Grand Hustle/Atlantic 512267

Executive producers: T.I.P., Jason Geter

Track listing: 56 Bars (Intro) / I’m Illy / Ready for Whatever / On Top of the World / Live Your Life / Whatever You Like / No Matter What / My Life Your Entertainment / Porn Star / Swing Ya Rag / Swagga Like Us / Slide Show / You Ain’t Missin’ Nothing / Dead and Gone



October 18, 2008
2 weeks

Nearly 40 years after Johnny Cash at San Quentin — an album recorded at a California prison — topped the chart, rapper T.I. scored his third consecutive chart-topper with Paper Trail. The album wasn’t recorded while T.I. was behind bars; rather while he was under house arrest awaiting trial for possession of unregistered machine guns and silencers, and possession of firearms by a convicted felon.

On October 13, 2007, just hours before he was set to appear at the BET Hip-Hop Awards, T.I. was arrested by federal authorities in the parking lot of an Atlanta Walgreens attempting to purchase guns from a federal agent. The 28-year-old self-proclaimed “king of the South” was subsequently sentenced to a year in prison, beginning in March 2009, after he completes 1,000 hours of community service. With history of trouble with the law and impending imprisonment, the 28-year-old father of five sounded like a changed man on Paper Trail.

“To specifically talk about guns and drugs in that fashion, I won’t be able to do that because it’s not a part of my life anymore,” the rapper, born Clifford Harris, told Jonathan Landrum Jr. of the Associated Press.

That was reflected on the album in cuts such as “Dead and Gone,” featuring Justin Timberlake. “It’s about leaving behind certain ways that aren’t conducive to progression,” T.I., told Landrum Jr. “It’s also in relation to certain friends that aren’t here right now.”

The friend that T.I. is referring to is likely Philant Johnson, T.I.’s close friend and personal assistant, who was killed in a 2006 shooting at an after-show party at Cincinnati nightclub. T.I. later named one of his children Major Philant Harris after his late friend.

Timberlake, who T.I. had previously collaborated on the Grammy-winning hit “My Love,” isn’t the only high-profile guest on Paper Trail. “Swagga Like Us” features guest appearances by Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West, who also produced the track. The song samples M.I.A.’s hit “Paper Planes,” which sampled the Clash’s “Straight to Hell.” All four members of the Clash received songwriting credits along side the rappers and M.I.A. Other guests on the album include Usher on “My Life Your Entertainment,” Rihanna on “Live Your Life,” Ludacris on “On Top of the World,” Swizz Beatz on “Swing Ya Rag,” and John Legend on “Slide Show.”

Weeks before the release of Paper Trail, the album’s first single, “Whatever You Like,” made a record-setting climb from number 71 to the top of the Hot 100 singles chart, priming the public for Paper Trail. Given the success of the first single, T.I.’s track record and the album’s all-star guests, it was no surprise when Paper Trail debuted at the summit with sales of 568,000 copies, according to SoundScan. To make the triumph even sweeter, the album’s second single, “Live Your Life,” rocketed from number 80 to number one, replacing “Whatever You Life” to give T.I. simultaneous number ones on The Billboard 200 albums chart and the Hot 100 singles list.

THE TOP FIVE
Week of October 18, 2008

1. Paper Trail, T.I.
2. Jennifer Hudson, Jennifer Hudson
3. Something Else, Robin Thicke
4. Covers, James Taylor
5. Death Magnetic, Metallica





Here’s T.I.’s video clip for “Whatever You Like”


 …and “No Matter What”


 


 

Grand Hustle/Atlantic 512267

Executive producers: T.I.P., Jason Geter

Track listing: 56 Bars (Intro) / I’m Illy / Ready for Whatever / On Top of the World / Live Your Life / Whatever You Like / No Matter What / My Life Your Entertainment / Porn Star / Swing Ya Rag / Swagga Like Us / Slide Show / You Ain’t Missin’ Nothing / Dead and Gone

October 18, 2008
2 weeks

Nearly 40 years after Johnny Cash at San Quentin — an album recorded at a California prison — topped the chart, rapper T.I. scored his …