The Grammy-winning performer T-Pain has made big hits, like "Bartender" and "Blame It (On The Alcohol)." But he's best known for helping to popularize a vocal processing technology called Auto-Tune. "It turned into a full genre of music," he said. "It's everywhere. It's in cartoons, commercials. It's everywhere."
Some people hated the effect. But for T-Pain, who was born Faheem Rasheed Najm in northern Florida, Auto-Tune meant freedom.
"I've always wanted to sing from the beginning. But in Tallahassee, you were seen as soft, or you were seen as not a man."
As fans of the celebrity singing competition "The Masked Singer" already know, T-Pain – even dressed as a fuzzy cyclops – can actually sing.
"Sunday Morning" contributor Kelefa Sanneh asked, "Were you obsessed with music as a kid?"
"I was obsessed with the idea that music made my dad happy," he replied. "One day an Army commercial came on. And I harmonized with it. And he was like, 'How'd you know how to do that?' And ever since I saw his eyes light up from that.
"That's all I been doing, is just trying to find new ways to impress my dad!" he laughed.
His latest effort is a book about cocktails: "Can I Mix You a Drink? 50 Cocktails From My Life & Career" (Kingston Imperial).
T-Pain said, "I know when I'm the most happy, is when I'm drinking. Let's do that! Let's just do a drink book!"
Sanneh asked, "How does a book release compare to an album release?"
"It is different. It is so different. I remember going to Barnes & Noble as a kid and just never thinking that, 'I'm gonna have a book in here one day.' That's not a realistic dream of mine. But, you know, book signings, like, I never do, like, album signings."
"You mention that when you're drinking, you don't like listening to hip-hop or R&B?"
"I don't. I'd rather no lyrics."
"So, you want people to open up this T-Pain book, maybe turn off the T-Pain music, put on some smooth piano music or something, enjoy one of your cocktails?"
"Boom! Jazz is the best for this entire book," he said.
The book, written with mixologist Maxwell Britten, contains recipes that are complicated. Take the drink called "Soul on Fire," which requires making cinnamon syrup, which is a 48 hour-long process that requires routine stirring.
"This is a big project," Sanneh said.
"Yeah. You gotta really want these drinks, man!" T-Pain laughed.
The performer, now in the role of bartender, made for Sanneh a drink called "5 O'Clock." It's named after one of T-Pain's hit singles.
"This involves ice cream," he said. "Are you a fan of beer?"
"I'm a big fan of beer. I'll be honest with you. I usually consume beer and ice cream separately."
"Nope. We're gonna do it all together."
Add to the beer and ice cream some bourbon and a cinnamon schnapps, called Goldschläger ...
"This looks like a science experiment," said Sanneh.
"It kinda is, man."
... and you'll have a "5 O'Clock" the way T-Pain likes it.
"This whole drink is just an excuse for the ice cream," he said. "It is a grown-up milkshake!"
The recipe calls for toppings, at least according to his book.
"You supposed to top this off with whipped cream," T-Pain said. "I freakin' hate whipped cream."
"I'll take a little bit of whipped cream," said Sanneh.
"I have some gold flake here for you!"
Sanneh sampled the "5 O'Clock": "It's kind of a brown sugar thing. The roastiness of the stout, it's mixing with some of the cinnamon flavor from the Goldschläger, get the richness from the ice cream."
Beer and ice cream, together at last.
For more info:
- "Can I Mix You a Drink? 50 Cocktails From My Life & Career" by T-Pain with Maxwell Britten, curated by Kathy Iandoli (Kingston Imperial), in Hardcover and eBook formats, available via Amazon and Indiebound
- nappyboyent.com (T-Pain's official site)
- Thanks to Jimmy, 15 Thompson Street, New York City
Story produced by Mary Raffalli. Editor: Lauren Barnello.
Check out the "Sunday Morning" 2021 Food Issue Recipe Index for more menu suggestions, from all of the chefs, cookbook authors, flood writers and restaurateurs featured on our program, as well as the writers and editors of New York Times Cooking.
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