October 31, 2014
This Halloween T-Pain has removed his (autotune) mask. Last night I was clicking around the interwebs and stumbled across a new Tiny Desk concert featuring the one and only T-Pain. I’m not entirely sure that I had ever heard his non-vocoded voice. The result is beautiful. He is accompanied by Toro, who takes the minimalist approach to backing keyboard. If I had one word to describe the usually swagger filled T-Pain, it would be vulnerable.
Not that he doesn’t deliver on his performance, his voice is wonderful, and at times actually resembles the vocoder-modified version I’m used to hearing. In this performance he doesn’t have anything to hide behind, and you can see that it pulls him out of his comfort zone. Without the bass line this becomes the most arrhythmic hip-hop performances I have ever seen. Thankfully T-Pan and Toro are world class musicians (yeah I just said that) and they are able to communicate both verbally and non verbally to keep this train on the tracks.
We have here a Pop music juggernaut, putting himself out there with no production crutch. The “king of autotune” is showing the world that he doesn’t need the autotune to sound good. A sentiment he echoed himself with this quote.
“People felt like I was using it [autotune] to sound good, but I was just using it to sound different.”
To me, this is a notable performance, and a rare glimpse into the deep layers of pop music that are so often buried beneath layers and layers of superficial texture and marketing.