The Billings Outpost

Snowstorm Music Tour hits Billings on Monday

By L. KENT WOLGAMOTT - Last Word Features

Want to hear “I’m on a Boat” when T-Pain brings his Snowstorm Music Tour to Shrine Auditorium in Billings on Feb. 20?

Ask enough and you’ll get it.

“I’m pretty sure that’s going to happen,” T-Pain said. “It’ll get requested enough to go ahead and let the people hear what they want.”

In fact, giving people what they want is how T-Pain’s show works every night.

“I see what people are responding to and put the show together the way I want,” he said. “You’ve just got to see yourself on the floor, not on the stage. Every place has a perspective on the things they want to hear. You want to picture yourself being there and come at it from a fan’s standpoint, not a performer’s standpoint.”

Of course, T-Pain has plenty of hits, so he can make up a set on the fly. He’s best known for using AutoTune, the pitch correction audio processor, on the vocals of his songs, from his first hit “I’m Sprung” and 2007’s “Buy You a Drank (Shawty Snappin’)” to his 2009 Grammy winner with Jamie Foxx “Blame It.”

While he’s been quoted as saying he deserves credit or payment from all artists using Auto-Tune, T-Pain now admits he started using it for a simple reason.

“I wanted to sound different than everybody else. It’s not something I needed,” he said. “Now I’m singing again and you can hear that, AutoTune or not, you’ve still got to write a hit song.”

So how do you write a hit song?

“Just write about me,” he said. “Everybody goes through the same thing. Whether you’re rich or poor, black or white, young or old, everybody has the same problems. That’s why I sing about me. People know what I’m talking about.”

Even though T-Pain has collaborated with dozens of artists, produces many of the songs on which he appears, including the Foxx Grammy winner, he isn’t generally seen as a multi-faceted artist.

“I think I don’t get praised as much for it,” he said. “People don’t pay attention to it. The only people who know it are in the music industry. A lot of those others, they have time to work on their star appearance. They’re not putting in the work as an artist.

They’re singing and dancing and that’s all they’ve got to do.”

T-Pain has much more to do – and he’s been doing it since he was just a kid. Faheem Rasheed Najm was born in 1985 in Tallahassee, Fla. (that’s

the T in T-Pain), and after meeting producer Ben Tankard (a family friend) as a little boy, T-Pain turned his bedroom into a makeshift studio with a keyboard, a beat machine and a four-track recorder at age 10.

He joined the rap group Nappy Headz in 2004, got signed by Akon to Konvict Muzik, started singing instead of rapping. He released his debut album, “Rappa Ternt Sanga,” in 2005 and started his rise to the front ranks of the urban music scene.

His second CD, 2007’s “Epiphany,” became T-Pain’s first album to reach No. 1 on the “Billboard” magazine album chart, and was followed a year later by the CD, “Thr33 Ringz,” which reached No. 4 on the “Billboard” album chart.

His latest CD is last year’s “rEVOLVEr,” which was released in December. It had actually been finished in 2010, but he chose to hold back the release in hopes that record sales would increase. In the interim, his label, Jive Records, was folded into RCA, which released “rEVOLVEr.”

During the gap between his third and fourth CDs, T-Pain made guest appearances on several singles, including the 2010 Grammy-nominated tracks “got Money” (with Lil Wayne), “Low” (with Flo Rida) and “I’m on a Boat” (with The Lonely Island), not to mention the Grammy-winning “Blame It.” (T-Pain also won a 2008 Grammy for Best Rap Song for his collaboration with Kanye West on “Good Life.”)

He runs his own label, Nappy Boy Entertainment, works at developing other artists and is involved in all sorts of media ventures, like making his iPhone app.

“I’d rather be long lasting in the industry,” T-Pain said. “Look at Quincy Jones. He can walk into any studio and cut a song right now. He never wanted to be a star. He is an artist who has worked for years with lots of people. He’s got the respect. That’s what I want.”

Copyright 2012 Wild Raspberry Inc.

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