On the Road with T-Pain, Who Is Tired of Signing Your Baby’s Diaper

I’m not trying to do these partnerships where it’s like, Look what we got a rapper to do! I’m trying to be a part of the company. Having something that I actually like is very, very important. I’m always drinking White Claw—it’s a natural partnership.

It was already on the rider?

Already on there, and it’s still there. The only problem I have on the road is people getting the wrong variety pack. I’ll drink any of them, but peach is the one. If you get me a peach, we’re going to have a good day. Strawberry is a close second.

You’ve been on the scene for a while now. What do you remember about your first tour?

It was 2006. Chris Brown was the headliner and I was the opening act. I just remember not knowing what the hell I was doing. I had a wardrobe change in the middle of my show, and I didn’t know where my wardrobe was! The one thing I remember was, on the first night, the wardrobe was backstage and I didn’t know. I ran all the way to my dressing room and tried to run back to the stage before the next song started. I didn’t make it because I didn’t know the process at all. That’s one of the core memories from my first tour. Ooh, that was rough as hell. I was doing a panic run back to my wardrobe. Other than that? Pretty smooth.

Having a wardrobe change—as the opening act, on your very first tour—is hilarious. I respect that level of ambition.

Well, I came out in a marching band uniform. I couldn’t perform in that the entire time. It was brutal.

Is this the top hat era?

I wasn’t doing the top hat yet. But I did have a marching band hat with the chinstrap and the feather on the top. It’s something I couldn’t do a full show in. I had to do a wardrobe change.

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T-Pain riding an elephant at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards.

Steve Granitz

How long did it take you to figure out touring and find your groove?

I mean, I’m still figuring it out now. It’s ever-changing. It’s not something you actually figure out, it’s something that, as an artist, you always try to conform to the crowd with. Once you think you have it figured out, that’s when you get boring. If you keep doing the same show over and over again, what is life? What is the tour? It’s boring as hell. If you don’t have anything different from the last tour, why am I coming to the next one?

Does tour get disorienting? As far as like, what day of the week it is or what city you’re in.

I have no idea where I am right now. [laughing]

That seems like the standard.

I think it’d be more acceptable if it was drug-induced and shit like that. But, no, it’s not. I’ll be honest. I just can’t keep up! I wish this was because of drugs. There’s so much confusion and so many different things. I just keep saying yes to everything. Yeah, I can squeeze this in. Where am I at? Whose house is this?

What’s your plan for this summer?

I’m on tour right now, right this second. This is the middle of tour. It’s been fun. I’m having a pretty good time—fully independent, able to go out and do what I actually want to do, it’s not a label or management control thing. It’s all just me.

If there’s people you know in a certain city, are you trying to see them, or would you rather be left alone while you’re on tour?

Yeah, I throw my own festival, Wiscansin Fest. That was a pretty cool thing. All my fans from Twitch got together and rented out an actual mansion in Wiscansin. I was there with all my fans, just chilling. It wasn’t like going to meet fans, it was like going to hang with friends! I do get to hang out with people that actually fuck with me.

These are strangers from Twitch?

Strangers in a physical sense, yeah. I met a lot of them for the first time. These are people that are always on my Twitch. They call themselves T-Painiacs. They’re fans that I see on Twitch all the time, but in a physical sense I have not met a lot of them. This was a big gathering of them.

When did you feel like it all changed for you? When did traveling and going out in public start to come with a bunch of fanfare? Right around “Buy U A Drank” I presume?

It was a little bit before that, kind of the “I’m N Luv (Wit a Stripper)” era. That’s when things started getting real bothersome. It wasn’t bothersome. It was just, What’s the big deal? I’m one of those people that’s like, Why do you think I’m important?

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