On Tuesday, “Buy U A Drank” singer T-Pain found himself the topic of the Twitter streets after a clip from the new Netflix series This Is Pop went viral.
According to Entertainment Weekly, This Is Pop is an eight-part series that “explores untold stories from some of the biggest moments in pop music history.” In the particular snippet, a visibly uncomfortable T-Pain begins to recount a conversation he had with Usher on a flight in 2013 on their way to the BET Awards.
“I heard a story about you and Usher on an airplane…” the interviewer begins, this particular episode centering around the rise of autotune in the music industry. After taking a deep breath, T-Pain delves into his story. He explains that a flight attendant woke him up out of his sleep and told him that Usher wanted to speak with him.
“So I got up and went back. He was like ‘oh, how’s everything going?’ Quick small talk, no big deal. And he was like, ‘Man, I wanna tell you something.’ I thought he was about to tell me something real—he sounded real concerned,” T-Pain began. “Then he was like ‘man, you kinda fucked up music.’ I didn’t understand.”
He continued, “Usher was my friend. He was like, ‘nah man you really fucked up music for real singers. Literally at that point, I couldn’t listen. Is he right? Did I fuck up music? And that is the very moment—I don’t think I realized it for a long time—that’s the very moment that started a four year depression for me.”
Many were quick to side with T-Pain, some folks crying hypocrisy citing the 2010, autotune Usher and Will.i.am (The Blackeyed Peas) song “OMG.” Others noted this is just another example of people being ahead of their time and getting flack for doing something different.
I would like to reiterate, as one of the aforementioned tweets said, T-Pain was not the first to use autotune or voice distortion. Roger Troutman arguably did it first with his talk box-heavy singles, “I Wanna Be Your Man” and “Computer Love.” (Both of which were very successful songs, much like all of T-Pain’s autotune hits.)
In addition to T-Pain, This Is Pop features appearances and interviews with some of the biggest musical influences around including but not limited to Boyz II Men, Kenny “BabyFace” Edmonds, Childish Gambino, Public Enemy, and Lil Nas X. All eight episodes are available to stream now on Netflix.