A Jamie Foster Brown interview
(excerpted from the March 2009 issue of Sister 2 Sister magazine)
From the outside looking in, T-Pain has it all. His latest album, Thr33 Ringz, was released last year and topped the Billboard Hip-Hop and iTunes charts. It also touts collabos with some of his industry friends like Lil’ Wayne and Kanye West.
T-Pain’s latest tour, the I Am Music tour with Lil’ Wayne and Keyshia Cole, packed stadiums nationwide (including Washington, D.C.’s Verizon Center, but more on that later), and his personal life is as great as ever: His wife of five years is expecting the couple’s third child in May.
First, I got to speak to the “rappa turnt sanga” about everything that’s been going on in his crazy life. I found out how he met his smart, strong wife when he was just a struggling producer. He also gave me the details on how their marriage works (hint: lots of wife-approved strippers in the house), how he grew up to be such an original guy, and why Bow Wow wants to dance-battle him.
A few days later, when T-Pain’s tour hit D.C., I briefly visited with him. While I was backstage, I witnessed a truly amazing sight: T-Pain plus his legion of circus performers gathered around for a pre-performance group prayer. But that was nothing compared to the craziness and excitement of the show itself. T-Pain brought the circus to town, complete with a Big Top Tent, women dancing on stilts, acrobats, contortionists, fire dancers, and a miniature version of Britney Spears.
Yes, a mini-Britney.
Read on for the full scoop on the amazing man they call T-Pain.
Jamie: How are you doing?
Jamie: It was hard to get to you, but good things come to those who wait, right?
T-Pain: That’s what it is.
Jamie: I’m the good thing! [laughs] When am I going to see you? I come down there and I see T.I. and everybody. You ain’t never around.
T-Pain: I stay in the house.
Jamie: That’s what I was going to ask you because you write a lot of songs about being in the strip clubs and stuff like that, but do you hang out at all?
T-Pain: I’ve got a strip club in my house.
Jamie: Oh. [laughs] Do we have to audition to get in there or what? How does that happen?
T-Pain: You kind of just come in and take your clothes off and go to work.
Jamie: Anybody can do that, right?
Jamie: Your wife would whip you.
T-Pain: No, she’s the one that calls them. [laughs]
Jamie: She calls them, for real?
T-Pain: Yeah, she’s the one that calls the strippers. I don’t call them.
Jamie: She’s a smart woman. That way, she can keep check on what’s happening with her husband.
T-Pain: Exactly. That way, I ain’t got to do nothing when I’m gone.
Jamie: What made her so smart?
T-Pain: The military, I think. I don’t know.
Jamie: She was in the military?
Jamie: How did you meet her?
T-Pain: Her sister used to sing, and I was a producing it, and she came from her military base in Panama City. We was staying in Tallahassee, and she came to Tallahassee to listen to her sister’s first album, or whatever that was at that time, and that’s where we met.
Jamie: How long ago was that?
T-Pain: That was six years ago.
Jamie: Was that love at first sight?
T-Pain: Yeah, for her. That was weird.
Jamie: For her?
T-Pain: I mean, she hollered at me, you know what I’m saying? I was doing my thing with a little music back then too, so a lot of girls hit on me because of the music. I didn’t know it was that serious [for her] because she really didn’t even know about the music thing that I was doing. So that made it more awesome, and I didn’t figure all that out until a couple of days after we met.
Jamie: So she didn’t know who you were? She didn’t ever care?
T-Pain: Right. She liked me because of me, pretty much.
Jamie: I just get a kick out of watching you, like when you’re on the elephant and everything. I think it’s because you let yourself be free and that’s so important; you don’t worry about what people are going to say.
Jamie: Okay. So I want to know how were you brought up and how many kids were in the family. Tell me a little bit about Mom and Dad, if you don’t mind.
T-Pain: Well, Mom and Dad were entrepreneurs; they had a chain of restaurants in Tallahassee.
Check out the March 2009 issue of Sister 2 Sister magazine to find out why T-Pain says his bodyguards could be hurting his career and how he developed his personal style.
Photo by Dean Karr/courtesy JIVE records