Hip-Hop Wired: So, what would you say the difference is between the so-called “swag” rapper and an artist who simply has fun?
T-Pain: I think the swag person is just trying to be to cool. That’s the jock of the high school. You’re just trying to have swag ’cause you have the newest clothes, and you say the coolest sh*t. That’s the gold way; I get my sh*t the iron way.
I’m the one that scores the most in every game. I put in my work. I make sure that my parents ain’t paying for sh*t. I’m the motherf*cker in elementary school selling candy. I’m the motherf*cker trading Super Nintendo games. I get my sh*t the iron way, I earned what I got. That sh*t doesn’t require swag, it requires intelligence and passion.
It’s a lot of people that got in the game that just started rapping nine or 10 months ago, but they’re supposedly making “hits.” It isn’t a hit if they don’t last for longer than a month or if you can name a song of theirs two months from now. A lot of people, you can’t name song of theirs that was once number one. And that’s what a swag rapper is.
You can’t measure someone’s success by swag, but you can measure success by passion and real work, and sh*t that they earned. That’s the difference between a swag rapper and a motherf*cker who’s getting it the iron way.
Hip-Hop Wired: It’s funny that you say that, because I’m an OG Maco fan, but some people say he’s an one-hit wonder. What made you collab with him on “Wait A Minute?”
T-Pain: You can tell OG Maco doesn’t give a sh*t. He doesn’t care about anyone else’s opinion. He isn’t a swag rapper. He has so much fun doing music, and you can tell. All of that screaming he does in his music, you can tell that’s the sh*t he wanted to do and ain’t nobody in the studio saying “You know what you need to do? You need to scream that sh*t.”
Nobody’s tell him to do that. He’s having fun doing what’s in his mind. He heard that sh*t in his head and did it. That’s what talent is–being able to do the sh*t that you hear and not worrying about if someone is going to give a sh*t about it or not. Not seeking anyone else’s approval. As long as you have your own approval, that’s what life is about. I saw that in Maco.
Hip-Hop Wired: Last question. That NPR acoustic session had social media going crazy. Did you think people would react like that?
T-Pain: I didn’t think it would get that kind of impact, because it’s normal to me. I know what my voice sounds like and I know how I can sing. But I didn’t pay attention to the fact that I’d never done something on that platform. Something that was going to reach that kind of audience, so I didn’t put much into the thought of it becoming a big thing. It surprised the hell out of me.
I was regular to me, because I hear my voice everyday. But even when I do meet and greets at my shows, fans say “Oh my God, your sound just like it does on records.” I don’t even have to sing. But I don’t know how I’m supposed to sound. And I don’t know what people think autotune does to your voice, but it’s obviously not the normal sh*t, so there’s that.