Album: Paper Trail
Label: Grand Hustle/Atlantic
In at #14, we've got my pick for best hip hop record of the year, T.I.'s Paper Trail. Another Grammy-nominated album on the list, this may be the definitive party playlist of 2008. Track after track, collaboration after collaboration, I was hooked in on first listen, as T.I. compiles a superstar cast to lay yet another claim to being the "King of Southern Hip Hop". Now, I'll admit that Paper Trail is extremely radio friendly, with instant hits like "Whatever You Like", and though I can probably do without one or two of the several samples taken from M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes", I can't say there's much left to be desired here.
You know how nearly every rap album, save the best and most memorable, have those couple of filler tracks? Not present here. No, I can't think of one song on Paper Trail that I would consider it being better off without. I'll stop that train of thought there, before this turns into pure T.I. homerism. This 16-track club theme song starts with strong opener "56 Bars (Intro)". From there, some of the money tracks include "On Top of the World," featuring Ludacris and B.o.B., the aforementioned "Whatever You Like," and of course, my personal favorite, the fun and talent-packed "Swagga Like Us". The track features Jay-Z, Kanye West and Lil' Wayne, and, like the album itself, was nominated for a Grammy (best rap compilation). Everyone I know agrees that no track has kicked that much ass this year, so look for it as the standout of the record. Some comparisons for this one- Young Jeezy, Young Buck, The Game.
Best Track: "Swagga Like Us"