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At 20 tracks, it’s safe to assume that T-Pain has plenty to say on his new mixtape The Iron Way. On Wednesday night (March 25), the crooner known for lacing his vocals with autotune hosted an intimate listening session for the project, after which he spoke exclusively with Hip-Hop Wired.

Discussing how music changed in his absence, Teddy Pain gave his rationale on what a “swag rapper” is versus what it means to earn your keep in the music game “the iron way.” He also spoke on why he collaborated with newcomer and Certified Fresh alum OG Maco, and the acoustic performance for NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concert” that eventually went viral.

The interview begins below.

Photo: YouTube

Hip-Hop Wired: You took a break away from the game to sit and take a break… [T-Pain interrupts]

T-Pain: I didn’t really sit, though. It’s 21 tracks on the mixtape. I think 18 of them were created in the last month. I went in. When [DJ] Drama said he was cool with me having a Gangsta Grillz, I had to go all brand new, because I have a new mindset and attitude about things. I didn’t want to go back and get some throwaways to put a mixtape together.

Hip-Hop Wired: What void did you see in your absence from music?

T-Pain: I think it got real monotonous. Where I left it at, I think people stayed there. Then it got into this super slow lean kind of feeling. That became the only way to have swag. Everyone wanted to have more swag than the next person, but nobody wanted to have fun anymore.

I think I left [music] too fun, and I set the bar to high for fun. By the time I took a break, it was the “All I Do Is Win” era. And nobody could top that, so everybody was like “I can’t top it, so I’m going to go way the f*ck below it.”

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