Hip-Hop artist T-Pain is only 22 years old, and he has already produced more music than artists who've spent a lifetime in the entertainment field. He's just been nominated for five Grammy Awards. That's on top of the MTV Video and Vibe music awards he won previously. VOA's Larry London recently talked with T-Pain about his skyrocketing music career.
Hip-Hop artist T-Pain's success is big and getting bigger. "I'm such a humble person," he says. "A lot of people tell me I don't know how big (famous) I am."
For the past three years, T-Pain has written, performed and produced an impressive amount of award-winning music, not only for himself, but also for many other R&B artists. His music is in a genre that's hard to define.
Hip-Hop, T-Pain explains, "Really doesn't have a meaning. Hip-Hop is a feeling to me. Hip-Hop is a moment, a mode, that you can get into at any given moment."
Despite all his success, T-Pain didn't get much respect when he first arrived on the Hip-Hop scene.
He recalls, "They saw me, and they looked at me and they said, 'Aw, he can't be writing that kind of song', or 'He can't produce that', just because of the way I look. And when they figured out that I was somewhat of an intelligent person, (laughs) it just, it baffles people, you know what I'm saying? It just kind of makes me sad that people don't catch on until two years later, but, hey, as long as they catch on."
And many of those who caught on were the biggest names in the Hip-Hop culture, names like Kanye West, Chris Brown, Mario Wynans, and Michael Jackson; artists who wanted to collaborate with T-Pain on their projects.
"It was great just meeting Michael Jackson. Just them calling saying, 'Hey we got to push your studio time back because Michael Jackson wants to meet you.' Just that moment right there was the highlight of my life," T-Pain said.
But, he says, life was not so good growing up in a Florida city. That's where he came up with the name T-Pain. "The 'T' stands for Tallahassee, which is Tallahassee, Florida, which is where I'm from. The 'Pain' stands for the struggle of trying to get outside of Tallahassee. People just hating on you, stepping on your toes, just trying to pull you to the bottom, like it's so hard to get outside of Tallahassee, which causes pain, so 'Tallahassee-Pain.'"
Although he experienced some pain in his youth, his music has brought joy to thousands of his fans. His new album is called "Epiphany."
How he came to naming the cd, he says, "I had an epiphany between my first and my second albums . . . just experiences I had as far as going overseas, losing a couple of friends due to violence or gang violence. Stuff like that just made me think about life in a different light and my situation in a different light. So it was just natural to have an epiphany."
T-Pain has been called a prodigy, a man ahead of his time - names that he rejects and embarrass him. Whatever you call him, at 22, T-Pain has come a long way in a very short time - and unbelievably, an artist whose career may just now be taking off.