24 | MUSICIAN / PRODUCER

Whoever moaned that the 21st century wouldn't have its own Hitsville USA or Brill Building never envisioned the hit-making prowess of one man—T-Pain—and his trusted Auto-Tune. The rapper/producer's collaborations with Kanye West, Lil Wayne, T.I., and Chris Brown, among others, have yielded six No. 1 and 30 top-10 singles—with the help of a computer device developed to correct imperfect pitch. T-Pain has deftly used Auto-Tune to create a signature vocal-bending electronic warble that's become synonymous with success. "It's a benchmark in the game. I brought Auto-Tune back," says T-Pain, who was born Faheem Rashad Najm in Tallahassee, Florida. The key is his ability to adapt the tool, and himself, to the project at hand. "I don't just do my own thing—if I get on a Busta Rhymes song, I'm going to change my style to Busta's," he says. "Whenever I hear other people's guest appearances, they sound just like themselves. That's boring." And while T-Pain wants to spread his sound, going so far as to create an Auto-Tune iPhone application, he's also intent on taking what's rightfully his back from the rip-off artists. "It has become a blessing and a curse," he says. "But no one can do it like the originator, so I might as well just keep fucking doing it."

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