'Nappy boy' takes Northwestern: T-Pain starter pack

    Turn up the bass, turn up the treble: A&O is bringing T-Pain to Spring Ball. If you haven’t been keeping up with everyone’s favorite Auto-Tune connoisseur like you have been with the Kardashians, never fear: NBN brings you a throwback truly relevant to the college student demographic. No, not to eras of neon spandex or flapper dresses, but to our very own epoch of Apple Bottom Jeans, boots with the fur (the fur) and Hollister graphic tees from your awkward teenage years. Here is a brief video history of T-Pain's career, one that is sure to help you prepare your aural repertoire for this Friday.

    Humble beginnings

    T-Pain came onto the scene with a bang (or, more appropriately, a shawty snappin'). His first album Rappa Ternt Sanga featured such hits as “I’m N Luv (Wit A Stripper),"  “I’m Hi” and other orthographically creative titles. With his clean beats, liberal use of claps and snaps, smooth voice enhancements and emblematic Auto-Tuned “oohs" and “yeahs," T-Pain asserted his spot at the top of charts with his sophomore album Epiphany. “Buy U A Drank” was a regular on mix CDs and local radio stations for what seemed like an eternity – and we loved it. 


    T-Pain may be equally, if not more, renowned for his work with virtually everyone in the game. From his partnership with his best buddy Akon to earworm anthems of our young years, T-Pain was the expert in hip-hop networking. Collaborations with veterans like Chris Brown, Kanye West and Lil’ Mama, just to name a few, shot straight to the top of the charts and into our hearts, while his work with some unlikely partners confirmed his artistic versatility as well as his aptitude for the art of parody. However, the crown jewel of T-Pain’s golden age of collaboration is, without a doubt, his collaboration with America’s sweetheart Taylor Swift. Sporting a literal Big Ass Chain next to a flailing Swift, T-Pain once again flexes his satirical chops. 

    A man of many markets

    Even during the heyday of T-Pain’s music career, the multi-talented mogul was all about sharing the wealth with his fans. Following the insane success of his Auto-Tune-laden hits, T-Pain worked with Smule to release the I Am T-Pain iPhone application. In a time when iPhone apps were just starting to become popular, T-Pain entered the market at an ideal time, proving his mastery of music and financially advantageous career moves. The app ushered a trend of YouTube videos with literally anything Auto-Tuned; most memorably, this collaboration with none other than Obama himself. 

    Just your average dude

    After a few years of unprecedented fame, T-Pain took a little well-deserved time off to do some contemplating and evolving. As his music and subject matter matured, so did his look. He cut his iconic dreads, came out with a Greatest Hits album and stripped down his music for an acoustic Tiny Desk Concert. Even the best singers struggle with shifting their sound, but T-Pain emerges as an artist who is not afraid of change: “We must all learn to adjust with our surroundings. Those who get stuck doing the same things for too long are bound to get left behind the strong who press on and reinvent themselves. Also. Good news. Hair grows back.” 

    A modern-day Lazarus

    These days, T-Pain is launching his comeback from relative obscurity with his fifth album, Stoicville: The Phoenix. Besides the obvious lack of Auto-Tune, the intro title track diverges from his moneymaker club-ready singles to broodier musings on the burdens of fame. This all-lyric no-hook song introduces the new and lyrically improved T-Pain, while his first promotional single “Coming Home” mixes pop, reggae and hip-hop in a radio-friendly amalgam of genres that almost works. Listen to both below: 


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