Ever since noted hip-hop taste maker Jay-Z declared the trend dead and buried on "Blueprint 3" lead-off single "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)" back in 2009, musicians have been a little more self-conscious about using the much-maligned pitch correction software. As well they should be. T-Pain, however, can't abandon the concept that literally defines him. He's even partnered with Antares, the makers of Auto-Tune, for a T-Pain branded version.
People expecting a mid-career reinvention out of T-Pain's latest opus, "rEVOLVEr" shouldn't hold their collective breath. The 14 songs that make up the album are, almost without exception, the same proof of concept sounds from his first record, the aptly named "Rappa Ternt Sanga". They're pleasant enough, sure, but the autotune effect still sounds as silly as it did when Cher first used it in 1998 on her godawful, unlikely chart-topper "Believe".
Like most modern hip-hop records, cameo appearances are everywhere on "rEVOLVEr". From the opening moments of lead-off track "Bang Bang Pow Pow", it's clear that Lil Wayne's verses are front-loaded for a reason. Appearances from Young Jeezy, Rick Ross and Joey Galaxy are a little less dependent on their guest stars, but that's only because, unlike Lil Wayne, nobody really knows them by sound alone. "It's Not You (It's Me)", featuring Chuckie and Pitbull, is the lone standout among these guest star tracks.
A stronger case can be made for "5 O' Clock", the standout, Lily Allen sampling, recent single. The track takes the best moments from Allen's 2009 single "Who'd Have Known" and chops them up with some help from flavor of the month Wiz Khalifa. The radio edit of the song, also used in the hilarious video, cuts T-Pain's second verse to great effect. It's a sad state of affairs when your music is improved substantially by diminishing your contributions to it.
It's no accident that the two R's in the title of the album are lowercase. T-Pain has said that the album represents his personal and professional evolution. For anyone listening to the album, however, it's clear that "Revolver" is the appropriate name for this record; it goes around and around, never really getting anywhere new.