Tag Archives: T-Pain


The music video is such a great medium.  It can have so much power to shift and sway your opinion of a song or artist, but in my experience, its power only works in a positive direction.  A really great music video can make you love a song you used to hate, but even the shittiest music video ever made can’t rob you of your ability to love a song you’re already in love with.  Its powers can only be used for good, not evil.

The most vivid memory of this I have is seeing the video for T-Wayne’s (the original T-Wayne not the dude from every Vine from Spring 2015) “Can’t Believe It“.  I was on a long road trip when this song was hot so I heard it on the radio a ton.  I loved Wayne already and had nothing against T-Pain (unlike most rap fans at the time) but this song just fell flat on my ears before I saw its video accompaniment.

T-Pain – Can’t Believe It (feat. Lil’ Wayne)

On first watch it was incredible to witness the song transform before my eyes.  The sparseness of the beat went from boring to spacious, the synth bells went from tinny to sparkling, and the vocals went from flat to fluid when paired with the imagery in the video.  It also always helps to see a rapper’s face and body while he/she is rapping, it can provide a lot of very helpful emotional context, but this video offers so much more than that.  T-Pain’s “yeahhhh” mellismas are so easy to ignore in the audio-only realm, but with this new context each one is a nuanced and refreshing unfolding of an image.  I’ve never been won over so quickly with a simple change of medium like this.

Two of my favorite new songs got videos this past week; one is a great example of how a video can deeply enhance its aural component and the other is a great example of how even an unwaveringly dumb video can’t ruin the greatness of its matched song.  We’ll start with the bad example:

Young Thug – For My People

Young Thug might have the largest gap between music and music video quality of any artist I’ve ever witnessed.  “Loaded” is the only video of his I’ve seen that felt like it had any connection to or felt at all like the song it visualized, and even that video isn’t great.  All those Rich Gang videos were just gross, and his solo material since then has been accompanied by mildly entertaining, chuckle-worthy but ultimately unfit visuals.  It’s a shame because Thug himself is an extremely visually interesting person and performer, and he is consistently the only thing that makes his videos worth watching at all, but even his natural charisma and emotive physicality aren’t enough to make these videos a fraction as powerful as the music they accompany.

Rising star Kodak Black, however, really struck a chord with me on this new one.

Kodak Black – Like Dat

This video is probably lower-budget than Thug’s (and is certainly lower-budget than “Can’t Believe It“) but its power is undeniable.  I liked this song before this video came out, now I love this song.  Certain feelings are only possible when performing or at least watching someone perform certain actions, and watching Kodak rap from the floor of a shitty hotel room with a head lamp on or do that little doo-wop shimmy with his homie at the end makes you understand how you’re supposed to feel about this song way more than any description could, or even that the song alone could convey.

I was listening to “For My People” daily before I saw its video, and I’m still going to listen to “For My People” daily for at least the next few weeks after seeing this video.  But “Like Dat” was only an occasional selection until this visual dropped; now it just might bump “For My People” down a notch in the rotation.

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There are a lot of things to love about Starlito’s newest tape (like the realest relationship-rap song in recent memory), but one reference in particular caught my attention on first listen.

Starlio – I Get Tired

The Game – My Life (feat. Lil’ Wayne)

When “My Life” came out it quickly became my go-to Exhibit A for defending auto-tune to all those mid ’00s haters who still took their rap cues from Jay-Z and hungrily grasped at any opportunity to dismiss an innovation or new direction in rap.  I liked T-Pain a lot too but that was a hopeless position to take toward anyone who I’d be having this debate with, but Wayne’s auto-tune use was harder to dismiss, especially on such an emotionally deep and vulnerable song.  Cher (or, more accurately, one of Cher’s producers) introduced it to the world, T-Pain built an entire style on it and made it a household name, but I think Wayne deserves a lot of credit for paving the way for a less-gimmicky and more expressive use of the infamous Auto-Tune.  It’s his work that set the stage for Future, Chief Keef, and Young Thug to make some of the most interesting emotionally powerful music of the past decade, and I think “My Life” is a prime and often overlooked example of this.  This reaches beyond rap too, if Wayne hadn’t taken Auto-Tune’s use as an expressive tool to the next level and it had simply out of fashion when T-Pain did, would Bon Iver have made “Woods“?  Doubtful.

