Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT’s “Drink Champs,” which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. In honor of such a one-of-a-kind show, REVOLT will be recapping each weekly “Drink Champs” episode, so you can always catch the gems that are dropped in each lit interview.
On the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN sat down with performer T-Pain to discuss his experiences in the music industry, his expansive catalog, and his signature sound.
Born Faheem Rasheed Najm in Tallahassee, Florida; T-Pain got his start in the biz in the early 2000s as a rapper in the group the Nappy Headz. After going solo and deciding to sing, the artist caught Akon’s attention after he recorded a cover of his song “Locked Up.”
From there, Pain was signed to Konvict Muzik and released his debut album, Rappa Ternt Sanga, in 2005. Thereafter, he released numerous hits over the years including “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’),” “Bartender,” and “Can’t Believe It.”
T-Pain’s signature use of Auto-Tune inspired a generation of artists following his debut and he was continuously tapped for feature appearances. But, the tide later turned on the singer when other artists in the music industry criticized the widespread use of the pitch-correcting software.
The condemnation of his signature style sent the singer into a depression, and he even wrestled with suicidal thoughts. But, these days, he’s in a much better space and said that he became happier when he reminded himself to be grateful for what he’s accomplished thus far.
To help give fans a recap, REVOLT compiled a list of nine facts we learned from the T-Pain interview. Check them out below.
1. On Usher’s Claim That He “Fucked Music Up”
In June, a clip from the Netflix series “This is Pop” went viral and it featured an interview with T-Pain who revealed that Usher once told him that he “fucked music up” for real singers. N.O.R.E. asked Pain about Usher’s remarks and the “rapper turned singer” said he didn’t hold any animosity toward him after their conversation.
“I never lost love for Usher,” he said. “That was never a thing. He just made me think about shit a little harder. I thought he was joking, and I laughed, but he was like, “No, for real.” T-Pain added that after he had some time to think about what Usher said, he went into a depression. “That was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said. “I was going through so much shit already — from the initial hate of Auto-Tune.”
2. On Using Auto-Tune
Though Auto-Tune debuted almost a decade before T-Pain’s emergence, it’s clear that his use of the software inspired other big-name artists in the music industry to also experiment with it. He acknowledged this fact and said that no one has made an impact using it more than him. “I took it and used it how it wasn’t supposed to be used,” he said. “A ton of people had used it, but nobody was able to influence a generation.”
3. On JAY-Z’s “Death of Auto-Tune”
History has proven that when JAY-Z says something isn’t cool, everyone in the hip hop world normally takes heed. When the rapper released the track “Death of Auto-Tune” in 2009 and denounced the use of the software, T-Pain said he took it personally. “I’m the face of this,” he said. “Just like Lil Yachty was the face of Mumble Rap. So, when you say Auto-Tune is wack, I’m the face. Anytime [Jay-Z] says something is wack, it’s trash.”
He added that the backlash that he received after the song’s release worsened his depression and he had thoughts of suicide. “I was done with life,” he said. “I was suicidal for real. I was like, ‘What the fuck am I doing this for?’”
T-Pain explained that he planned to make amends with the rapper at Hot 97’s 2009 Summer Jam concert. JAY-Z was scheduled to perform “DOA” and Pain wanted to publicly clear the air in front of everybody. However, his plans crashed and burned once he joined JAY-Z on stage. “I’m like, this is going to be cool as shit, because I am going to shake his hand and we gone squash it in front of everybody,” he said. “[JAY-Z] looked at my hand like good riddance.”
4. On Spilling Liquor on Beyoncé
T-Pain said that he ran into JAY-Z numerous times following the “Death of Auto-Tune” blunder, and he told a story about a time when he saw the Roc Nation head honcho and his wife, Beyoncé, at a Grammy afterparty.
Initially, he thought it would be the perfect opportunity to finally make amends with the rapper. But, Pain ultimately found himself in another embarrassing situation. While carrying two cups of Hennessy, he said he tried to tap elbows with Beyoncé, but the liquor spilled out of his cup. “She hit my elbow and it [spilled] on her long ass white dress,” he said. “I did not do good that day.”
5. On Working with Chris Brown and Tory Lanez
T-Pain has a lengthy list of reputable artists that he has worked with over the years. On “Drink Champs,” he recalled being excited to work with artists such as Chris Brown and Tory Lanez, but was disappointed when both artists later ended up in scandals as soon as the tracks were released.
Brown has a laundry list of struggles with the law and Lanez was deemed canceled by Black Twitter last year after rapper Megan Thee Stallion alleged that he shot her in the feet. “I don’t know why niggas like fucking up when I’m ready to put a record out,” he said. “As soon as I put a record out with Chris, he fucked up. I put a record out with Tory Lanez, he fucked up. I’m [like] the bitch in the hood that pick the wrong niggas.”
6. On Beef with Future and DJ Khaled
In 2013, T-Pain butted heads with Future, referring to him as “the new T-Pain” on Instagram and he also criticized his use of Auto-Tune during a radio interview. That same year, T-Pain revealed on Vlad TV that the beef started after Pain was insulted by a man who claimed to be Future’s brother. On “Drink Champs,” he explained the beef and also recalled how he took to social media to make fun of Future for flaunting a vehicle that the “Can’t Believe It” singer owned in Ace Hood’s “Bugatti” video.
“Everybody thinks it was a big thing,” T-Pain said. “It was literally you sat in my Bugatti, and you said it was yours. And I told people that it wasn’t yours. Future never gets mad. But, the thing kicked off the whole issue. He ignored the whole shit.”
Pain added that instead of posting Future with the Bugatti on social media, he mistakenly posted a picture of Ace Hood, who was DJ Khaled’s artist at the time. The incident ultimately soured their relationship. “Khaled was like, ‘take the post down,’” he said. “The whole thing was miscommunication. And this is the reason why me and Khaled to this day don’t fuck with each other.”
7. On the Creation of “I’m N Luv (Wit a Stripper)”
In 2005, T-Pain released “I’m N Luv (Wit a Stripper)” and it became one of his most successful singles to date. But, he revealed that the track originally started as a joke between him and one of his friends, who had grown fond of a particular exotic dancer during a visit to a strip club.
“It was literally a joke,” he said. “I was making fun of my homeboy.” He then said he was motivated into making it a real song after Big Boi from Outkast discovered the lyrics and told them the song had huge potential. “Big Boi walked in the room because we were recording in Stankonia [Studios]. He said, ‘That’s a motherfucking hit!’”
8. On the Creation of “I’m Sprung”
“I’m Sprung” was T-Pain’s debut single in 2005 and at the time of its release, he was signed to Akon’s Konvict Muzic record label. Pain revealed that the track was originally created for his Konvict boss, but Akon ultimately turned it down because he wasn’t fond of the subject matter. “The first song I wrote for Akon was ‘I’m Sprung,’” he said.” “Akon [told me], ‘We don’t do records for bitches.’ [So], I took it to a [radio station] in Tallahassee that played it. They wanted it because I had something different.”
9. On Looking Out for Other Artists
Staying relevant in the ever-evolving hip hop world can be a challenging feat. N.O.R.E. discussed that there was a time during his rap days when he hit a dry spell, and he reached out to T-Pain for a feature. The singer ultimately helped him out and explained that he always looks out for other artists because he knows how it feels to be shut out by the industry. “I’m here for everybody,” he said. “I know what it feels like to be ignored, missed, sidelined, and I never make anybody feel like that. It doesn’t make sense. I don’t understand relevancy. If you like T-Pain, you have to like T-Pain, no matter what year it is.”