T-Pain’s Akon-Approved ‘Hard R&B’ Calms His Fear Of Sounding Soft

Rapper-turned-singer's Rappa Ternt Sanga dropped earlier this month.

Twenty-year-old singer T-Pain calls his brand of R&B “Hard & B.” Although his song “I’m Sprung” isn’t exactly the most rugged rhythm-and-blues tune ever — the record is about falling victim to a woman’s whip appeal — it’s become a hit nonetheless.

“I had a R&B song in my head and I recorded it,” Pain said about his transition from rapper to singer a little over a year ago. A native of Tallahassee, Florida, Pain used to rap in a local group called the Nappy Headz. “Then I recorded another one and another one. Then I had an album. The right person heard the album. I played around with singing, then it got serious.”

That person was Akon’s brother; Pain signed to Akon’s Konvict Music about a year ago.

“He always helps me,” Pain said about Akon. “Even when he knows I know what I’m doing, he still coaches me.”

Pain didn’t need much coaching for “I’m Sprung,” which is about his wife of two years.

“I never thought anybody would like what I’m doing,” Pain — who has a remix of “I’m Sprung” on the mixtapes with the likes of Stat Quo, Pitbull and Trick Daddy — marveled about his record’s success. “I started making songs for my personal pleasure. If I was listening to it in my car and somebody got in my car, I would take the CD out of my stereo and put it in under my seat. I didn’t want anybody hearing my stuff. I thought people would laugh and think I was soft.”

Although Pain says most of his recently released debut, Rappa Ternt Sanga, was culled from real-life experiences, he insists his next single, “I’m N Luv (Wit a Stripper),” was not written from his own perspective.

“That wasn’t about me,” he laughed. “I took my homeboy to his first strip club. It was a girl in there, he really liked her. I dropped a little money on her and told her, ‘Go talk to my homeboy. Take your clothes off and dance for him.’ He still talks about her today.”