T-Pain

Epiphany (Jive)

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T-Pain crunk-and-B Akon T-Pain
The epiphany T-Pain experienced prior to recording his sophomore album seems to have been this: If I keep on emulating my mentor, Akon, I will sell a shitload of records.

That's hardly an earth-shattering realization, but at least it's accurate. Epiphany recently debuted at no. 1 with a sound even more indebted to Akon's softcore thuggery than the Tallahassee singer's 2005 debut, Rappa Ternt Sanga. He has sugared his crunk-and-B to fructose levels common to Radio Disney. In fact, the heavily processed vocal hooks allow lesser revelations, like the jiggly, X-rated pleasures of "Yo Stomach," to slide right on past.

Ironically, the thing that keeps this disc from being just another slick throwaway with a couple of fun singles is also T-Pain's greatest weakness: the love for melodrama he shares with Akon (and his other obvious influence, the noted videographer R. Kelly). He has yet to harness his over-the-top tendencies, but the misplaced ambition of odes like "Suicide" and the HIV-positive scenario "I Got It" suggests the possibility of real epiphanies in the future.

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