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Ice Cube – Hood Mentality

I could have made a post with just that track by itself and felt pretty OK about it, but why not throw in a little history?  I feel like anybody that appreciates that Ice Cube track will definitely appreciate this.

Eddie Kendricks – Can I

And anybody that appreciates musical continuity or T-Pain doing a sorta technical rap verse will have some love for this, too.

Twista – Creep Fast (feat. T-Pain)

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Iamsu! – Don’t Stop

Su drops some real obvious “wobbledy wobbledy” New Orleans-style rhymes throughout here, but does anybody else remember his little outro number from anywhere else?

Lil’ Wayne – Got Money (feat. T-Pain & Mack Maine)

This wasn’t the first time Mack used that little hook though.

Lil’ Wayne – Ballin’ (feat. Mack Maine)

Part of me feels like he’s maybe referencing something even older on here too, I’m not sure why though.  Y’all let me know if you’ve got the missing piece.

It’s really interesting how much the new West coast owes to the South, and how much the old South owes the even older West coast.

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I know I missed the anniversary of The Notorious B.I.G.’s death a couple weeks ago, and I felt bad about that, but I just couldn’t think of a way to honor him in the way that he wasn’t already getting honored all over the internet around that time.  And I know it doesn’t have to be like that, I don’t have to take into account what everybody else is doing before I do what I do, but I still just couldn’t think of what the best way to pay my respect was.  So I just let it pass.

Then when I found out that today is Bun B’s birthday, I made up my mind to do this one right.  Maybe because it’s the anniversary of Bun’s birth instead of the anniversary of Big’s death it’s more approachable, or maybe it’s because Bun B is on the first rap song I ever truly loved, but whatever the reason, I wanted to really tackle this one.  So I started thinking.  What would be the best post I could make for Bun B on his birthday?  Maybe I should just keep it simple, put up one of my favorite verses?  There are so many though, especially with all the guest work he’s done in the past few years.  Maybe I should dig up something kinda obscure for all the people that have heard his standard material.  That could be cool.  Or maybe just keep it classic and post up a UGK track that everybody can just vibe to and enjoy on his birthday.

But none of these really seemed right, so kept thinking.  Eventually it came to me, and I’m really excited about what I came up with.  I decided that the best thing to do would be to seek out some stuff that I’ve never heard by him before instead of putting up something I’m already super familiar with.  What better to honor an artist than to dig even deeper into their catalog than you already have instead of just re-listening to the same shit that you love over and over?  I think that might be my new policy from now on, I think it’s a great way to pay tribute to somebody you admire.  I know I’d like people to do that with my music.

So here ya go: my favorite stuff that I found cruisin’ around the internet today that I’d never heard before.  They’re not particularly classic, or necessarily my absolute favorite of all time, but they’re definitely excellent to listen to, and have broadened my already massive respect and love for the trillest man breathing.  Happy Birthday Bun B.

2 Chainz – Pimps (feat. Bun B & Big K.R.I.T.)

Bun B – Trillionaire (feat. T-Pain)

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Today this song came on at work, and it made me realize that I neglected to mention it when I wrote this post, where T-Pain sings over this same instrumental.  Kind of a crucial detail, sorry for leavin that out a while back.

Charles Bradley – I Believe in Your Love

I gotta say, I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite.  What about you?

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To any lingering T-Pain haters out there, good luck writing him off as a no-talent gimmick after watching this video.

To any T-Pain lovers (like myself) out there, here’s one more reason to.

T-Pain – Never Leave Her (feat. Tay Dizm)

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