All I Do Is Win
T-Pain surprises fans with T-Wayne and heads in a new direction.
Interview: Sidney Madden
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

Ten years ago, T-Pain pushed rap’s boundaries thanks to Auto-Tune. It was shortly after dropping his first No. 1 album, Epiphany, that the Tallahassee, Fla. hitmaker formed the rap duo T-Wayne with New Orleans’ reigning champ, Lil Wayne. Together the pair was supposed to drop an album, but then radio silence. As years flew by, fans nearly forgot about the fabled T-Wayne album—until Pain reminded them of it this past May. With little notice, the 31-year-old shared an eight-track project on SoundCloud of his and Wayne’s best unreleased material circa 2009.

Now, T-Pain is cherishing his artistic freedom more than ever and ironically enough, the nostalgic release of T-Wayne is helping propel him forward. The melodic maestro has collaborated with younger acts like Lil Yachty and Young M.A over the past few months and plans to drop his final album under RCA Records this year. The Nappy Boy caught up with XXL about his surprise project and navigating the road ahead.

XXL: You and Lil Wayne had been talking about your T-Wayne project for years, but it never happened. Why’d you finally decide to drop it?

Back then, there were some issues with labels. And then, in the middle of us getting it all taken care of, Wayne went to jail. So there was a lot that prevented us from making it happen. Creating it was the easy part. It was all happening while we were on our [I Am Music] tour together. We just pretty much went back and forth on tour buses recording. It was just the legal stuff. It’s not like we didn’t care about it anymore. It wasn’t any of our faults, but once Wayne went to jail, it was a lost project.

Was it a lost tapes situation?

No, I’ve had it for a minute but I was being respectful to our labels. But they’ve never been respectful to us, so then I thought about it and was like, “Who’s going to stop me from doing it? Is somebody going to sue me for something I’m not making any money off of?”

Did you talk to Wayne before it dropped?

No. I talked to him, not right before. I told him I was thinking about it, but this was like, a year ago and he said, “Yeah, drop that shit.” Wayne’s still pushing. Wayne’s still one of the best rappers alive.

Do you see yourself dropping another album this year?

Definitely working on an album. It’s called Oblivion. A lot of it’s produced by Dre Moon, he’s a new producer. It was supposed to be a collab mixtape between him and I but then once some of the songs started getting to the label, the label was like, “Oh, this is a fucking album!” And this would be my last album on the label. So, for them to accept this I’m like, Oh, alright I’m free after this.

What do you think about mumble rap and where does it fit into hip-hop?

I don’t understand why people say it’s mumble rap. I just don’t get the term. It’s not like I don’t understand what they’re saying mumble rap is, but the’s really not that. It’s just leaned-up niggas, everybody having fun, everybody having a good-ass time. Just don’t let them have too much fun, because if I come home and my 8-year-old set the curtains on fire because he said he’s just having fun, I’m not going to sit by and just let that happen. So don’t let it happen to where music changes all the way. We still got the Sminos and we still got the Brysons, so it’s like, you don’t have to take time out of your day to comment on something you don’t like. Just don’t listen to it. It’s not a big deal.

Check out more from XXL’s Summer 2017 issue including the cover story with the 2017 XXL Freshman class, our interview with actor Demetrius Shipp Jr.Ski Mask The Slump God's grind for self-made success, Doin' Lines with Yo Gotti, $uicideboy$ and how they use hip-hop as therapy, Sonny Digital taking the helm of the 2017 XXL Freshman Class cyphers, Jazz Cartier preparing for his time to shine and more.

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