- Tue, 2006-05-02 11:44
Born Faheem Najm in Tallahassee, Florida to a pair of entrepreneur parents, T-Pain learned how to do things for himself as a youngster. At the tender age of ten he turned his bedroom into a mini sonic sanctuary with a keyboard, beat machine and four-track recorder. That same day he made a beat, rapped over it and he's been doing it ever since.
Disenchanted with the R&B he was hearing on the radio T-Pain flipped the script and started recording his own brand, called Hard & B, for his exclusive listening pleasure. T-Pain continued to fan his flames by recording as well as directing and editing the video for his street record F*****d Up, a timely reworked version of Akon's prison life ode Locked Up. The song grew so popular that some thought it was actually Akon who was borrowing from the dreadlocked songster. More than intrigued, the convict turned crooner reached out to the young music maker and eventually signed him to his newly formed Konvict Music imprint.
I Like Music caught up with T-Pain just before his debut single release to see what it’s been like working with Akon and more about T-Pain’s unique brand of Hard&B.
“I Like Music because… it feels good. I like good music, real music; music that I know has flowed from somebody not just was put together.” T-Pain
ILM: Your new single, I’m Sprung is out on May 1st, the first single from your debut album Rappa Ternt Sanga. We think its brilliant, really catchy and like the fact that you wrote it about the woman you are now married to. That’s romantic! Your wife must love the song too?
T-Pain: Oh she loves it.
ILM: Can you give us your own personal description of I’m Sprung and its whole vibe?
T-Pain: Basically it was like an up and down relationship that I was writing about. And I wasn’t the only person who went through love in our relationship. And basically we had to come to an agreement that we’re both in love and I had to realize that myself first, and that’s basically what came out of it, and the crazy things people do for love.
ILM: Of all the tracks on Rappa Ternt Sanga, which one was the most fun to make in the studio?
T-Pain: Blow Your Mind because Charlie Wilson was in the studio, so to have a legend in the studio while you’re making a song makes the whole thing fun.
ILM: Your parents are entrepreneurial so you learned how to do things for yourself as a youngster. And had a beat machine and four-track recorder in your room to make beats and rap over them when you were just 10. What message would you want to give to young fans who are passionate about making music themselves?
T-Pain: Put your cell phone down and just do it, just get out there and do it, y’know what I’m sayin’?
ILM: You decided to record your own unique brand of R&B called Hard & B, how did that come about?
T-Pain I saw the way that R&B was going and basically, I just didn’t want to go that way. I decided to build my own path and go that way.
ILM: I hear Felisha Foxx of 100.7 The Beat caned one of your tracks on the radio and since then you’ve been signed to Akon’s label, how has it been working with Akon?
T-Pain: It’s been great. Akon’s calling me his little brother. It’s been fantastic; a lot of stuff has come out of it. I know there are certain situations that I know if I didn’t have Akon behind me a lot of things just wouldn’t have happened.
ILM: So he’s been like your big brother too?
T-Pain: Right, right.
ILM: You directed and edited the video for F***ed Up the reworked version of Akon’s Locked Up and some people even thought Akon was borrowing from you. How mad was that?
T-Pain: Yeah, I did it when he’d just started promoting it, so I was giving it to the DJs and that’s when people hadn’t heard it from him.
ILM: What are your tips for budding producers/artists starting out?
T-Pain: Don’t be afraid to experiment, y’know. When I get a piece of equipment I push all the buttons and don’t care if I break it or freeze it up, that’s my motto in life, push all the buttons.
ILM: Please can you describe the T-Pain process of making music? Do the beats come first?
T-Pain: It depends. Sometimes I’ll be riding down the road and will just be singing some random stuff, and come up with some lyrics and go to the studio and make a beat to it and make a song, or sometimes, I’ll be in the studio and I’ll make a beat and add some lyrics to it and make a song, but it’s always different, I just let it come naturally. I try not to stage it and say, "I’ll go to the studio on Wednesday and record a song." If a song comes to me in the middle of the day, I’ll be like, I need to go to the studio tonight and record the song. I try not to schedule anything.
ILM: Then it’s more natural and organic.
T-Pain: Exactly, because if you try to force a song it’ll come out sounding forced.
ILM: Which piece of computer software and hardware could you not live without?
T-Pain: There are so many different ones, I’ve tried to use everything to see what’s going on, so there’s no one favourite. I just have my favourite computer with all the stuff on it. I built my own computer and put everything on it, so I couldn’t live without that computer.
ILM: Have either of you had the opportunity to meet any of your idols yet?
T-Pain: Yeah one, I met Cee-Lo, that’s my main idol. He was nice; a real down to earth dude and he told me I reminded him of him, so that was a real highlight of my life.
ILM: Can you describe your favourite place on earth?
T-Pain: In bed, sleeping. It’s not often I get so much sleep now.
ILM: If you just want to chill out, what track or album do you stick on?
T-Pain: Chris Brown’s album, that’s the best album right now.