(Nappy Boy Entertainment)
How has T-Pain done it? He’s not attractive, his fashion-sense leaves much to be desired (for those without Dr. Seuss/ LSD fetishes, in any case), and without the benefit of auto-tune his voice is nothing special. And yet, considering his hip hop and R&B radio dominance, his claim to be “ringleader of the game” can’t be argued with.
The circus theme informs Pain’s third album, Thr33 Ringz, in which his task is moving beyond singles towards a memorable CD. Sadly, unfunny skits clog it up (“She had five different niggas’ names tattooed on her left ass cheek. That’s when a bitch gotta make a decision”) and the sexy songs, aren’t. “Chopped N Skrewed” is about…getting screwed, while big single “Can’t Believe It” is essentially about Pain stashing his women around the world. (Still, one must salute his ability to rhyme “mansion” with “Wisconsin.”) “Long Lap Dance” is about getting good value out of your stripper, while “Therapy” is about relationship conflict (“5, 6, 7, 8, I don’t need your sex/ I’ll masturbate”).
All told, Thr33 Ringz’s tracks aren’t unified, and it doesn’t work as full album. That doesn’t mean Pain’s not still R&B’s ringleader, it just means he’s not its Barnum N Bailey.