by Jamie Foster Brown and Sabrina M. Parker
(Excerpted from the April/May issue of Sister 2 Sister magazine)
After talking to T-Pain for the March issue of Sister 2 Sister, Jamie went to Atlanta to help T-Pain celebrate his mom Aliyah Najm’s birthday. During a visit to her beautiful home, which T-Pain decorated, Aliyah shared the real deal about raising Faheem Rasheed Najm, a.k.a. T-Pain. Aliyah can’t manage to call him T-Pain, but she’s okay with everyone calling her Mama Pain.
Mama Pain sheds light on some of the stories that T-Pain told us in his interview. She also described the household he grew up in. He said he was “the dirty boy in school,” but his mom said that’s because he didn’t like to buy or change clothes!
Jamie asked Mama Pain to share the family’s story to teach young women how she raised a successful man. What Jamie learned was that Mama Pain couldn’t have done it without the strong father figure who shaped T-Pain’s outlook on life. She spoke highly of her ex-husband Shaheed and shared her hope that Shaheed and T-Pain will come together in the future. Their relationship was torn apart after Shaheed tried to help T-Pain launch his music career.
Mama Pain also spoke highly of T-Pain’s wife Amber, who uses unconventional methods (she lets him look at strippers) to keep T-Pain happy. Read on to learn about the supportive family behind superproducer T-Pain, and check out the video from this interview below or at s2smagazine.com/videos.
Sabrina: Why didn’t T-Pain have friends?
Mama Pain: He didn’t have friends because he and his brothers [are] like seven, eight years apart, so he was almost like an only child. They were able to go places that he couldn’t go, so he was a mama’s boy. He was at home all the time. So he basically didn’t develop having friends because he was a loner. He was fulfilled with his family, so therefore he just didn’t venture out to have friends. Even at school, everybody else would be playing and he’d be doing his own thing.
Sabrina: So was he outgoing amongst the family when he was hanging out at home?
Mama Pain: Oh, yes, he really liked being around his siblings, although his brothers didn’t want him around them because he was so much younger. So he didn’t really hang with his brothers as much as he would like to, but they involved him in some stuff and, of course, he interacted with his father a lot. Wherever his father went, he went. We owned a restaurant and he was always at the restaurant after school and before school. And he went to get supplies with his daddy, and his daddy would go fishing. We had a boat and we would take the whole neighborhood out on the boat. His father ran a boys’ program, so all the guys came to our house for the club meetings and stuff like that. So it broadened his knowledge. And his father was a minister in the Muslim community, so therefore he got a lot of philosophy from his father.
Sabrina: He was saying he didn’t have the finest clothes and he just didn’t have all the things that money could buy. So how did you help him gain confidence in himself, even though he had raggedy clothes or didn’t look like the other kids.
Mama Pain: Faheem said—I’m sorry, I call him Faheem; I can’t call him T-Pain. [laughs] But Faheem says that because that’s his concept of it. His father worked for the city, making $5,000 a month. I worked for the medical field. I was making almost $4,000 a month. So it wasn’t that he didn’t have; it was that he didn’t want. But he was young. He talks on what he feels now, but not actually what was reality. He was the type of child that I had to force him into things. I bought him stuff; he would never ask for anything.
Pick up the April/May issue of Sister 2 Sister magazine to see how T-Pain’s attitude on clothes changed after he started working with the likes of Bow Wow and Chris Brown.