FEATURE HIGHLIGHTS ’08:Out Of Tune
T-Pain done started something. Ever since the “rappa ternt sanga”began setting it off on various hip-hop hooks, as well as his own hits, artists as diverse as Snoop Dogg and R. Kelly have taken their own turns putting lips to the Vocoder (Editor’s note: Ayo!) in hopes of mirroring his success. In the past month alone it seems rap vocals have never been more pitched (or is it out of pitch?). Kanye West (twice), Gorilla Zoe, Birdman and Yung Berg (on the way) are the latest Auto-Tune bandits.
But not every MC can carry a tune; even with a computer-aided program that could make Fran Drescher sound like Faith Evans. Here, XXLmag.com, rates the rappers that made the “singing” grade.
Curtis called out Ja Rule for crooning, but the G-Unit general hit more high notes than an opera singer on “Rider Pt. 2.” Sure, he’s carried a tune or two in the past on some of his hooks, but this time Fif looks like he has his aim set on T-Pain and Teddy Riley’s pockets. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Grade: B
Where T. Pizzle uses the Vocoder to enhance his off key chants, Yeezy’s more after effect-using the instrument to spice up notes he’s already reached on previous recordings. ‘Ye even started using it live on his recently launched “Glow In The Dark” tour. Subtly Auto-Tuned on his two most recent guest spots (“Young Jeezy’s “Put On” & Lil’ Wayne’s “Lollipop” remix), he earns bonus points with hilarious lines like, “I need just at least/one of Russell’s nieces.” Chuch! Grade: B
The Queen Bee is used to putting lips to shit, but, er ah, maybe she should just stick to…. Kim sounds like she has a bad cough on her“Rider” freestyle. Maybe she has something else in her mouth? Grade: D
Pain done started something, but Snoop Dogg opened the floodgates for rappers to use the Tuner. Prior to “Sexual Eruption,” mostly R&B singers (Chris Brown, R. Kelly) got their Roger Troutman on. Complete with a fearlessly comical video clip, “Sexual Eruption” is arguably the best T-Pain-less use of the instrument. Troutman would be so proud. Grade: A-
Zoe. No. Grade: F
‘Clef barely roboticized his vocals on “The Sweetest Girl.” In this case, less is more… Grade: B-
The little pup makes like a mack daddy, boasting about making it drizzle on “Pole In My Basement,” but if he had serious paper he would’ve just paid T-Pain to tackle the hook. DIY steez works sometimes, and Bow Weezy holds his own, but the real deal might have made this mundane number a real hit. Grade: C
T-Pain appearing on a song titled “Kiss Kiss” just weeks after praising Ray J’s shlong: priceless. Ironically, Pizzle, who’s usually Vocoder-centric, abstained from using it on the record, while Brown, who doesn’t need it, picked up the tool. Pause! Nice touch! Pause! Grade: B+.
Kells can do no wrong. Even T-Pain had to bow in the presence of greatness. The Tallahassee singer called out a few artist for turning to ‘Tunes without his permission, but he gave the R the free pass.Kelly’s new single “Hairbraider” finds the Windy City vet going robotic with his vocals. He ain’t murdering T-Pain at his own shit, but a hit’s a hit. Grade: B+
Wayne appears on a record, Baby jumps on it. Weezy gets interviewed, Baby chimes in. T-Wayne gets Vocoder-happy, Baby takes a crack at it. Shawty Lo’s “Foolish” remix features Birdman unnecessarily pitching his entire verse, raps, quasi harmonies and even his ad-libs. Resurrecting his trademark “Bbbrrrrrrrrrrr” birdcall through Auto-Tune, though, could have scored him additional points, but he just couldn’t wing it. Like… father, uh, not like son! Grade: D-