There are two days in T-Pain's life that have shaped his legacy. First was the day he first heard Auto-Tune while listening to Jennifer Lopez's If You Had My Love, a day that would spark a two-year journey to find the effect he'd heard. Speaking during Berklee's Visiting Artist Series, T-Pain explains, "I’d get these cracked CDs of plugins from my friends, and I’d go through every preset, and go ‘One of these has got to be it. If it’s available, then I gotta find it." While Auto-Tune had been commercially available since 1997, it's hard to look past T-Pain as the musician that showed its true power.
The second day wasn't music-related, but instead involved a different passion of his. As an avid gamer, T-Pain's time is often spent playing the latest games on the latest consoles, and his manager wanted to help him monetise his passion. Speaking to MTV, T-Pain explains that streaming on Twitch was a way to connect with both old and new fans while showing off his skills in a whole new field. He says, "When I'm gaming, and I do some cool shit, [I'll] come up to my wife, she'll be like, 'What's wrong?' I'm like, 'I just did some cool shit and nobody is going to see it!' Nobody was in the room with me! I'm so pissed off!"
You can consider Twitch the second act in T-Pain's career. The first act, his musical career, saw him win two Grammys, appear on countless #1 hits and revolutionise the way artists like Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne, Future and more used vocal effects like Auto-Tune. T-Pain's influence cannot be overstated; both in the musical world, and the world of Twitch.
His Twitch stream was the setting for an infamous rant, speaking about the originality (or lack thereof) in the music industry. In mid-2021, T-Pain exploded on stream, shouting, “You know when your shit sounds like somebody else’s shit. You’re making it because you think—because you’re in the studio, like, ‘What’s the No. 1 record right now? We need to make another one of those!’ Stop doing that! Stop! You’re not original! Give me some original shit!”
Rather than just complain about the lack of originality, T-Pain has been using his platform to show his audience what music artists are making, and what he likes. According to Twitchstats, T-Pain has streamed 540 hours in 2021, to an average of 1,991 viewers. He's got an audience that hangs off his every word, and a musical recommendation from T-Pain is rolled-gold. He's not afraid to get animated when he's really enjoying a track that's been sent to him - which has resulted in some pretty amazing reactions, including his response after hearing Sydney rapper Mason Dane and Canberra MC Kirklandd.
When Mason Dane shared his single DASH with T-Pain, he couldn't have predicted the superstar's reaction. Speaking to Cool Accidents about T-Pain's influence on him growing up, Mason says, "Just like anybody my age that was growing up in the late 2000s, T-Pain was on the hooks of all the massive songs. I remember jamming out to Low, Kiss Kiss and All I Do Is Win at school discos in like Year 5/6. I've always loved the way he sounds too and the way his vocals are stacked. He's such a legend! Since becoming a writer and artist, I've come to admire his talent so much more. I still bump 5 O'Clock to this day!"
Reading the comments on the video for DASH, it's immediately evident that a recommendation from T-Pain carries immense weight, even more so when T-Pain says that the quality of the song makes him want to "punch [Mason] in the face when he sees him [him]". In any other context, or from anyone else, it might be a frightening statement - but coming from T-Pain, it's just another example of his love for the next generation of musicians.
Speaking about the moment he heard T-Pain's reaction to DASH, Mason explains, "I was on a Discord call with all my boys back home when he first checked out DASH. I felt a lot of nerves and then excitement when he gave that hilarious reaction and kept running it back."
The shoutout on T-Pain's Twitch has given Mason the motivation to keep pushing - and he's seen the impact that a T-Pain shoutout can make. He says, "I'm still not doing millions of streams yet, but this really feels like the wheels are starting to roll. That one TikTok gained me like 60k followers and sent my streams crazy. I'm just super grateful that things are moving and I'm ready for whatever's next."
It's a similar experience to that of Canberra MC Kirklandd, who's made a name for himself thanks to his blend of hip-hop and pop-punk. Much like Mason, T-Pain was one of the biggest artists in the world in Kirklandd's youth - and despite his mum's initial disapproval, he was a big fan. He says, "Bartender and Buy U A Drank were the biggest songs in the world during my first year of high school. Even when I was younger, I remember Rappa Ternt Sanga dropping when I was a kid, and my mother straight up refused to buy it for me (I’m In Luv With A Stripper didn’t sit super well with her)."
Speaking about T-Pain's reaction to Knowbody, as well as his gratitude for T-Pain's time, Kirklandd says, "I feel like what got me was how genuine his reaction was to the music – he vibed with my song, Knowbody, praised the vid, tweeted it, followed me on IG and we’ve spoken a bit since the reaction. If that isn’t genuine support I don’t know what is, and for someone in his position to spend that much time (it took him two 8-hour review sessions over two days to get to my video) giving emerging artists a platform for their music is super dope."
It can be hard for Australian artists to make a splash overseas - but with the backing of a game-changer like T-Pain, the sky is the limit. Given T-Pain's audience is global, the exposure he gives to Australian artists, in particular, is invaluable - and it's led to a slight shift in strategy for Kirklandd and his music. "Since the reaction, I’ve seen some new engagement from audiences in the US, and my focus has definitely shifted towards reaching that market more with this punk mixtape I’m releasing next year – the reaction when people found out I was Australian in the Twitch comments was wild."
Mason and Kirklandd aren't the only Australian artists that have gotten some love on T-Pain's stream, and his reaction to ONEFOUR's Street Guide Part. 1 is instantly memorable. T-Pain's repeated praise for Australian music is yet another example of Australia's increased presence on the global music stage, which Mason attributes to superstars like The Kid LAROI, as well as the work of tastemakers like T-Pain. "I think it goes without saying that LAROI has really internationally shined a light on Australia and made people realise like 'Oh, Australia really has some talent'.
"I also think things like what T-Pain does, opening his platform to other people to show what our country has to offer goes a long way, and so far I don't think anyone has disappointed. I'm so geed to see what the future holds for Australian music and the international crossover!"
T-Pain's comments about Mason Dane's music were genuine, proven by his reaction to Mason's bouncy new single, STAY DOWN. He's gone from wanting to fight Mason to wanting to sign him, and it demonstrates that he's keeping up with the career of artists he digs. His streams aren't just for show - he's committed to seeing new artists succeed. T-Pain's embracing his role as a source of wisdom for up-and-coming artists, and the music industry is a lot better for it.
The success and impact of T-Pain's Twitch stream are indicative of his career as a whole. He's always been a step ahead of the curve, and while musicians like Drake, Danny Brown, Deadmau5 and more have streamed/appeared on Twitch in recent years, T-Pain was one of the first to showcase the power the platform could have for artists everywhere. T-Pain's always been a trailblazer, and we doubt that's ever going to change.