By Aleia Gooding
“Um, Hello? 2009, is that you?” The King of Pop is gone. Jay-Z just released The Blueprint III. Oh, and Kanye West just grabbed the microphone from Taylor Swift amid her acceptance speech at the MTV VMA Awards. What a year to be alive and more importantly, what a year to release a collaborative mixtape at the height of your and your co-artists’ careers.
T-Wayne is a two-step right into hip-hop’s past, but make no mistake about it. The streets are listening and for both T-Pain and Lil Wayne fans respectively, this was a fantastic surprise gift. This is not the only collaboration from these two artists though. On December 30, 2008 The T-Wayne Show, another mixtape which boasted bangers like, “Got Money” and “Can’t Believe It”, was released to the world. Fans were eagerly anticipating the next T-Wayne project but were left with disappointment and continuing rumors for most of the next decade. The current collection of songs, just released today, appears to be the leftovers of musical genius left scattered on the studio floor. Actually, according to T-Pain in a recent Twitter post “This ain’t for y’all new n*****. These the lost files from ’09 and I’m tired of em just sittin on my hard drive. #FreeC”. Whatever the reason, can we all agree that we’re glad he finally decided to do it?
There are only 9 tracks here and the totality of it feels more like a tease-and-run than a solid project, but to be fair, it hits just as heavy. There are 9 different tracks, all heavily ladened with that N’awlins & Tallahassee lingo we’ve come to love from both stars.
Track 1, “He Rap He Sang” starts out giving us a glimpse into what we’re about to experience by reminding us all of the multiple talents of these two musical mavens. “Listen to Me” is a Willy Wonka-sampled beat that gives me a “6 Foot 7 Foot” (Lil Wayne, 2011) vibe but with the rawness of T-Pain’s tongue-in-cheek one-liners. I found myself doing the Bankhead Bounce to “Damn, Damn, Damn”, an auto-tuned ballad about both men’s ability to make a woman say…well…”damn.” I imagined myself cruising down Ocean Drive with the sunroof back listening to the guitar bass-infused “Waist of a Wasp”. “Oh Yeah” is only 1 minute, 9 seconds but that’s all that’s needed for T-Pain to check in with a quick 1-2 jab before continuing on. Was it me or did “Breathe” sound just like Nicki Minaj’s 2010 “Did it on ‘Em” from her multi platinum selling album, Pink Friday? That’s probably because popular music producer Bangladesh was responsible for that beat and he contributed to the T-Wayne Mixtape as well. Somebody called dibs! Aside from the dope beat, Lil Wayne drops the classic Kanye West album name 808’s & Heartbreak. There’s no punch line there. It just made me smile. “Snap Ya Fangas” is the spotlight song for T-Pain’s unique r&b/hip-hop style. Wayne makes a brief appearance to let us know he’s there too, but T-Pain certainly stole that show, even channeling the late r&b princess herself, Aaliyah (Back & Forth, 1994). My favorite track has got to be “Heavy Chevy.” T-Wayne ends this fantastic collage of 09’ cuts with this chopped & screwed, bass-boomin’, Tallahassee groove. I can imagine that the summer of 09’ would’ve been that much better.
What does this mean for T-Pain & Lil Wayne collectively? It’s hard to say. It took us nearly 10 years to get this, so no one is holding their breath for the album or even the tour, but then again, stranger things have happened. Either way, thank you T-Pain for giving us all a treat as we take a break from 2017 with all that we’re used to and bob our heads to the exemplary musical magic that is T-Wayne.