From its title to its more poignant numbers, T-Pain's Epiphany wears the tag line "more mature album" proudly, which it is, sort of, half of the time. The singer, rapper, writer, producer, voicebox abuser, and favorite target of many hip-hop fans is one of the few who could put an effervescent ode to a jiggly stomach ("Some people like booty/And ain't nothing wrong with that/Ain't nothing more groovy/Than when that stomach moving") on an album that dare pimp the word "mature." "Stomach" is not an empowering anthem for thick women, and when the world "nut" appears as a verb, it's easy to remember R. Kelly and his juggling of the sublime and ridiculous. Problem is, T-Pain has a long way to go before he gets anywhere close to Kels' "I Believe I Can Fly." Instead he's got a fat sack of "Thoia Thoing"s with hooks, slick sounds, and shameless lyrics along with the occasionally crafty production twist. Take the futuristic reggae number "Shottas" or the busy "Church," which dares the listener to hang onto its hectic beat. As far as "mature," there's a gripping interlude four tracks in, "I Got It" (the "it" being HIV), and then the ambitious "Suicide," which has more depth and feeling than expected. These vibrant touches and bold moments make the album worth pulling for, but T-Pain's ongoing issue with beating good ideas to death has now extended to just fair ideas. Three alcohol-based numbers, two of which are highlights ("Bartender" featuring Akon and "Buy U a Drank" with Yung Joc) and one that's just filler ("Tipsy"), could have been spread across three albums instead of dropped on one. Plus, Epiphany is overstuffed, with nothing that tops last album's "I'm N Luv (Wit a Stripper)," and the more mature side never quite gels with the irresponsible party side. All that said, T-Pain is still more misguided than mediocre, which keeps Epiphany from being a failure.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
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