T-Pain makes triumphant return to Baltimore stage

By NIKITA SHTARKMAN | March 28, 2019

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Will Folsom/cc by-sa 2.0 T-Pain returned to Baltimore after 17 years with old hits and newer songs.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: T-Pain is back and in a big way. After his victory on The Masked Singer and the release of 1UP, his latest project, T-Pain has ventured on a national tour. The very first show of the tour was held last Wednesday at Rams Head Live!, and I, an intrepid News-Letter reporter, was lucky enough to go.

Many artists find it difficult to fill their shows with music that will move a crowd; most don’t have a single song that will get people hype. Some will save their best, most popular songs for the end, and a very rare set of artists have enough hits to fill a full set. T-Pain is one of those artists. From the time he hopped on stage to the moment he walked off — the whole hour and 15 minutes — T-Pain was performing absolutely timeless bangers. 

The show was an exhibition, a victory lap. It is easy to forget how much of a juggernaut T-Pain was (and continues to be) in popular music. He has a wide ranging, deep repertoire, which ranges from personal tunes to songs he was featured on.

For this show T-Pain pulled out every knick-knack in his bag of tricks. He did his classics — songs you might remember from those sweaty, grimy school dances where lanky preteens hyped up on energy drinks grinded on each other — “Bartender,” “Buy U A Drank” and “I’m Sprung.” He also did the more recent bops, including “Look at Me,” a slapper that should have been bigger when it came out; the “Panda T-Mix,” which is undeniably the best remix to Desiigner’s viral song; and his newest single, “Getcha Roll On.” 

To my surprise (and delight) he even delved into his biggest features. He performed the hell out of “Good Life,” a Kanye track that never fails to make you feel like the king of the world, and “Welcome to My Hood,” a DJ Khaled cut that rattled speakers and cars across America in the early 2000s.

Listening to all of those songs in quick succession only serves to remind you how significant T-Pain is to popular music. The man has a ridiculous skill in making catchy, tight, melodic songs, complete with fun lyrics and great hooks.

Besides being a masterful songwriter, T-Pain is also a fantastic performer, and he should be respected as such. 

The first thing you’ll notice at a T-Pain concert is his voice. It is powerful, dynamic and clear. Many singers rely on backing tracks to pick up their slack while they’re performing; T-Pain didn’t need one. He was effortlessly belting out the classic hooks and verses. He went from doing the vocal runs on “Bartender” to speed-rapping every word to his “Panda” remix with absolute ease. 

The best showcase for his voice though, was an unexpected cover of “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith. This was the song that led him to his victory on The Masked Singer. The performance on the show was great, but it was otherworldly to hear in person. T-Pain, the goofy, fun-loving rapper-turned-singer, let his voice transform into that of a gospel artist, belting out long, rich and sweet notes. For a few short moments, the atmosphere was religious in Rams Head. The crowd was captivated (I heard a few overpriced drinks hit the floor).

Did you guys know T-Pain could dance? I did, and even still, I was shocked by his moves. Popping and locking in between long vocal runs, bounding across the stage and never losing his breath, doing the shoot mid-verse and then continuing to rap — it was an impressive display. If we hail Chris Brown as a multitalented superstar, we should have that same title apply to T-Pain. 

You could tell that the crowd was captivated from the very start. T-Pain had everybody’s attention throughout the hour and 15 that he was on stage — the only exception was a group of four girls next to me, who spent most of the night dealing with text drama and Snapchatting random songs from the show. 

After the concert ended, I realized that what I had experienced was rare and fantastic. Loaded to the brim with talent and a bubbly personality to match, Tallahassee Pain had returned to leave his mark across America. Few concerts are as happy, fun and impressive. This was his first time back in Baltimore in over seven years, and I can easily say that it was a major success. I hope he comes back soon.

If you’re looking for a fantastic show driven by one of the mainstays of popular music, one of the best pop songwriters of the past decade and one of the best performers I’ve seen in recent years, go see T-Pain as soon as you can. It is a certified blast — a genuine party. You’ll be sure to leave with a smile on your face and a set of great memories.

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