When we spoke to T-Pain on BBC Radio 5 Live, he’d just turned 35 – an experience we learned from him is “like a bowl of baboons” – and he looked physically thin, with weathered eyes that betray an unexpected reticence.
“I really like the celebration of my youth, and I still do a lot of partying,” he said. “With them-under one, I see it as hell. But they’re like roller coasters, you can’t scream because you’re like, ‘I can’t let that coaster hurt me.’”
But T-Pain – real name Faheem Najm – did express hope that when he retired he’d be the most influential rapper to ever come out of Florida, and one of only three rappers – alongside Puff Daddy and Master P – to reach the crossover audience he’s eyeing now. “We’re challenging ourselves and trying to get that Edge,” he said, referring to Kendrick Lamar.
In the meantime, the man behind pop hits like “Buy U a Drank”, “Tear in My Heart” and “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’)”, and nicknames like “Phat PussyCat”, is cashing in with a new book of portraits inspired by his favorite heroes, music legends Tupac Shakur, Eminem and Jay-Z, which hit shops in April.