released from the album was a song titled "No Matter What". It was posted on StreetCred's website on April 29, 2008, as a promotional recording, then released as a single on May 6, along with a music video, which he premiered on MTV's FNMTV.[11] The song narrates T.I. rising above his misfortunes, including a prison sentence for weapon charges.[12]

On August 19, 2008, the album's lead single "Whatever You Like", was made available for digital download.[11] The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 6, 2008 and set a new record for biggest one-week jump to the top position, going from number seventy-one to number one, becoming his first number one song on the chart as a lead artist and best opening-week sales by a rap track since Nielsen SoundScan began compiling download data in 2003.[13] T.I. announced that he was "ecstatic" and "overjoyed" after setting a record for the biggest jump to top of the Billboard Hot 100.[14]

After the success of "Whatever You Like", iTunes published the release dates for the upcoming singles, "Swing Ya Rag" on August 26, "What Up, What's Haapnin'" on September 2, and "Ready for Whatever" on September 23, 2008.[11][15] Additionally, a song titled "Swagga Like Us", featuring T.I., Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and Kanye West - which samples "Paper Planes" by M.I.A. - was then released as a single on September 4, for Paper Trail and debuted in the Hot 100 at number five.[7]

The album's seventh single, "Live Your Life" featuring Rihanna, broke T.I's own record for biggest leap to number one, when it jumped from number eighty to number one on the Hot 100, giving T.I. his second Hot 100 number one as a lead artist, and Rihanna her fifth overall. The song also set a first week digital record, when it sold 334,000 digital downloads in its first week of availability, a record that was previously held by Mariah Carey's "Touch My Body."[16]

The eighth single was confirmed to be "Dead and Gone" featuring Justin Timberlake, by the song's co-producer Rob Knox.[17] T.I. himself later confirmed the release of the single.[18] The song was charted by Billboard before the announcement of the single. The song reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 on February 27, 2009.[19] Overall, eight songs from the album charted on the Billboard Hot 100, including "56 Bars (Intro)", "I'm Illy" and "My Life Your Entertainment", despite not being singles. A music video was released for the song "Slide Show" which highlighted a photo collage that followed T.I.'s career as a recording artist. The track "Every Chance I Get" was featured on the promotional trailer for Armored starring Columbus Short.


Commercial performance

According to Nielsen SoundScan, Paper Trail sold 357,000 copies in the United States in its first three days[20] and went on to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 with 568,000 copies sold. It is T.I.'s best debut to date and the fourth highest debut of 2008.[21] In its second week, the album remained at number one with sales of 177,000 copies.[22] In its third week, the album fell to number two selling 131,000 copies.[23] In its fourth week, the album fell to number three selling 93,427 copies.[24] In its fifth week, the album fell to number seven selling 76,560 copies.[25] It ultimately spent 55 weeks on the Billboard 200.[26]

The album has sold over two million copies in the United States and has been certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.[27][28]

Critical response

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[29]
The A.V. Club B+[30]
Blender 3.5/5 stars[31]
Robert Christgau A–[32]
Entertainment Weekly B+[33]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[34]
Pitchfork Media 6.2/10[35]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[36]
Slant Magazine 3/5 stars[37]
USA Today 3.5/4 stars[38]

Paper Trail received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 74, based on 19 reviews.[39] Several critics praised the production on the album; Andy Kellman of Allmusic noted that DJ Toomp's and Danja's production appearance provided "some much needed punch", which placed the album above T.I.'s previous album, T.I. vs. T.I.P..[29] Margeaux Watson of Entertainment Weekly said that the "outstanding production" proved that T.I. "still knows how to have a good time".[33] Jonah Weiner of Blender wrote that "T.I. boats one of gangsta rap's most mellifluous voices and more polysyllabic lexicons, and when he combines the two, he's dazzling, hypnotic, virtuosic."[31] Michael Saba of Paste said that, "Even with the burden of sloppy crossover tracks, Paper Trail has enough standout moments for T.I.’s throne to remain secure for now."[40] MSN Music's Robert Christgau called Paper Trail an "expediently excessive piece of rich-get-richer" and gave it an "A–",[32] indicating "the kind of garden-variety good record that is the great luxury of musical micromarketing and overproduction. Anyone open to its aesthetic will enjoy more than half its tracks".[41]

