On the surface, T-Pain may seem like an exceedingly odd choice for one of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, not only because the series usually focuses on rootsy singer-songwriters and indie rockers, but because his Auto-Tune-drenched signature sound seems wildly incompatible with the type of stripped-down intimacy the whole premise is founded on. But two things a lot of people don’t realize about T-Pain are that 1. behind the top hats and stripper lyrics he’s actually an incredibly talented musician, and 2. perhaps even more surprisingly, behind all that Auto-Tune he’s a phenomenally talented singer. READ FULL STORY
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All the way back in 2008, just three years after T-Pain’s Rapper Ternt Sanga made him into a radio-dominating superstar, you could see the writing on the wall for the rapper. No one could see it clearer than T-Pain himself: His trademark Auto-Tuned vocals went from a bracingly futuristic sonic innovation to an overused cliché in a matter of months. (He at least got a couple of good jokes about it into his “Karaoke” video.) When his sonically and thematically scattered 2011 album Revolver failed to turn things around, it seemed like his career might be coming to an end.
The pride of Tallahassee, Fla., spent his time since then refocusing and rebuilding his brand. Late last year he released a DJ Mustard-produced single, “Up Down (Do This All Day)” that quietly climbed nearly halfway up the Hot 100, and a video for the song that featured him sans dreadlocks and top hat, which had defined much of his visual identity. (He kept the outlandish sunglasses.) Over the past few months, T-Pain has been releasing more of the songs that he’s recorded since Revolver—there are hundreds—including a couple, “Look Like Him” and “Monotone,” that combine the darkly throbbing synthesizer sounds that have been bubbling up out of the underground club scene. They feature bracingly self-critical lyrics, revealing that the guy who made warbling robot voices into a radio-devouring phenomenon hasn’t stopped innovating.
His latest single, “Drankin’ Patna,” is a return to the joyful hedonism and bouncing strip club beats of his early hits, and it serves as a potent reminder of exactly what the pop world was missing during his time away. In the midst of his Drankin’ Patna tour, and somewhere in the process of finishing up his fifth solo album, tentatively entitled Stoicville: The Phoenix, he spoke to EW about where he’s been and where he’s going.
Yesterday, with the internet ablaze over the NFL’s first openly gay prospective star, some equally interesting news about the (apparently not always) evolving view of homosexulity in hip hop got a little lost. Over the weekend, DJ Vlad released a video interview with T-Pain that had some interesting revelations on that topic.
“I think the radio is getting more gay-friendly,” said the Auto-Tune champion/noted boat enthusiast. “I don’t think urban music is getting more gay-friendly because if that was the case, Frank Ocean would be on a lot more songs. I know n—-s that will not do a song with Frank Ocean just because he gay, but they need him on the f—ing song and that’s so terrible to me, man.“
You can watch the interview in the video below:
T-Pain recently hopped on Twitter to explain why his oft-delayed set Revolver hasn’t hit stores yet. Pain — who breathed new life (and unfortunate popularity) into Auto-Tune voice adjusting technology with smashes like “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’)” years ago and contributed to hits for the likes of Chris Brown (“Kiss Kiss“), Lil Wayne, and Kanye West — is frustrated that his new singles aren’t catching fire the way they used to. So much so that he’s about ready to leak Revolver track by track on his own.Seems as if the music industry’s favorite autobot is having trouble transforming his new songs into chart-toppers. Rapper/singer
Some people might be surprised by today's announcement that Auto-Tune autocrat T-Pain will be part of the CMT Music Awards next Tuesday. Not me. "Why exactly would the CMT Awards organizers feel that a veritable who's who of country stars like Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Martina McBride, Toby Keith, and Brad Paisley was missing…T-Pain?", you ask. Well, I'm not even sure that the CMT powers-that-be had a choice in the matter. Ever since reading about how T-Pain waltzed onstage uninvited during Jay-Z's live debut of "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)" last weekend, I'm assuming that's just how that guy rolls. Hey, just because T-Pain shows up at a totally incongruous event doesn't mean anyone asked him to be there!
Okay, just kidding. T-Pain is a very fun musician, and I am sure that his unique joie de vivre will make this broadcast that much more enjoyable to watch. He certainly makes more sense than fellow presenters like Bill O'Reilly and Luke Wilson, who aren't even singers. And maybe this explains why Taylor Swift tweeted on Monday about being in the studio with T-Pain? (Or maybe not.) Anyway, what do you think? Does T-Pain's involvement make you more or less interested in tuning in for the CMT Music Awards?
More from EW's Music Mix:
Jack White reveals plans for solo album; proves existence of own space-time continuum
Adam Lambert is gay!: Surprised?
Watch the new Wilco/Radiohead/Johnny Marr/Neil Finn doc for free
Christina Aguilera adds Le Tigre to list of collaborators for new album: Will her electro album trump Lady Gaga's?
addCredit("T-Pain: Daniel Locke/PR Photos; Swift: Chris Hollo/ABC")
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