To vocoder or not to vocoder, that is the question!
Elle J Small 2008
To vocoder or not to vocoder, that is the question. Whether this vocal sound effect (reminiscent of a chipmunk) bugs the hell out of you or not, someone out there must love it or else Florida's T-Pain wouldn't be a platinum-selling act. Any artist that sells millions of records in the current climate should be applauded but if you're not under 14 years of age, can you really appreciate T-Pain's gimmicky sound?
Strangely, after you've listened to T-Pain a trillion odd times, you start to believe his voice naturally sounds like a pimp from planet mars. Once you've managed to get over the warped vocal, you might even start to enjoy this all-singing, all-dancing artist. For T-Pain is every A&R person's wet dream. Like the illegitimate lovechild of Cee-Lo (one half of Gnarls Barkley) and Akon, Faheem Rasheed Najm (T-Pain's real name) writes, sings and produces his own music. Plus he knows how to put on a good show, and Thr33 Ringz (his third album) is exactly that. Even the artwork depicts T-Pain dressed up as a circus ringleader.
Musically, the vibe is pop-infested modern-day R&B, with notables like Kanye West, Mary J Blige and Lil Wayne all guesting. Opener, Ringleader Man, sets the tone with its laidback pace, contagious melodies and sing-a-long quality. Leading quickly into the simplistic Chopped N Skrewed (featuring Ludacris), the flavour becomes more kiddy-friendly as the album progresses. Teen favourties like Chris Brown and Ciara pop up to make T-Pain even more bankable, while Kanye West appears on Therapy to add some kudos to hilarious lines like ''5, 6, 7, 8/ I don't need your sex, I’ll masturbate''.
Basically, if you love modern-day R&B, you're going to love this album, if not, then move away now.