T-Pain: ‘I did a lot of pranks – at airports, everywhere’

How is your book doing?

It’s been killing it on Amazon since it came out in February. It’s been hovering around No 50 to 60. I don’t know if Amazon will have room for it, but I just try to write it as I hear the music and have an appreciation for the past.

Who’s your favourite writer?

I love John Steinbeck, but sometimes I’ll borrow stuff from others, like Monty Python. I’m a huge fan of Shakespeare and Richard III.

What’s been your most memorable tour?

It was at the James Brown Theatre in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was inspiring and it put a lot of work into getting to the venue. If we didn’t manage to score that show, I wouldn’t have had it as an experience. I definitely had it in Florida.

You do your trademark pranks during a show. Who gave you the idea?

I just did it in the middle of Florida, but if I was up in LA I’d have to do it after the show. That would keep my brother Gucci Gucci busy. I just made up fake stunts to see what the crowd would think. The best prank for me was when I got dressed in different outfits. I mean, that’s a one-off if somebody has not seen it before.

Do people still recognise you?

When I walk into a room everyone wants to know about Bumper Boy. When I go into stores they want to talk about Bumper Boy. When I go to airports now they’re like, “Are you that Bumper Boy?” A lot of people have said something that was really sweet to me.

Are you surprised that it’s had such an impact?

I didn’t even know how many people downloaded it. And some people were really nice enough to send it to me on a fake street address so I could email them and show them a little scratch it out, and they were very excited.

There’s the myth that you avoided Bumper Boy for 10 years. What’s the truth?

That is not true. But I did tell them, “I hope you don’t believe it when I said I was gonna do that album,” and they said, “You were only saying that because people thought you was being greedy”. So that’s true. But I was actually coming out of the funk. So it was just being a patient, caring musicman to wait for the time to come.

How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?

If I had to say something through a hundred different means I’d probably just say I created a time machine. I was able to go back in time to tell myself the stories that I wanted to tell.

Do you expect the pendulum to swing back in favour of traditional R&B?

No doubt. I don’t know, if anyone tells you another direction is not working, you can counter that and say, “You don’t know what’s going on in music.” When I think of SZA, SZA is running all the way to the top, then Cardi, then Cardi. The cool thing about modern R&B and pop music is that we all have our role to play.

• T-Pain: Going Gon Pray: The Autobiography by T-Pain is published by HarperTeen (£14.99). To order a copy for £11.89, go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99

Leave a Comment