Dear T-Pain and Weezy,
I hope this letter finds you both well.
Where do I even begin? I guess the proper, and only, place to start is by expressing my deepest gratitude for releasing the collaborative mixtape, T-Wayne. Originally promised years ago, us fans were twiddling our thumbs in anticipation of this drop, wondering if its release was more fable than realistic, much like Wayne’s mythical Tha Cater V. It was a longtime coming, but in typical fashion, you two delivered. Honestly though, I’m not surprised. For years, your delivery has been more consistent than UPS, and handled with better care than FedEx.
You’ve both made equally great, albeit highly different, contributions to my beloved genre. Your combined powers represent differing Hip Hop pillars that influence the genre’s current status, making you two musical trail blazers. You’ve forged disparate, distinct paths that reflect your keen musical foresight and artistry command. T-Pain, you ostensibly popularized auto-tune in Hip Hop—a prominent style employed by the overwhelming majority of today’s incoming rappers. Wayne, your legendary status has been perpetuated by a barrage of intelligent, hilarious analogies and metaphors, complemented by your staple hazy, guttural flow—another style co-opted by the bulk of today’s new artists. You’ve both worked hard to corner the Hip Hop market from opposing angles, but if 3rd grade science taught me anything, it’s that opposites attract.
T-Wayne is an eight-track dualistic representation of your talents. Sure, it reserves pockets for comfortable exploration of your predominant styles, evidenced by “Snap Ya Fangas” use of T’s smooth, auto-tuned flow and Weezy’s fundamental rapping onslaught. But what I find most intriguing and enjoyable about this project is your fearless voyage into each others disciplines. The tape’s opening track’s title, “He Rap He Sang,” cleverly tricks the listener by implying that the “he rap” part refers to Lil Tunechi, while “he sang” suggests T-Pain’s presence. However, being the intrepid artists that you both are, you bravely reverse roles, finding Weezy flirting with a singing aesthetic, and T-Pain careening towards an illustrious rap career. While Wayne’s auto-tune-enhanced singing is sonically pleasing, T, you steal the show by harboring legitimate rapping chops.
I remember watching your NPR Tiny Desk concert a few years ago, and being so pleasantly surprised. For your entire career, it seemed like you were hiding behind an auto-tuned mask to conceal vocal limitations out of necessity. But it turns out that you were simply adding a different texture to a naturally beautiful voice. When you strip away the auto-tune, your true talent shines. On “Listen to Me,” your organic voice delivers the confident rap, “I'm fishin' for some bitches to give me some Southern fixins / Fucked her good and when I finished, left her belly button glistenin'” in a quick yet controlled flow, demonstrating your lyrical aptitude, and begging for increased incorporation of this style into your music. Seeing how you and Wayne are musical vampires unaffected by time’s passing, hopefully you will continue to experiment with alternative styles and embody periodic trends.
Since this tape was originally promised almost a decade ago, late 2000s musical fingerprints cover the project. “Waste Of A Wasp” is the perfect nostalgic microcosm, demonstrated by its lyrical and wordplay emphasis, like T’s bars, “I'm tryna fuck you in the kitchen, let me butter you up / Where’s my manners? / Which one you like? Butter or syrup? / Let me show you what your Miss Butter is Worth,” to time period-specific references, such as Wayne’s lines, “'Cause I promise in the Sidekick you got your own folder / If you keep fuckin' with me, you gon' get your own chauffeur,” all the way to the Tha Bizness production. It’s a refreshing break from today’s new wave tsunami, and pays homage to a sentimental Hip Hop era.
T-Wayne aptly represents the powerful effect achieved from dominating musical figures collaborating, trading styles, and having fun. While the project is certainly great, you two don’t seem to be taking yourselves terribly seriously, which results in a more fluid, amusing product. I’m sure that there is an inordinate amount of other joint-work saved on hard drives somewhere, but we’ll take what we can get. And what you gave us is pretty fantastic. Now if we can just receive Tha Carter V…
Thank you very much for this surprise drop, T-Pain and Weezy—it’s greatly appreciated.
All the best,