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.

50 Cent

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

Kanye West

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

Lil’ Kim

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

Snoop Dogg

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-

Gorilla Zoe

Zoe. No. Grade: F

Wyclef Jean

‘Clef barely roboticized his vocals on “The Sweetest Girl.” In this case, less is more… Grade: B-

Bow Wow

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

Chris Brown

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+.

R.Kelly

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+

Birdman

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-

  • Paul M.

    FIRST NIGGA … Jay-Z Gunna Win Them All

  • jonathan

    we know she is the best! but she is the best for you all! not me! she is just ruining my life! you understand! goodluck and take care! my inheritance predates all that RICO criminal shit! thats you all! you dont get it! you are not using your brain!

  • WSCREEPA

    NB RIDAZ BEAT ALL THIS GUYS!!!!

  • Killapat

    All of them suck, the vocoder is the gayest trend in hip-hop right now, how about some fuckin originality guys!

  • fliushdfulidh

    Zoe, no had me dying

  • jonathan

    you all did that 2 her. you all did that! buy doing what you did! and hating on me! do you expect me to walk away and let you all steal what was to left to me! on top of you doing what you are doing! your stupid what do you expect someone is gonna loose! and no matter how many people dont like me no matter what the law is the law! you all are killing the economy and its stolen! its not even like its legal! its all fucking stolen! you think people aint putting it together! talking about sweetest girl! then she should have known better! for real for real! you aint using your brains! someone gotta loose in the end! in the end the bad guys always g to prison! always! you understand!

  • Deez Nutz

    Kanye killed that verse he had on “Put On”…I wish i didnt have to wait til the end of the song the hear it…Snoop-A+…everyone else sucked ballz

  • T-Wayne

    Where is Lil’ Wayne with “Lollipop”?

    Grade: A-

    • FATJOESUCKSCOCK

      that aint lil wayne singin on lollipop its static major

      • T-Wayne

        Do you listen the song? Static Major do the hook and T-Wayne do the bars and both uses the Auto-Tune!!!

        • bleh

          not only did he use it on lollipop but on plenty of other songs

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  • bbbones

    next up Just Blaze and Saigon on Believe It

    • JP

      even though i hate the autotune, that snippet for that song is crazy
      im glad sai aint use it
      when is the full version coming out

      but anywayz, like i said, autotune needs to stop..i lived with snoop on sexual seduction, but this is getting out of hand
      how ya’ll aint gonna comment lil wayne and he already got like 20 songs with it
      and damn i wonder how young berg gonna sound with it

  • sTL WHite Guy

    how bout chamillionaire, dude can sing

    • Koopa

      yeah he can, but he dont need that vocoder crap to sing good

  • B

    Will someone please ban Jonathan’s weird ass from this site? Hey, Jonathan, are you really crazy or are you just fucking weird? Either way, I just don’t get it. Someone should give him his own blog.

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  • http://myspace.com/fabdeuce LoquaciousUno

    I wish they knew that it wasn’t a vocoder (which you actually have to manually play the musical notes which takes talent and thought) and figured out it was Antares AUTOTUNE and MELODYNE which do all the work for you and make you sound like a nauseated robot on base. The first major song with Autotune on it was a CHER song so all theses dudes are really biting cher and thats a really really bad look. Hopefully autotune meets an early and well deserved grave in the near future.

  • http://xxl we got next

    THAT IS NOT T-PAIN’S SHIT, WHERE DO U NIGGAZ GET THIS SHIT FROM, FROM MY UNDERSTANDINGS ROGER TROUTMAN USED THIS SHIT BEFORE T-PAIN WAS BORN !!!

  • PLAYBOY G

    FUCK IT FUCK IT FUCK IT ITS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY LETS GET IT WEST COAST STAND UP

  • Big Jay

    Ok, XXL NEEDS to hire a writer that knows what the fuck they’re talking about.

    T-Pain uses autotune, not vocoder.

    The only song on the list that used vocoder is Sexual Eruption. I know that from watching Snoop perform the song live.

    While I’m on Snoop, Roger Troutman didn’t use autotune OR a vocoder. He played his keyboard through a talkbox. Look it up, and stop being so ignorant.

  • http://xxlmag.com yung gee

    T PAIN SUCKS DICK!!! ASK KATT WILLIAMS

  • dark vanilla

    Da only song the vocorder was good for was California Love. The vocorder is just a way for non talented singers like T-Pain make themselves sound good.