Q&A With T-Pain, Performing at AAA on Sunday


Many of today's hip-hop personalities and R&B royalty would have fans believe they've got the genuine Midas touch, but few in recent years can truly back that claim up. The Tallahassee-born T-Pain, however, is one of these chosen few. It's no wonder Akon snatched him up for his own imprint, Konvict Muzik, upon hearing his rendition of the impresario's single, "Locked Up," back in 2005. 

Since then Pain has put singles on the Top 40 almost faster than Billboard can get to print, thanks to a trademark style that's got nthing to do with vocals run through Auto-Tune. Okay, maybe it's got a little bit to do with that.  But it's his boisterous hooks dripping with laid-back swagger, and an easy, Southern drawl that have consistently produced gold, both on his own tracks and on collaborations with the likes of Chris Brown, Kanye West, Lil' Wayne and Flo Rida, among others.

After the jump, read New TImes' full Q&A with T-Pain, who performs this Sunday at the AAA as part of the I Am Music Tour.

-- Christopher Lopez

T-Pain performs with Lil Wayne, Gym Class Heroes, Keyshia Cole, and Keri Hilson. Sunday,

December 14. American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Show

starts at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $36.75 to 76.75,,

Seems like every song you appear on goes Top 40. What's the secret?


to do it [laughs].  That's what I feel like.  I don't know that there's

a secret.  Have yourself a good sense of melody, and put the words

together, and if it comes out to be a hit or a good song at all, you

got yourself something.

No matter who the track belongs to, your style is immediately recognizable.  How do you describe it?


um, natural, really.  The tone of it is the least relevant part.  It's

more the topic of the song.  You've got to be able to just relate to

it.  Most people hear what it's about and where it's going, because it

can be a great sounding voice or it can be an Auto-Tune, it can be

anything, but if it's a sucky song it's a sucky song.

So when you sit down to write, how do you go about it?


don't sit down and write at all, that's all bullshit.  There you have

it [laughs].  There's no use taking your time and writing something. 

If you gotta go and sit down and make up some clever way to say shit,

there's no use doing it.  It's all fake, you know what I'm saying? 

You're thinking too hard. 

If you got it in you, you got it in

you.  All you need is a topic for a song and you can talk about it. 

Don't try to make it all clever and find different ways to say it and

all that crap.  Just make it real.  Whatever comes to the top of your

head about that topic is how you feel about it.  There it is.

Tell us about your new album, Thr33 Ringz, which just released in November.   What's the concept?


whole concept was, I was doing so many features, and pretty much just

running the game like a ringleader of a circus. And also, just

comparing the industry to a circus, it's like the same thing, you know?

You got lots of acts in a circus and we just needed a ringleader in the

industry. I'm him.

And there's a limited edition version with 3 bonus songs?


actually lots of editions around the world; a different edition for

Japan, a different edition for the U.K., the limited edition with the

three extra tracks ... just making sure everyone gets what they need.

You've got collaborations on Thr33 Ringz with some of the hottest artists out right now. Which one was your favorite?

Um, Diddy. Just being with him in the studio, that was awesome.

That's on "Change," also featuring Akon and Mary J. Blige, right?


yeah, yeah. Exactly. That was just mad fun, 'cuz I was making that song

while he was in the studio. I got Akon and Mary J. on it later. But

just being around Diddy was real fun.  He was just a great guy, you


You also have a track featuring Kanye, called "Therapy".  How did that come about?


already had the song and I had a rap verse on it, and then Kanye heard

it and he was like, "I gotta put a verse on that." And then he did that

and the song came out to be like five minutes and 20 seconds or

something like that, so I just cut and kept his rap on it. But that's

how it happened; he heard it, he loved, he got on it.

You and Lil Wayne have been working together a lot lately.  How'd you two link up?


started doing a lot of the same cities at the same time, in terms of

shows. And one day he came on my bus -- and he didn't know I had a

studio on my bus -- so once he saw that, we started recording there on

the bus. 

Then I was living in Miami for a while, and he was

living in Miami, and we'd just show up at the studio not knowing if

each other was gonna be there. We just started recording more and more,

and became more and more friends, and got closer and closer.

You've got a recording studio on your tour bus?


I've got a custom car shop in Atlanta. You know, so we just pretty much

did this bus like a car, but put a studio in the back. Everything, with

walls and everything. It's not like a table with a bunch of studio

equipment sitting on top of it. You'll forget it's a bus walking into


And you're going be performing in the AAA on December

14th along with Lil Wayne, Keyshia Cole and Gym Class Heroes.  For the

fans that haven't gotten a chance to catch you live, what can they


You know what? I can't even say, because I'm on my

way right now to the first rehearsal of this tour. So I don't know what

anything looks like, or what songs we're gonna be doing.  [Laughs] I

don't even know anything yet. But I promise I'm gonna bring some energy

beneath the belt. Just a lot of energy and a lot of fun.

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Arielle Castillo
Contact: Arielle Castillo