T-Pain Recaps His Crazy Year: Kanye West, R. Kelly Among His Fave ’07 Collaborators

R&B singer first recorded 'I'm a Flirt' verse in an airport bathroom, cleaned up 'Kiss Kiss' for Chris Brown's young fans.

He’s been named MTV News’ Top R&B Act of 2007. . He’s nominated for five Grammy Awards. And nowadays his phone rings more than Paris Hilton’s on a Friday night.

The past 365 days have definitely been good to T-Pain.

He started the year riding shotgun with Bow Wow on the teen titan’s tear-jerker “Outta My System.” Since then he’s bulked up his guest-appearance résumé, becoming the go-to guy for a host of artists ranging from upstart Plies to established vets like Kanye West and R. Kelly. To add to his list of accomplishments, his sophomore album, Epiphany, featured one of the biggest hits of ’07 with “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’).”

Teddy P. agreed to deliver one last assist before the year is up: The Florida singer gave MTV News the back story to seven of his best collabos of 2007.

Bow Wow, “Outta My System”
“That was actually my first real, super-huge feature,” T-Pain said. “So that was more amazing to me than anything. I was more amazed to see Jermaine Dupri … I was seeing him for only the second time in my life, so that was pretty good. That was before I started doing ‘Buy U a Drank’ and [DJ Khaled's] ‘I’m So Hood.’ I was still on some girl topics. … It was pretty much, ‘I got to do this for the ladies.’ I was real specific with my music [at that point].”

R. Kelly, “I’m a Flirt”
“His people called me and they told me they e-mailed me something,” he said. “And they asked if I could do a verse to it, it’d be great, but we need it back by 4 o’clock, the same day. Not only the same day, but it was already 3 o’clock. I was in the airport about to go to Atlanta from Tallahassee [Florida]. I actually had to write the verse on my computer. I went into the bathroom of the airport and used the microphone that’s built into my Mac and recorded the song on that. Then sent that to them. That was just the verse, so I could get that to them [and finish the mastered version when I got to the studio in Atlanta]. They told me a lot of people tried to put verses on the song, but only me and T.I. could come through.”

Plies, “Shawty”
“I’mma be honest,” he revealed. “Even though we both from [Florida], I didn’t know who he was. I had to ask around. And my label was like, ‘Whoa, just don’t give away that song. Don’t do it.’ [He laughs.]”

DJ Khaled, “I’m So Hood”
“He’s a busy guy,” T-Pain said, laughing. “He brought me the Runners’ beat and he played it, and I was like, ‘That’s crazy.’ And all he had to say is ‘Pain, I need something that’s so ‘hood. Something super ‘hood.’ He kept saying ‘hood, ‘hood, ‘hood — and he left. I don’t know where he went. He was gone for three hours. I did the hook in 15 minutes and I was waiting for him. That was the day I did [DJ Unk's] ’2 Step’ remix. Since he was gone, I was like, ‘Lemme find something else to do.’ ”

Kanye West, “Good Life”
“All I recorded for that song was hooks,” T-Pain said. “We did five different versions [of the chorus]. And when you hear that [sings] ‘And my grandmamma ain’t the only [girl] calling me baby,’ that was a hook. Kanye put all them hooks together and created that song. When I heard the finished version, I was like, ‘This dude is a genius.’ ”

Chris Brown, “Kiss Kiss”
“That song was originally for David Banner,” he revealed. “I made that with him in mind, but Chris was in the studio with me and asked for some hip-hop beats. He heard it and asked for it. That song was originally called ‘Thick Thick.’ [He sings.] ‘That booty, girl, is thick, thick, thick.’ But then I remembered Chris Brown is like 12, and we changed it up.”

Fabolous, “Baby Don’t Go”
“That already had the hook on it, actually,” T-Pain said. “[I just had to] put my little part on it. I actually respect [Jermaine Dupri] for that, because the song required Auto-Tune, and he was just like, ‘I don’t want to just use it. I’d rather have the person that’s famous for it right now.’ Because anyone can just use it, as you see everybody is doing that right now. But he was like, ‘I could have just used it, but that would have been disrespectful to somebody that’s bringing it back.’ I respect him for that, completely.”