It would be tough to argue that any musical artist is as closely associated with a recording style as T-Pain is with autotune — it’s his calling card. While he didn’t necessarily invent the popular pitch-correcting feature, he certainly popularized it in the late 2000s. T-Pain’s new album 1UP, released Feb. 27, brings us back to that time in music.

T-Pain’s vocal ability is still there, even without autotune. If you have any doubt about his ability to rival Marvin Gaye in terms of non-processed delivery, I urge you to check out his 2014 Tiny Desk Concert or his incognito performances on The Masked Singer this year.

The Tallahassee native’s impressive vocal register is on full display on 1UP. The use of autotune is toned down compared to earlier albums and is roughly equivalent to any trap rapper or singer in 2019. The fourth song on the album, “Getcha Roll On,” is particularly catchy and a good example of the wide range of notes he can hit.

Seven out of the 12 songs contain features — unsurprising, given that T-Pain’s greatest hits have usually come with a co-star. The best songs on 1UP occur when T-Pain works with a rapper who can provide a counterbalance to his singing with a verse or two, such as Lil Wayne, O.T. Genasis and Flipp Dinero. When he works with an artist who has a similar style, such as Tory Lanez or Russ, the result can get a bit tiresome.

Still, the music brings listeners back to another time in pop and R&B music. For college kids, T-Pain sounds like a middle school dance or a time when you still bought music on iTunes.

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Despite this nostalgia factor, he still does not have the same quality of production he had before. There isn’t one song on the album that comes close to having a beat as catchy as the bouncy 2013 hit “Up Down (Do This All Day) (feat. B.o.B),” or even 2016’s “Dan Bilzerian (feat. Lil Yachty).” What listeners get instead are slower tempos where T-Pain’s voice is chiefly responsible for most of the melody.

A possible reason for unimpressive production is that T-Pain is no longer signed to a major label. The singer is adding to the growing movement away from large record companies toward being independent, and he discussed this move with Big Boy at the end of February 2019.

“Everybody knows what the labels are doing, they’re making free money,” he told the Real 92.3 crew. “I feel like I’m a new artist.”

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In many ways, T-Pain does not sound like a new artist, and sometimes that can be a good thing. The final track on 1UP, “Goat Talk (feat. Lil Wayne)” is an example of how he can still make potential hype club jams. His charisma and sense of humor are still just as present in his interviews and music — after all, this is the same guy who was featured on The Lonely Island’s “I’m On a Boat.”

If T-Pain was truly redefining himself as a new artist, we would see him move away from his pop music sound and maybe into a stripped-down R&B album, à la Leon Bridges. Instead we’re getting watered-down T-Pain on 1UP, and the album falls short of his potential.