Swapping Sounds: Ten Times Lil Wayne & T-Pain Switched Up Their Flow
VIBE ranks the moments Wayne piled on the autotune while T-Pain broke free of musical distortion.
Since the surprise release of T-Wayne, fans have been reminded of the art of collaboration and just how well T-Pain and Lil Wayne have mastered it. Aside from their buddy singles like “Can’t Believe It” and "Got Money," the artists have shown their abilities to utilize technology around them and at times, rely on the talent of their vocals.
Their switch-up has gone back years. With over a hundred tunes, Weezy took the autotune route for some of his mixtape cuts (Dedication, The Drought Is Over 2) in 2007 and later navigated his love for the machine into the mainstream with 2008’s “Lollipop.”
Meanwhile, T-Pain reignited the use of autotune (kudos to Roger Troutman and Teddy Riley) in 2005 with the release of “I’m Sprung.” Four stellar albums and two Grammys later, the Floridian found himself in a tiff following the wave of backlash of the tool in rap culture. It was then during an 2013 interview with Sway in The Morning when he busted out a few vocals without autotune.
The switch up reminds us of the true artistry both posses and quality throwback jams we can all enjoy.
Below, we rank the times Lil Wayne broke out the autotune and the moments T-Pain shined without it.
-By Camille Augustin & Desire Thompson
10) "Dedication 3"
What would this list be if we didn't include a song from Wayne's Dedication 3 mixtape? Sporadically, he used autotune on tracks like "WhoEver You Like" and "My Weezy," but the project's title track allowed the 34-year-old to stretch his singing capabilities thanks to autotune.
9) "I'm Goin In"
The platinum single from Drake’s So Far Gone EP warranted plenty of attention thanks to the assistance of heavyweights like Wayne and Young Jeezy. While the rapper uses the tool just slightly on the track, it was the chorus, which grew legs and stayed in our minds beyond its 2009 release.
8) "Dey Know (Remix)"
Hailed as one of the first times Wayne used autotune, Wayne stood out on the “Dirty South” version of the late Shawty Lo’s breakout hit. You can tell “Mr. Every-Time-You-See-Me-Got-A-New-Chain” enjoyed distorting his vocals and his bars so much that it went on to be a staple in his later hits.
7) "Prostitute Flange"
During the Mixtape Weezy days, the rapper was caught singing the synthesized blues, causing him to take a slow jam route on The Drought Is Over 2 track. While he went on to arguably perfect his sound on tracks like “Lollipop” and “How To Love,” nothing beats his ode to one powerful yoni.
6) "I'm So Paid"
Big Money Weezy fired off a wealthy flow on Akon's 2008 melody alongside Young Jeezy. The story of rags to riches plays out in lyric form while Wayne floats over the track with a sense of royalty.
To send a tingle down his lady fans' spines, Wayne delivered statements of steamy sessions from the VIP section of the club to the confines of the bedroom. The late Static Major's vocals also served as the assist Wayne needed to catapult the song to the top of the charts.
4) "See You In My Nightmares"
Fairly early in his mainstream autotune trip, Wayne joined Kanye’s personal trek of the auto processor his underrated LP, 808s and Heartbreak. With a strong mix of harmonies and vulnerable bars, the collaboration made Wayne’s sound more enjoyable and welcoming for fans. Ironically, T-Pain worked with Kanye to perfect the project.
3) "Love In This Club Pt. 2 (Remix)"
While you're playing the role of Beyonce while your potential bae steps into Usher's shoes, Wayne's verse serves as that guy Biggie Smalls described on "Big Poppa." With minimal use of autotune, the Young Money leader remained a fan favorite on this Here I Stand remix.
2) "Every Girl"
Anyone who heard the opening lines, “Uh, I like a long haired, thick redbone” blair out of a speaker in 2009 was forced to hop off the wall and onto the dance floor. The track, which came before the mega hit “BedRock” by the Young Money collective, had a fair share of autotune by Mack Maine, Gudda Gudda, a baby faced Drake and Jae Millz, but Weezy cleared owned the tool. Let’s be honest, do you remember any other verse from the track without sneaking a peak at Genius?
1) "Swagga Like Us"
Going toe-to-toe with T.I., Kanye West and Jay Z, Weezy utilized the voice manipulator to rattle off his riches. The New Orleans native stepped up to bat after Mr. Carter and kept the momentum of the MIA-sampled track going with his warbled wordplay.
10) "Drankin' Patna"
Teddy Pendera**down and a pianist puts you in the feels with a slowed-down version of his 2014 track that'll probably stay on repeat after you listen to it.
9) "Up Down (Do This All Day)"
During his "Tiny Desk" performance with NPR, the singer-songwriter turned his 2013 party single into a gentle hug for fans. While singing about his talents in the bedroom and his spending habits, the song is flipped around as he reaches the highest and lowest of keys.
8) "Say The Word (I'm Gone)"
The tender track released in 2015 calls for a time of reflection and insight from the talented artist. With just his voice and piano, T-Pain hits us all in the feels with somber harmonies and poignant reminders of his songwriting skills.
7) "I'm Sprung"
In 2005, T-Pain revived the evident use of autotune which Jay Z sought to bury four years later. Also at Fader Fort, Pain revisited his debut single that solidified his spot in music history. Watch it to the very end for a gratifying vocal surprise.
6) "Can't Believe It"
Featuring his T-Wayne partner, one of the Florida native's most recognizable songs received the live band treatment at the 2015 edition of Fader Fort. While it's not as acoustic and intimate as his rendition on NPR's Music Front Row, it still takes fans back to that magical time nine years ago.
5) "Okay To Smile"
As part of Pain's "Nappy Boy Unplugged Summit" series, he arranged a commemorative song to his late grandmother in 2015. Although the melody might bring a tear to your eye, Pain said it was created to actually place a smile on your face. "This song is not only for my grandmother," he said, "but also for anybody that's lost anybody."
4) "Star-Spangled Banner"
In 2015, T-Pain took center field at a Los Angeles Dodgers game to kickoff the festivities with a live performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Accompanied with chilling runs and high notes, Pain's version of the nation's anthem went viral, shining a light on his natural singing voice.
3) ”Change Is Gonna' Come" (Sam Cooke Cover)
Noted as a dedication to his father, T-Pain commemorated the 10th anniversary of debut album Rappa Ternt Sanga with a powerful rendition of the soulful classic.
2) "Buy U A Drank"
The artist left everyone speechless when he first dropped a few harmonies of his hit single on Sway In The Morning in 2013, but his "Tiny Desk" performance with NPR two years later confirmed the soulful spirit that lies in the Tallahassee native. With riffs for days, the alternative to the snap-filled song opened the doors to make this revisited single a red light special.
1) "Crazy” (Gnarls Barkley Cover)
First performed at his special concert with NPR’s R&B front, T-Pain took on the cover one more time with GQ in 2016. Stripped of drums and rhythmic patterns that took the original song to the top of the charts in 2006, the artist creates a more theatrical version that does more to prove his impeccable talent.