All he does is win.
Hip hop star T-Pain, known for his distinctive use of Auto-Tune in his many hit songs, showed the world just how talented of a vocalist he is when he won the first season of Fox’s wildly popular competition series “The Masked Singer” last month.
“That was my, for lack of better terms, ‘F–k you, everybody (moment),’ ” T-Pain, 33, told the Daily News with a laugh. “I have people that just been doubting me my whole career and things like that because I’ve put some different aesthetic on my vocals than everybody else. It just turned out to be a great opportunity to really show another side of me, and kind of gave me a second coming.”
The series centers on a dozen celebrities — each dressed in costume to keep their identities concealed — singing their hearts out to avoid being eliminated every week. T-Pain, who suited up as a one-eyed monster, defeated Gladys Knight, La Toya Jackson, Joey Fatone and more before being unveiled as the champion.
It’s one of many recent victories for the Florida-born artist. T-Pain — real name Faheem Rasheed Najm — also released an album, “1Up,” on Feb. 27 that soared to the top of the iTunes hip hop chart, and he’s set to host the iHeartRadio Music Awards on Thursday night.
It all adds up to the artist feeling like he’s in the midst of a resurgence in the spotlight.
“A little bit,” T-Pain told The News. “I love it and I hate it. It’s awesome being recognized and all that stuff, but the amount of work that comes with it, I forgot about that. … It feels good to be in the spotlight again. You got the naysayers, and people saying this is only going to last a couple weeks, and it has been a couple weeks, and here we are talking again. I love it, man. I love it to death. I love proving people wrong.”
The success of “1Up” has been particularly sweet for T-Pain considering it’s the type of album he’s wanted to make for a while.
He says he’s been restricted in the past while working with bigger labels, but had a much different experience making this album with the Cinematic Music Group, which he signed on with in 2016.
“I didn’t have to think. That was the thing. I didn’t have to make a certain kind of music. I just made music,” T-Pain said. “Things that were already in my head and in my heart, and not having to go in and make sure I’ve (used) the latest words or, ‘Make it hip. Make it sound young.’ You know, anything that a label would tell you to do. I just got to get in the studio and make music that was in my heart, and it came out great.”
T-Pain is set to go on tour in support of the album later this month — including a stop at the PlayStation Theater in New York on March 22 — and he promises to bring major energy to his shows.
Before then, though, he’ll take the stage at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles for the iHeartRadio Music Awards, Thursday at 8 p.m. on Fox.
“I’m going to try to not offend anybody, that’s rule number one,” T-Pain said of his approach as host. “I like to have fun, man. I’m definitely going off script a couple times because the corniness of those award shows are the devil. I like to have fun. I’m going to keep it within the boundaries, and make sure I push them, but keep it within.”
T-Pain rose to fame in the mid-2000s with a string of major hits including “Buy U a Drank” and “Bartender.”
He turned to his signature use of Auto-Tune to digitally alter his voice, he explains, as a way of standing out early on.
“I just wanted to be different,” T-Pain said. “If I would’ve came in the game just using my voice, I just would’ve been another singer. So I felt like it was a smart move to just separate myself from everybody else. It would’ve been just another natural voice singer, just doing his thing. We have 1,000 of these already, so what’s going to make you special? And then I found Auto-Tune, and here we are.”
T-Pain admits he didn’t initially expect “The Masked Singer” to captivate viewers the way it did, but he was drawn to the costume and ultimately signed on to compete.
“When they pitched the show to me, I was like, ‘This is the stupidest f–king thing I’ve ever heard in my life,’ ” he said with a laugh. “But they convinced me to do it. … I guess it’s the sense of mystery and the sense of accomplishment when you do find out that you guessed right (that make the show popular).”