Wilson McBee of Slant Magazine praised the Toomp-produced songs and called the sound "ecstasies of sweltering synth lines, ground-shaking 808 patterns and breathless verbalizing".[37] However, McBee felt that the songs that were directly about T.I.'s prison sentence for weapons charges ("No Matter What", "Ready for Whatever") were among the weakest on the album, saying that "admitting guilt, making excuses and expressing no regrets falls flat".[37] Sharing a similar sentiment, Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone called the songs "mostly dispenses with the Tupac-wannabe gangsta-confessor pretensions to deliver catchy, tight, bombastic pop-rap alongside a who's-who of megastar guests", saying that T.I. was a "well-oiled hit machine who's more fun than deep".[36]


The album earned T.I. several award nominations and wins, including a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap Album,[42] and winning a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for "Swagga Like Us" at the 51st Grammy Awards.[43] Paper Trail won 'CD of the Year' at the 2009 BET Hip Hop Awards,[44] and "Dead and Gone" was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration and Best Rap Song at the 52nd Grammy Awards.[45]


American singer Justin Timberlake appears on "Dead and Gone".

The re-release issue of Paper Trail was scheduled to be released on August 18, 2009,[46] and would contain five new songs.[47] The release was tentatively titled Paper Trail: Case Closed.[48] T.I. stated that "Like I Do" featuring The-Dream and "My Dear" featuring Ciara were two possible tracks.[49] Rob Knox, the co-producer of "Dead and Gone", was first to announce the re-release. Knox also said that the first single off the re-release would be another song produced by himself and Justin Timberlake.[17]

The first single was released on May 14, 2009 as "Don't Forget" which featured a chorus sung by Mary J. Blige. The final version was released on May 26, 2009, titled "Remember Me".[50] A video was filmed before his prison sentence by Erik White.[51] T.I. stated two other possible song choices including the collaboration with Fall Out Boy entitled "Out in the Cold" and the original version of "On Top of the World" with Kanye West instead of Ludacris.[52] A video for "Hell of a Life" was shot and was to be featured on the re-release.[53] Another song titled "The Way You Want It" was confirmed to be added to the re-release.[54] The final version of "Hell of a Life" was released on October 1, 2009, an accompanying music video was released on October 5, 2009.[55] The music video reflects T.I.'s career and narrates the final 24 hours before beginning his sentence for illegal weapons.[56]

On July 14, 2009, a spokesperson for Atlantic Records told MTV that the re-release was shelved indefinitely and the additional songs will be released digitally.[57] In August 2009, an EP was released titled Paper Trail: Case Closed EP and featured original Paper Trail singles, "Remember Me" and "Hell of a Life".[58]

Track listing
  1. Live Your Life (feat. Rihanna)
  2. Dead and Gone (feat. Justin Timberlake)
  3. Whatever You Like
  4. Remember Me (feat. Mary J. Blige)
  5. Hell of a Life

Track listing

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "56 Bars (Intro)"   Clifford Harris, Aldrin Davis DJ Toomp 3:02
2. "I'm Illy"   Harris, Charles Spencer Chuck Diesel 4:06
3. "Ready for Whatever"   Harris, Christopher Gholson Drumma Boy 5:12
4. "On Top of the World" (featuring B.o.B & Ludacris) Harris, Bernard Rosser, Brandon Rackley, Christopher Bridges, Bobby Simmons Jr. Brandon "B" Rackley, James "Nard" Rosser 5:00
5. "Live Your Life" (featuring Rihanna) Harris, Justin Smith, Makeba Riddick, Dan Bălan Just Blaze (Main/Instrumental), Makeba Riddick (Vocal) 5:38
6. "Whatever You Like"   Harris, James Scheffer, David Siegel Jim Jonsin 4:09
7. "No Matter What"   Harris, Nathaniel Hills Danja 5:15
8. "My Life Your Entertainment" (featuring Usher) Harris, Gholson, Kassim-Vonricco Washington Drumma Boy 4:56
9. "Porn Star" (additional vocals by Ricco Barrino) Harris, Cordale Quinn, Washington Lil C 3:31
10. "Swing Ya Rag" (featuring Swizz Beatz) Harris, Kasseem Dean, Avery Chambliss, Joseph Alexander The Individualz, Swizz Beatz 3:18
11. "What Up, What's Haapnin'"   Harris, Gholson, Harvey Mason Drumma Boy 5:01
12. "Every Chance I Get"   Harris, Davis DJ Toomp 4:49
13. "Swagga Like Us" (with Jay-Z featuring Kanye West, Lil Wayne & M.I.A.) Harris, Kanye West, Shawn Carter, Dwayne Carter, Maya Arulpragasam, Nicolas Headon, Michael Jones, John Mellor, Wesley Pentz, Paul Simonon Kanye West, (Additional Production by Mike Caren) 5:27
14. "Slide Show" (featuring John Legend) Harris, Elvis Williams, Simmons Blac Elvis 3:42
15. "You Ain't Missin' Nothing"   Harris, Gholson DJ Toomp 5:10
16. "Dead and Gone" (featuring Justin Timberlake) Harris, Justin Timberlake, Robin Tadross Justin Timberlake, Rob Knox 4:59
Sample credits



