T-Pain keeps it real … really real. Throughout the years, the multi-talented Tallahassee native has been open about his struggles with alcohol, growing up poor (which is where the “Pain” in T-Pain comes from) and problems with his family life.
After getting a handle on his love of Hennessy, and making things right at home with his wife of 15 years and three children, the godfather of Auto-Tune returned in November with Oblivion, his first solo album since 2011’s Revolver.
“For one, I wanted to get out of my label — that was the quickest way,” T-Pain tells HipHopDX. “Two, it was time to release something. It was time to get back on it and I hadn’t been. Early in my career, I wasn’t really paying attention to my family or my kids or my wife. I took some time off to really get it together, be a better husband, father and stuff like that. Like, fuck these other people that don’t care if I live or die. After a while, it was time to come back. I really just got my shit together at home, so I was ready to go back out.”
As he explained in a 2017 interview with The Breakfast Club, drinking became a way to cope. Despite his celebrity status and money, he realized his lifestyle wasn’t working for him. Drinking led to depression and eventually, the isolation started to eat him up.
“Most famous people are the loneliest people in the world,” he says, “That just how it goes. That’s everybody. People are always trying different vices. You can’t just go meet people like everybody else. You can’t just go out dancing and just go to hookah bars out here or anything like that. You need people you can actually have a conversation with and somebody you know actually likes having a conversation with you, and they not just talking to you because they can get something out of you.
“We can’t go to Target for some reason,” he continues. “I don’t know why we’re not allowed to go to Target. They’re always like, ‘Are you broke? You’re at Target,’ and I’m like, ‘You’re here too! Are you broke?’ [laughs]. People always ask me, ‘What are you doing in here? What are you doing in Home Depot?’ This is where rich people buy hammers at, that’s why I’m in a Home Depot. Show me the rich people hammer store and I’ll go there I guess.”
T-Pain’s rise to notoriety began in 2004 after Akon discovered T-Pain’s group at the time, Nappy Headz, had done a cover of his track “Locked Up.” Akon signed him to his Konvict Muzik label and it was on from there. His 2007 sophomore album, Epiphany, debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, and spawned hits like “Bartender” featuring Akon and “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’).”
During that “T-Pain era,” which went on throughout the mid to late-2000s, he picked up some hard lessons and admits “things got fucking stupid.”
“People are fake, so you got to know when their being who they are or they just trying to please you so they can get money out of you,” he says. “You never know. We could easily avoid it by just saying, ‘fuck everybody’ but even the people you’re closest to, the people you know, or the people you grow up with, they turn into fucking weirdos. You never can avoid it but I’m a very trusting person, so I kind of let the wrong people into my camp and things got fucking stupid.”
Although Cash Money reportedly still owes him $500,000 for unpaid royalties, T-Pain is in a good place and has a solid perspective on the industry he’s been a part of for so long. Last December, he explained why Post Malone made the right choice to put 21 Savage on “Rockstar” even though T-Pain was originally on the track.
“People feel like artists always want to be in the forefront,” he says. “That’s bitterness to me. I don’t fucking care if I do something like this. There are plenty of songs that I hear and I’m like, ‘Aw shit. I could’ve came up with that. I was thinking about that the other day. That’s a subject that I could’ve wrote something about.’ But I’m not like, ‘Ah I could’ve been on the song’ and ‘that could’ve been me. I don’t know why they put that new dude on there. I’ve been running this ship for a long time.’ No, I don’t do that. That’s dumb. I just want people to win.”