It’s crazy how some artists like you and Akon are such international superstars but you’re still low-key enough that you kinda have a personal life without the paparazzi and people all up in your business. How have you been able to maintain that distance? I ain’t that famous to have muthafuckas following me around with a camera. Akon has white [fans] too, and the pop crowd. For some reason I can’t get out of the hood crowd. I guess it’s ‘cause of what I talk about and how I look. When you started out, was music the only career path you had in mind? What do you think you woulda ended up doing if this didn’t pop off for you? I ain’t got nothing else. I still don’t got another career path in mind. This is pretty much it for me. When I started, it was just for the love of doing music. I wasn’t watching the videos thinking, “I’ma get this car,” or, “I’ma have this many girls around me.” I wasn’t even into that. Kinda like how I am now, I ain’t got as many chains as everybody else. I ain’t ballin’ like everybody else, or it doesn’t seem like I am. I keep my [money]. That’s how the rich stay rich. Be cheap! (laughs) Buy the Mini Cooper instead of the Bentley? Exactly. I only got one expensive ass car, and that’s the Lambo. That was a gift to myself. When we did our first photo shoot, before “Sprung” popped off, you had actually produced and directed a music video for the song as well. Are you planning on directing any of your videos in the near future? Yeah, I’m still doing the same thing with my videos. I just don’t want the stress ‘cause all that shit comes with stress. I ain’t tryna have all that responsibility. I’ma let other muthafuckas do that. I’ve done enough on my own. I’ve proved that to myself [that I can do it] so I’ll let other people do it [now]. When I got the Producer Of The Year [Award at the 2008 BMI Awards, along with J.R. Rotem and Kanye West] I felt like I don’t really have to produce that much anymore. Let other muthafuckers have that stress. I’m real hands-on [with my video concepts], but I don’t wanna be known as the director. The last couple videos I filmed, the [ideas] were really all me. They had all the capabilities and control to really bring my shit out. Once I got hands on it really brought it to life.
theme for your stage show for the upcoming tour with Lil Wayne? Right now, I’m going with the circus theme. It’s just having fun. Fucking with people and fucking with their minds. I want people to ask, “Why the fuck is he doing that shit?” A lot of people don’t understand that’s really how you [become successful as an artist]. Don’t give everybody everythang, let ‘em have some kind of mystery about you. That’s why a lot of people haven’t seen me without my shades on. So when I’m ready to take my shades away from the image, they still got something to look forward to, instead of already knowin’ what I look like without shades on. When you started, a lot of people doubted that the auto-tune effect would work for you. Obviously, they were wrong. Are there any “I told you so” moments that stick out in your mind? Any critics that had to eat their words later on? Pretty much everybody. Nobody thought I would get past “I’m Sprung.” Then “I’m In Luv (Wit A Stripper)” came out and they were like, “Okay, this is the last one right here.” Then “Buy You A Drank” came out and they were like, “This gotta be the last one from this nigga with the auto-tune.” And I just kept coming. Then I started doing all the features with everybody and shit got crazy. Everyone had to eat their fuckin’ words. I had gone to everybody, and every record label and every artist I tried to get on with was like, “Nah, we good.” They didn’t think [the auto-tune] shit was gonna work. But you know, they couldn’t see the future. So fuck it. I heard some of the stuff Wayne is working on for his rock album. Are you looking at going in a different direction as well? Oh yeah, I’ma definitely switch it up. I’m not gonna switch it up hard, I’ma keep it classic TPain. If somebody didn’t know who Wayne... The rest of this OZONE interview is on newsstands now - look for T-Pain on the cover.
What about your stage show? I read that Kanye was really involved in the design and format of his stage show, with the whole spaceship concept. Are you developing a OZONE MAG // 11