Chart (2008/2009) Peak
Australian Albums Chart 16[60]
Canadian Albums Chart 2[26]
Belgian Ultratop 50 Albums (Flanders) 86[61]
Dutch Albums Chart 60[10]
French Albums Chart 51[62]
Irish Albums Chart 34[63]
Japanese Albums Chart 14[64]
New Zealand Albums Chart 9[65]
Norwegian Albums Chart 34[63]
Swiss Albums Chart 46[66]
UK Albums Chart 42[67]
US Billboard 200 1[26]
US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums 1[26]
US Billboard Top Rap Albums 1[26]


Territory Certifier Certification
Australia ARIA Gold[68]
Canada MC Platinum[69]
New Zealand RMNZ Gold[70]
United Kingdom BPI Gold[71]
United States RIAA 2× Platinum[28]

See also


  1. ^ "Index : T.I. To Re-Release Paper Trail With Five New Songs - Rhapsody Music Downloads". Retrieved 2011-08-29. 
  2. ^ Crosley, Hillary (2007-11-12). "T.I. Writing Songs While Awaiting Trial".  
  3. ^ Serpick, Evan (2008-06-19). "'"Inside T.I.'s Upcoming 'Paper Trail.  
  4. ^ Reid, Shaheem (2008-05-14). "'"Even After T.I.'s Tough Year, He's Still The #10 'Hottest MC In The Game.  
  5. ^ Montgomery, James (2008-07-14). "Fall Out Boy, T.I. Team Up For Personal Song With 'Nightmare Before Christmas' Sound". MTV. Retrieved 2008-07-14. 
  6. ^ Reid, Shaheem (2008-11-10). "50 Cent Steals A Dr. Dre Beat From Eminem; T.I. Choosing Paper Trail Follow-Up's Title: Mixtape Monday". MTV. Retrieved 2008-11-10. 
  7. ^ a b c Reid, Shaheem (August 25, 2008). "T.I. Talks About 'Swagger Like Us,' Leaked Single Featuring Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Kanye West". MTV. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  8. ^ Crosley, Hillary (2008-05-07). "T.I. Moves Up Release Date Of 'Paper Trail' Album". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Archived from the original on 2008-12-05. Retrieved 2008-12-04. 
  9. ^ Concepcion, Mariel (2008-07-25). "T.I.'s 'Paper Trail' Pushed Back Three Weeks". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Archived from the original on 2008-12-05. Retrieved 2008-12-04. 
  10. ^ a b " - T.I. - Paper Trail". Hung Medien / Retrieved 2010-07-05. 
  11. ^ a b c "Countdown to Paper Trail".  
  12. ^ Reid, Shaheem (2008-04-29). "'"T.I. Releases 'No Matter What,' First Track From Paper Trail: 'Facing All Kinds Of Time, But Smile Like I'm Fine. MTV. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  13. ^ Cohen, Jonathan; Petroluongo, Silvio (2008-08-27). "T.I. Sets New Record With Hot 100 No. 1 Jump". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media). Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  14. ^ Graff, Gary (2008-08-29). "T.I. 'Overjoyed' With Huge Leap To No. 1". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Archived from the original on 2008-12-05. Retrieved 2008-12-04. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ Cohen, Jonathan (2008-10-09). "T.I Breaks Own Record With Hot 100 Burst". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  17. ^ a b Paine, Jake (2008-12-05). "'"T.I. Producer Rob Knox Explains 'Dead and Gone. HipHopDX. Retrieved 2008-12-05. 
  18. ^ Reid, Shaheem (2008-12-09). "T.I. Looks Back On His 'Outstanding' 2008, Despite Legal Woes". MTV. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  19. ^ "The Billboard Hot 100". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved 2009-03-03. 
  20. ^ Caulfield, Keith (2008-10-03). "T.I.'s 'Trail' On Track For No. 1 Debut". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  21. ^ Hasty, Katie (2008-10-08). "T.I. Debuts Big Atop Billboard 200, Hot 100". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  22. ^ Hasty, Katie (2008-10-15). "T.I. Begins Second Week Atop Billboard 200". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  23. ^ Hasty, Katie (2008-10-22). "Kenny Chesney Scores Fifth Chart-Topping Album". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved 2008-10-22. 
