Let’s Be Clear: T-Pain didn’t have to be a singer. Pain developed his signature style AFTER being discovered as a rapper. Teddy Penderazdoun was originally part of a Tallahassee, Florida rap collective known as a Nappy Headz. In 2004, T-Pain released a (quite comedic) cover of Akon’s breakout single “Locked Up“, titled “F*cked Up” which caught the ear of Akon, himself. The rest is as they say, history. Pain released his debut album Rappa Ternt Sanga, led by first single “I’m Sprung” but…
WHAT IF T-PAIN NEVER BECAME A SINGER?
Who’s to say, but T-Pain may have not “made it” as a rapper. Honestly, try to picture his voice rapping over a 14-track stretch. Have you ever heard his speaking voice? R&B was divine intervention for T-Pain.
Weezy is as close to the energizer bunny as we’ll see in Hip-Hop; He just keeps going and going. The third leg of his career, a few years prior to his 6th studio album Carter 3, saw an unprecedented mixtape run that was no doubt inspired by Pain. Auto-Tune classics like “Prostitute Flange” don’t exist without the Sanga‘s influence. Not to mention their timeless collab “Can’t Believe It“. Wayne has been T-Pain’n ever since. Would we still have Carter 2 Weezy?
In 2009, Jay Z had enough of it! Ahead of the pivotal Blueprint 3 album, he LEAD the rollout with a stand against the times, “D.O.A (Death Of Auto-Tune)“. Think about it: Jay Z felt so compelled to this calling, he dedicated his first single in a Blueprint series LP to defying this trend. T-Pain had created a monster (not Jay, everyone else). How would Jay have set off BP3?
808s & Heartbreak was quite literally Kanye West’s rendition of T-Pain’s Rappa Ternt Sanga. He even brought Pain in to HELP with this task. Prior to, Ye’ had already enlisted Pain for “Good Life” from his third album, Graduation. As with Lil Wayne, Yeezus is still incorporating this style into his work to this day! Seems like everybody is still eating off T-Pain, except T-Pain. Where would Ye be without 808s?
Signing the “Bartender” singer was the first executive move Akon had done. Konvict Music would go on to release more T-Pain and Akon music. This clout gave him leverage to sign artists like French Montana, Cyhi The Prince, Kardinal Offishal and Dolla. Also working with Afro-Beats star Wizkid pop sensation, Lady Gaga. No Pain, no gain.
“I’m So Hood“, “Go Hard“. DJ Khaled, send the man a thank you. The first time Plies ever graced our screens and stations was “Shawty” with T-Pain. The more sophisticated version of Rick Ross made its debut on the TP-assisted “The Boss”. Remember Flo Rida? Possibly. Remember “Low“? Definitely. The list goes on… Could Plies simply have gotten Ne-Yo for a hit?
No matter what you think about what T-Pain did for the business or artistry of Hip-Hop and Rap Music, one thing remains. Teddy P is a once in a lifetime artist who used a fairly new technology (autotune was released in 1997) to revolutionize the game. There’s traditional rap, then there’s T-Pain’s insert. The hottest rappers in the game at the moment, Lil Baby, Lil Durk, Roddy Ricch and more all have the Nappy Boy DNA. Technically, the genre is in 16 AP, After-Pain.