Next Wednesday, millionaire hitmaker and Auto-Tune adventurer T-Pain plays at Neumos.
Today, The New Yorker website published a fascinating and lightly heartrending profile of the man by Leon Neyfakh, focusing on what T-Pain's been doing lately: "telling sad stories, in public, about what it felt like when everyone, including some of his fellow-artists, started treating him like a joke" and "giving interviews, in which he has candidly discussed the experience of turning from one of pop’s hit-makers into a walking punch line."
What started the backlash, as T-Pain sees it, wasn’t the Jay Z diss but, rather, so many relentlessly lame performers (Ke$ha, the Black Eyed Peas) being moved to give Auto-Tune a whirl after “Rappa Ternt Sanga” came out. Soon, everyone was using Auto-Tune; listeners simply got sick of it, and he became a martyr for having influenced the trend.
Regarding his martyrdom:
In an interview this past January with Vladimir Lyubovny, a d.j. whose popular YouTube channel VladTV is sort of like rap’s “Larry King Live,” T-Pain talked about being brought in as a consultant during the recording of “808s and Heartbreaks.” At one point during the session, Kanye wrote a song about how dumb all of T-Pain’s ideas were. He then proceeded, T-Pain said, to make “everybody in the studio join in with him to sing, like, ‘T-Pain’s shit is weak.’ ” In the same interview, T-Pain recalled encountering Future’s brother at a Thanksgiving fundraiser and telling him he was eager to collaborate with Future. But instead of offering to pass on the message, the guy looked at T-Pain and said to him, “My brother would never fucking work with you. Fuck you and everything you stand for.”
T-Pain's response (and Neyfakh's response to his response) after the jump. (And read the whole thing here.)
“People are, like, ‘You’re rich!’ What’re you so worried about?’ ” he says. “And I’m, like, money ain’t the issue here. Yeah, I can buy shit. But I want people to like me, too! God damn!”
When he says this, once again laughing, I think instantly about the photograph on the cover of Drake’s “Take Care,” which shows the artist sitting glumly in front of a golden goblet, looking painfully aware of how little solace his riches can bring him in his darkest moments. The difference is that while Drake is comfortable making art out of his loneliness and disappointment, at the end of the day, when he goes out in public, he tends to come off as utterly untouchable. T-Pain is the opposite: as far as I know, he has never channelled any of his sadness about the way he’s been treated into his music, but he’s completely willing to talk about it when asked.