  24. ^ Paine, Jake (2008-10-29). "Hip Hop Album Sales: The Week Ending 10/26/08". HipHopDX. Retrieved 2008-11-06. 
  25. ^ Paine, Jake (2008-11-05). "Hip Hop Album Sales: The Week Ending 11/2/08". HipHopDX. Retrieved 2008-11-06. 
  26. ^ a b c d e "Paper Trail - T.I.". Retrieved 2010-07-05. 
  27. ^ "Upcoming Releases". HITS Daily Double. Retrieved 2011-08-29. 
  28. ^ a b "RIAA - Gold & Platinum".  
  29. ^ a b Kellman, Andy. "Paper Trail - Overview".  
  30. ^  
  31. ^ a b Weiner, Jonah. "Review: Paper Trail".  
  32. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Buena Vista Social Club, GZA/Genius, T.I. Get Nods".  
  33. ^ a b Watson, Margeaux (2008-10-01). "Paper Trail - Music Review".  
  34. ^ Batey, Angus (2008-11-21). "TI: Paper Trail".  
  35. ^ Cohen, Ian (2008-10-02). "Album Reviews: T.I.: Paper Trail".  
  36. ^ a b Rosen, Jody (2008-10-16). "Paper Trail - T.I. - Review".  
  37. ^ a b c McBee, Wilson (2008-11-29). "Music Reiew: T.I.: Papar Trail".  
  38. ^ Barnes, Ken (2008-09-29). "T.I.: Paper Trail - Local:Atlanta Music Paste: Local Reviews".  
  39. ^ Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at MetacriticPaper Trail. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2011-01-01.
  40. ^ Saba, Michael (2008-10-01). "T.I.: Paper Trail - Local:Atlanta Music Paste: Local Reviews".  
  41. ^ Christgau, Robert. "CG Keys to Icons: Grades 1990". Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  42. ^ 2009 Grammy Award Nominations Announced Daily Stab.
  43. ^ Plant/Krauss, Lil Wayne Win Big At 51st Grammys Billboard.
  44. ^ 2009 CD of the Year BET.
  45. ^ Announcing the 2010 Grammy Award Nominees! Buzz Sugar.
  46. ^ "T.I. Wins 'Viewer's Choice Award'!". 2009-06-29. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  47. ^ Chen, Stephanie (2009-03-30). "What will happen to T.I.'s career?".  
  48. ^ Check Out Some Pics From T.I.'s New Video Shoot. Trap Muzik. Accessed May 22, 2009.
  49. ^ T.I. to Re-Release 'Paper Trail'. Rap-Up. Accessed April 9, 2009.
  50. ^ Official website - Music playlist. Trap Muzik. Accessed May 26, 2009.
  51. ^ T.I. to Serve Jail Time in Arkansas. Rap-Up. Accessed May 15, 2009.
  52. ^ T.I. And Mary J. Blige Collabo 'Don't Forget' Leaks. MTV News. Accessed May 15, 2009.
  53. ^ Check Out Some Pics From T.I.'s New Video Shoot. Trap Muzik.
  54. ^ T.I. - The Way You Want It. DJ Booth. Accessed June 15, 2009.
  55. ^ New Music: T.I. – ‘Hell of a Life’ [Final]. Rap-Up. Accessed October 2, 2009.
  56. ^ T.I. Reflects On Career From Jail In 'Hell Of A Life' Video. MTV News. Accessed October 5, 2009.
  57. ^ T.I.'s Paper Trail Reissue Shelved. MTV News. Accessed July 14, 2009.
  58. ^ "Paper Trail: Case Closed - EP by T.I.".  
  59. ^ Milian, Mark (September 9, 2008). "Web Scout: Spinning through online entertainment and connected culture.".  
  60. ^ " - T.I. - Paper Trail". Retrieved 2010-07-05. 
  61. ^ " - T.I. - Paper Trail". Retrieved 2010-07-01. 
  62. ^ " - T.I. - Paper Trail". Retrieved 2010-07-05. 
  63. ^ a b "T.I. - Paper Trail - Music Charts". Retrieved 2010-07-05. 
  64. ^ T.I.のアルバム売り上げランキング.  
  65. ^ " - T.I. - Paper Trail". Retrieved 2010-07-05. 
  66. ^ "T.I. - Paper Trail -". Retrieved 2010-07-05. 
  67. ^ "Chart Stats - Ti - Paper Trail". Chart Stats. Archived from the original on 2012-07-24. Retrieved 2010-07-05. 
  68. ^ "ARIA Charts - Accreditations - 2008 Albums".  
  69. ^ "Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA): Certification Results".  
  70. ^ [1]
  71. ^ "T.I. PAPER TRAIL".  

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