Not to brag about my life, but Wednesday night, I was in the same room eating chicken with T-Pain.
I was invited to a listening session for his new Gangsta Grillz mixtape, The Iron Way, which will be released on Friday.
This almost made up for the fact that I never got a chance to see T-Pain’s 42-song concert he put on at this year’s SXSW. I mean, you guys, look at the hits on this setlist. LOOK AT THEM!
So yeah, my soul hurt when I missed that, but I wasn’t mad at the listening session. There’s some really solid records on the 21-song project, some of which have already hit the Internet. They even played his collaboration with Aaliyah, which rest assured, is better than you probably think it is. Ditto for the mixtape as a whole.
In between songs, veteran journalist Shaheem Reid and T-Pain held court at the front of the room in two separate chairs. They discussed what T-Pain had been up to since his last album, RevolveR (which came out in 2011) and other things like how that long-rumored album with him and Lil Wayne is not coming out anytime soon, even though they recorded many songs. Other interesting tidbits include what T-Pain is currently listening to, which is a lot of FKA Twigs, Sampha, and James Blake. He also laughed when asked if him and Kanye West have anything they’ve been working on. Kanye, T-Pain said, is way too famous for him these days.
I did not get a chance to ask T-Pain a question myself, but if I did I would have asked him how much does he charge to sing at weddings. I’m not getting married anytime soon, but I was at the listening session with my girl, and while waiting for the session to begin we talked idly about how T-Pain is one of our generation’s undeniable hitmakers. And as most unmarried couples tend to do when they have some idle time, I came up with this crazy hypothetical that if we can come up with a list of singers to perform at our wedding, can T-Pain be on the short list. “Of course,” she said, reminding me yet again why we are soulmates.
If you think I’m being hyperbolic by saying T-Pain would be the perfect wedding performer, hear me out.
This year marks the 10-year anniversary of T-Pain’s first hit song, “I’m Sprung.” That may make some of us feel old and self-proclaimed music purists uncomfortable. “I’m Sprung” sounded like one of those songs performed by artists who are good for one hit. No one really expected T-Pain to take off like he did, and I am sure there are plenty more who would like to act like he isn’t one of the most important artists of the past decade.
Unfortunately, those haters would be wrong.
Tell me about a party you have been to in the last 10 years where a T-Pain song wasn’t played so I can hear about the most boring party ever. Give me the number to the DJ who won’t play “Blame It” so I can lose that number.
When Jay-Z tried to take a stab at everything T-Pain stood for with “Death of Autotune” I had to chuckle at how much of a grumpy old man Jay sounded. Nobody wants to hear “Death of Autotune” over a song like “Bartender.”
Party records aside, T-Pain has also proven to be as formidable on slow jams. “Can’t Believe It” should be on all playlists you make for someone you love (the version with Justin Timberlake). “I’m N Luv (Wit A Stripper)” will make you believe there is no place too forbidden to find a soulmate. And who can forget the stripped down keyboard duo he performed last year for NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concert” series? That version of “Buy U A Drank” is two minutes and thirty seconds of special.
I can go on, but I don’t think I need to. If you can hear, you get the point. T-Pain has done nothing for the past 10 years but contribute a soundtrack to our good times. That is why I’m happy he’s back with some new material. That is why I pray he has a career as long as Frankie Beverly and Maze so I can go to his shows when I’m an old man and dance in a splendid all white linen outfit. That is why we should all hope, outside of the occasional break, T-Pain continues to make music because as long as a T-Pain song is playing, we are more than likely having a good time.
(Oh, and here's a stream of The Iron Way. Because we all need more T-Pain in our lives.)