I feel a little intimidated following Noel's remarkable post (if you haven't read it yet, please do, it's far more compelling and important than my foolishness) but I've been flirting with creating an intermittent blog series called "Guilty Pleasure Mondays". First up: T-Pain, a guilty pleasure who has been rocking my world with his fantastical Vocoder of joy since I first heard his breakthrough hit "I'm In Luv With A Stripper". So I guess I'm following the sublime with the supremely ridiculous.
I don't know much about this T-Pain fellow so I've decided to create a creation myth for him in keeping with the rinky-dink artificial grandeur of his music. T-Pain was once a garden-variety rapper with a career steadily going nowhere. Then one day he happened upon mentor Akon's voice emanating from a burning bush. This ghostly, vaguely robotic voice led T-Pain to a golden Vocoder, a magical synthesizer and a pixie-dust-coated drum machine.
Like Moses, T-Pain was now a man with a divine mission: he was to make ridiculously infectious R&B; anthems encouraging women to get drunk and have sex with him. And he was to abuse and torment the English language as much as humanly possible, especially in his song titles. Accordingly T-Pain's latest, the aptly named Epiphany is a veritable concept album about the intertwined pleasures of alcohol abuse and casual sex with rappers ternt sangas. "Let's get drunk and forget what we did" isn't just a lyric from "Buy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin')": it's T-Pain's mission statement. I was slow to warm up to "Buy U A Drank" but I know consider it the greatest song ever written, if not the crowning achievement of Western civilization.
"Tipsy" offers a minor variation on "Buy U A Drank"'s timeless message: this time T-Pain merely wants to get anonymous skanks tipsy enough to have sex with him. Switching gears completely, "Bartender" finds T-Pain and mentor/music god Akon trying to get the woman who serves them drinks to have drunken casual sex with them.
But there's far more to T-Pain than drunkenly soliciting sex. On the epochal "Yo Stomach" Tallahassee's gift to ridiculously synthetic R&B; fearlessly eschews leering at T&A; and revolutionarily fetishizes stomachs on a song that aims to do for six packs what "Baby Got Back" did for the gluteus maximus. At his most achingly poetic T-Pain croons "Ain't nothing more groovy/Then when that stomach's movin', yea/It's the reason I'm singing this song/Because I ain't got nothing else to bust a nut on". T-Pain then croons "Oooh, oh, ohhh oooh Whoa whoa whoa" for emphasis. Profounder words have seldom been crooned through a vocoder. Technically, T-Pain uses Auto-Tune software instead of a Vocoder but I'm going to keep on pretending that he uses a Vocoder cause they're awesome and Auto-Tune software just sounds kinda sad and lame.
Incidentally, I think everyone should use a Vocoder at all times. How awesome would that be? Wouldn't a trip to your accountant be a whole lot more exciting if they spoke like some kind of freaky R&B; robot?
"I'm N' Luv (With A Stripper)" set the template for T-Pain's career. He's a hopeless romantic masquerading as an incorrigible horndog or an incorrigible horndog masquerading as a hopeless romantic. I can't quite decide which. So his songs about wanting to get women drunk so they'll have sex with him are incongruously pretty, sweet, romantic and even a little sad.
It's not art but then T-Pain's wonderfully synthetic brand of plastic soul is all about living in the moment. And drunken sex. Long may his Vocoder reign.