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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Column: Hip-hop owes T-Pain a drank

    Nick Havey

    It’s hard to be the first person that starts something. Trendsetters are often praised, but on rare occasions, they are branded as lower-quality versions of the people who follow them.

    For T-Pain, auto tune both made and broke him. As the person who popularized the use of auto tune in mainstream music, or at least hip-hop — Cher used it in droves on her 1998 hit “Believe” — it would make sense for him to be lauded as a pioneer.

    He isn’t. He’s become a joke and the target of an industry that has long held its members to inhuman standards of hyper-masculinity and stoicism.

    It does not help that T-Pain is a “rappa ternt sanga” and a man defined by his dorky top hot and Oakley sunglasses. And although he is known for songs such as “Booty Wurk” and “Buy U A Drank,” he recently gave a Tiny Desk Concert where he proved just how musically talented he is, singing without instruments or auto tune and absolutely slaying. This does not, however, diminish the hate he has received from fellow artists, both for his use of auto tune and for being emotionally vulnerable.

    In an interview with VladTV earlier this year, T-Pain shared his own feelings on the matter.

    “People are, like, ‘You’re rich! What’re you so worried about?’ ” he said. “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!”

    Hip-hop is a genre that aggressively dissolves any difference. People such as Frank Ocean and T-Pain put in talent but face challenges when it comes to being taken seriously. They have too many feelings for a world that is all about status and bragging.

    André Pettman, the director of hip-hop at KAMP student radio, said T-Pain is due some recognition.

    “Hip-hop has long been known for being rooted in masculinity, [which alienates] talented artists who present themselves as more vulnerable,” Pettman said. “With artists such as Drake reaching a superstar level that transcends hip-hop with a brand of music that is introspective and emotional, one can’t help but feel that the respect for an artist like T-Pain is long overdue, considering the way his style of auto-tuned crooning revolutionized and polarized hip-hop in ways that can still be felt today.”

    Obviously, this climate is not going to change any time soon; consumers are obsessed with the money, drugs and portrayal of women as sex objects. That being said, it doesn’t have to completely reject artists because they want to write love songs.

    Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreaks is a great example. The album features auto tune and heavy bass, much like T-Pain’s Rappa Ternt Sanga. T-Pain said he thinks he should have been credited on the album.

    “I respect that shit, but it’s like the praise that he got from it was like, ‘Oh my God, this is so creative. This is the new shit. This is the shit,’” T-Pain said in his interview. “And I’m like, ‘Well, what happened in 2005 when I dropped Rappa Ternt Sanga and it was the same album. That’s kind of weird.’ You know what I’m saying. It just felt like I was unappreciated and anything like that.”

    Dear T-Pain, I think you’re pretty rad. I dig your voice, and I genuinely respect your raw talent and mastery of auto tune. You took something that was being intermittently used and made it your thing.

    But to put it plainly, T-Pain seems bitter. He’s working on releasing an album ironically titled Stoicville — where no one has to have feelings and the emotionless ramblings can be backed by heavy bass — and he could easily just be trying to drum up publicity for the release. Or maybe this is all really starting to get to him.

    After all, he does have a lot of feelings.


    Nick Havey is a junior studying physiology and Spanish. Follow him on Twitter.

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