September 30, 1985
Tallahassee, Florida, United States
T-Pain was an American singer/rapper who became an ubiquitous presence on pop radio throughout the 2000s. With his trademark use of Auto-Tune as an aesthetic choice, he was arguably the first performer to blur the lines between rapper and singer, opening up possibilities for what hip-hop and R&B could be, and despite detractors writing off his music as trite and mindless, his success spoke for itself. Born Faheem Rasheed Najm on September 30, 1985 in Tallahassee, FL, T-Pain was raised in a Muslim household, though he no longer practiced the religion as an adult. He was interested in music from a very young age; he first spent time in a recording studio at the age of 3, sitting in on a session with gospel jazz artist/producer Ben Tankard, a family friend. By the age of 10, T-Pain had turned his bedroom into a makeshift studio, complete with a keyboard, beat machine, and four-track recorder. He eventually took on the name T-Pain, which is short for "Tallahassee Pain," and is meant to represent the hardships he experienced while living there. In 2004, T-Pain joined a local hip-hop group called Nappy Headz, who gained some notoriety through their cover of "Locked Up," by R&B sensation Akon. Impressed with their effort, Akon signed T-Pain to a contract with his label, Konvict Muzik. Once he was signed, T-Pain made the decision to deliver his raps in a singing voice, with his vocals smothered in the digital grime of Auto-Tune. His debut album, "Rappa Ternt Sanga" (2005), reached number 33 on the Billboard 200, and was eventually certified gold. For his second album, T-Pain remained on the Konvict roster, but also got help from Jive Records. "Epiphany" (2007), debuted at Number One on the Billboard 200, and eventually sold just under a million copies. At this time, however, T-Pain was arguably more well-known as a guest star on other artists' songs: from 2006-2010, he was a featured guest on more than 50 chart-topping singles. His third album, "Thr33 Ringz" (2008), was the first released by his own label, Nappy Boy Entertainment. However, it sold considerably less than "Epiphany," signaling that perhaps the public was suffering from T-Pain fatigue. In response, he pulled an album he had planned for 2009, tentatively titled "Uber," and focused on more collaborations, and an iPhone app that mimics his trademark Auto-Tuned vocals. In June of 2010, T-Pain confirmed that he had finished his fourth album, but was holding off on releasing it until album sales overall improved. After more than two years on anticipation, and a switch to RCA Records following the dissolution of Jive, "RevolveR" (2011) was released to weak reviews and even weaker sales. Perhaps longing for better days, T-Pain spent the next few years cutting off his trademark dreadlocks, dropping a mixtape, "Stoic" (2012), a greatest hits album, and a disappointing collaborative mixtape with Lil' Wayne. He would not put out his next official album, "Oblivion" (2017), for another six years. Reviews and sales were better; it seems that T-Pain's absence made the hearts of the public grow fonder. On February 27, 2019, T-Pain surprised released his sixth album, "1UP" (2019), a twelve song concept record about his love of video games, and announced a world tour to promote the album.