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T-PAIN Epiphany

T-PAIN Epiphany

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When he first burst onto the scene, T-Pain probably created more reasons to dislike him rather than like him. His name sounds more late-'80s than new millennium. His debut album was obnoxiously titled Rappa Ternt Sanga (translation: "rapper turned singer"). His first single, "I'm Sprung" had a catchy chorus that didn't match up with the lyrics, so the song makes little sense. And as far as his second hit single, "I'm In Luv (Wit A Stripper)," well, the title says enough.

But like him or not, T-Pain, born Faheem Najm is here to stay. His vocoder-processed singing and rapping is unlike anything since Roger & Zapp. His original mish-mash style has earned him several dozen guest spots since his debut, making him one of the most in-demand sangas around. Also working in his favor is that he has a gift for breaking away from the traditional shackles of R&B; only an incredibly modern artist could pull off a song like "What's Your MySpace" and "Send Me An E-Mail," odes to romance and flirting in a digital world.

T-Pain's sophomore album, Epiphany, is a refinement of what worked on Rappa Ternt Sanga and a proper introduction to a few new things. The listener gets more familiar with his alter egos: Teddy Pain is the smooth singing romantic, Teddy Verseti is fast-rapping ladies man, and Teddy Penderazdoun is sort of a hybrid of the two. Or something like that.

Regardless of which guy is singing, T-Pain is a hip clubhopper, so some songs are to be expected. "Bartender" with Akon is a perfectly chill club jam, while the radio hit "Buy You A Drank (Shawty Snappin)" with Young Joc packs dance floors with its call to "Walk It Out." "Tipsy" fits into that same mold of club ditties that are Pain's specialty. "Reggae Night" and "Shottas" transport the listener from the regular clubgoing experience to the reggae joint, and it works surprisingly well.

Because T-Pain spends so much time singing about life in the party and after the party, "I Got It" and "Suicide" earn him major props for observing the possible consequences of the lifestyle. Taking on the perspective of a man who has contracted HIV, T-Pain sings lyrics of deep regret over a groovy, but mournful guitar loop and spread out bass pumps.

All one really needs to know about T-Pain is that he is a night lifer and it's reflecting in just about every song. Because he is self-produced and takes on different faces to suit each track, he can legitimately say that each song he makes is his own. Epiphany may not be regarded by many as revolutionary music, but seeing how T-Pain is so good at what he does and has developed a uniquely stylish and effective sound, the album lives up to its title.

By Aaron Ellis
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Last Updated: 17 Dec 2007 19:13:31 PST home  |  about  |  terms  |  contact
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