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T-Pain “Say The Word (I’m Gone)”

Perhaps more than any other modern artist, T-Pain's life is riddled with qualifiers. Has there ever been a singer so inventive, and with so many chart-topping hits, for whom fans have to take up the same tired arms...

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Five years ago today, the highly-anticipated third installment in Jay Z's Blueprint series finally became a reality, as Jay premiered the album's first official single, "D.O.A. (Death Of Auto-Tune)" on Hot 97. After T-Pain broke through to the mainstream in 2005, the rapper-turned-singer's auto-tuned style spawned countless imitators and adopters and ruled both the charts and the airwaves, simultaneously frustrating and delighting listeners, depending on which side of the fence you were on. When Kanye West dropped his desperately-anguished 808s And Heartbreak in November 2008, it marked a newfound acceptance for the form and a bold new direction for Kanye's career as he transitioned away from the sped-up-soul beats and tongue-in-cheek punchlines that he'd built his career on.

Six months later, Jamie Foxx and T-Pain's torturously-auto-tuned "Blame It" was wrapping up a 14-week run on top of the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and Jay Z had apparently seen enough. With lyrics like "This is anti-auto-tune/Death of the ringtone/This ain’t for iTunes/This ain’t for sing-alongs" and "My raps don’t have melodies/This should make niggas wanna go and commit felonies/Get your chain tooken/I may do it myself, I’m so Brooklyn," he made his point loud and clear. Many people responded—T-Pain and Lil Wayne among them—and others thought that the song was a pointed shot straight at Kanye (since the two embarked on Watch The Throne shortly after, it probably wasn't). But either way, the heir to The Notorious B.I.G.'s throne had spoken, and the matter may have been settled.

Except it wasn't. The track, and the wave of anti-auto-tune that followed, may have sent T-Pain into exile, but as 808s And Heartbreak became latently appreciated for its brutal honesty and bold sound, auto-tune persisted in the hip-hop world. And then came Future, the Dungeon Family-affiliated hook-master from Atlanta who unabashedly broke through to hip-hop stardom by mangling his vocals to such a degree that the phrase "unintelligible Future verse" was celebrated as something positive rather than cringe-worthy. It was Future, as well as the persistence of Kanye and Wayne, who pulled the effect back from the dead, paving the way for the Kirko Bangzes, Rich Homie Quans and Young Thugs—not to mention T-Pain's pseudo-comeback—that we have on our hands today.

Auto-Tune may have started out with a bad rap, but since Hov tried to kill it five years ago, hip-hop has seen plenty of great songs that lean on the effect. XXL has put together 30 of those to commemorate the anniversary of auto-tune's "death." Turn up. —Christopher Harris, Marvin Jules and XXL Staff

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30 Great Auto-Tuned Songs Since Jay Z’s “Death Of Auto-Tune”

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T-Pain: “I Changed Music Completely”

T-Pain: "I Changed Music Completely"

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T-Pain’s Auto-Tune By the Numbers [Before and After “D.O.A.”]

With T-Pain vowing to stop using Auto-Tune, XXL takes a look back at the hook master's success pre and post Jay-Z's "D.O.A."...

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T-Pain Gets His Freak On With Adult Swim

T-Pain gets animated and calls out XXL for being haters...

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