T-Pain brought all of the hits to Charlotte for what felt like a big outdoor party at Skyla Credit Union Amphitheatre

By Cameron Lee

June 27, 2024

It’s been 15 years since Jay-Z released his song “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)” and, while he has said that it wasn’t a direct shot at T-Pain, who popularized its use in the early aughts, the track has affected the latter’s career. “I was the face of Auto-Tune,” T-Pain said in a 2021 interview with Drink Champs, “so when you say Auto-Tune is wack, I’m the face.” 

Whether or not you’re a fan of the recording method, both Auto-Tune and T-Pain are still alive and well, and it was evident Wednesday night in Charlotte at a sold-out Skyla Credit Union Amphitheatre. 

Following entertaining performances by Vallejo, California independent rapper LaRussell, and T-Pain’s Nappy Boy Entertainment artists NandoSTL and Young Cash, T-Pain stepped onto the stage right at 9:30 p.m. Donning a multicolored suit and a top hat– a signature look from his early career– the 39-year-old rapper, singer and producer was accompanied by DJ Montay, who was inside a massive LED backdrop that spanned the stage’s width. The crowd, which was diverse both in age and ethnicities, was primed for an evening of T-Pain’s nostalgic hits that date back to his debut studio album, Rappa Ternt Sanga, and his first big single, “I’m Sprung.”

Kicking off the evening with his 2009 collab with Rick Ross, “Maybach Music 2,” and then 2013’s “Up Down (Do This All Day),” T-Pain set the tone for a night that truly felt like a massive outdoor picnic. After a quick wardrobe change early in his set and fireworks exploding on the LED screens behind him, the crowd erupted for “Good Life,” the 2007 party anthem from Kanye West’s Graduation. With 5,000-plus hands waving in the air and singing along to the uplifting chorus, the millennial-dominated crowd was transported back to the late 2000s as he transitioned into 2008’s Lil Wayne collab, “Got Money.” 

Bringing it back to his first R&B hit in 2005, “I’m Sprung,” the track that catapulted his career, a full sing-along ensued for the heartfelt song penned for his wife, Amber. Switching the tempo to “Bartender,” he then flipped the track with the second verse accompanied by the beat from Lil Jon and Ying Yang Twin’s Southern crunk classic, “Get Low.” 

Taking a break from the party, T-Pain spent a few minutes detailing his career decision back in 2018 to move on from his management team and label to fully focus on his own company, Nappy Boy Entertainment. A moment reflecting on his own journey and showing appreciation to the fans.

“I decided that I didn’t want a manager anymore, I didn’t want to be on a label anymore, so in 2018, I went fully independent,” he said, sitting on the stage with a single spotlight on him. “I appreciate y’all sticking with me through this crazy ass journey, because this shit has been wild.” 

He also expressed that one of the joys of going independent was putting on up-and-coming artists; he brought back Young Cash, who he recently collaborated with on the album, The Bluez Brothaz

Throughout the night, T-Pain showcased his vocal chops without the Auto-Tune, while relying on the female-dominated audience to sing the big hooks. He also took some time to perform covers of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey,” and Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me,” and joked with the audience about being tired and cranky, before jumping into the 2008 megahit “Low,” seemingly rejuvenated by the fervent crowd. He used that momentum to perform an extended version of “Buy U a Drank,” the 2007 single from his second studio album, Epiphany

T-Pain finished the night celebrating with all of the artists (LaRussell, NandoSTL, and Young Cash) on the tour with a triumphant “All I Do Is Win.” The hit featured a freestyled verse at the end of the song before he bid adieu to the adoring fans. Gyrating and flexing his quirky dance moves throughout his 70-plus-minute set, it was evident that the hitmaker felt the love reciprocated by the capacity crowd. 

T-Pain’s journey in music has had its peaks and valleys, and he has been open about his hiatus following the backlash of his Auto-Tune style, a practice that revolutionized modern hip-hop and R&B– for better or for worse. There are a few things that T-Pain has proved throughout his 20-plus-year career: you can battle back from harsh criticism and still know how to rock a party. His prolific catalog of over 50 Billboard hits won’t be dead anytime soon, and his stop in Charlotte was a true celebration of his impact on hip-hop and R&B. 


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