Kanye West‘s 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak may not be the most loved release of his career, but it’s probably the most important. By dropping that sharp left turn at the height of his stardom, West freed himself to do whatever he wanted in its wake. After that, no sonic element was off limits for his palette, and thus the palette of hip-hop. And now, more than five years after its release, T-Pain has revealed that he thinks he didn’t get enough credit for influencing that landmark LP.
In a recent interview with DJ Vlad, the rap crooner revealed that he worked for 10 days on 808s in Hawaii, and relayed a conversation he had with Ye at the time, basically claiming Ye all but credited him for the concept of the album. “[Kanye] said ‘I listened to your album Rappa Ternt Sanga. I heard all the songs. I fuckin’ love your album Rappa Ternt Sanga. I think you a genius,’” T-Pain told Vlad TV. “He said, ‘But what I figured out that Rappa Ternt Sanga is just a bunch of love songs with a shitload of bass in ‘em.’ And I’m like ‘Well, love songs is like heartbreaks and the shitload of bass is the 808s. So, you calling your album 808s & Heartbreak because you making a bunch of love songs with a shitload of bass in ‘em?’ And he basically was like ‘Yeah, pretty much.’”
T-Pain went on to explain why he’s a little bitter about the lack of recognition. “The praise that he got from it was like ‘Oh my God, this is so creative. This is the new shit. This is the shit,’” he said. “And I’m like ‘Well, what happened in 2005 when I dropped Rappa Ternt Sanga and it was the same album? That’s kind of weird.’ You know what I’m saying. It just felt like I was unappreciated.”
While it’s a stretch to call RTS and 808s “the same album,” T-Pain has a point. If Ye really had a conversation with him about this particular sonic framework and even the title, yet T-Pain’s lone mention on 808s was a co-writing credit on “Robocop,” well that’s a bit problematic. For reference, back in 2008 before the album dropped, Pain explained his role thusly: “As far as ‘Love Lockdown’ goes, [Kanye] did that whole thing himself. He just had me in mind. 808s is really all Kanye. I’m just here to keep it from [sounding] adult contemporary.”
Kanye had mentioned T-Pain’s influence in interviews throughout 2008, but there’s an argument to be made that he should’ve gotten more love, since he’s been a major influence in the past decade. Not just with Kanye, but also artists like Drake, Future and Kid Cudi. Hell, his Auto-Tune work was why everyone assumed an Auto-Tuned Ye album would suck. But maybe citing him as an influence in Auto-Tune rap is a given — like, when’s the last time a rock band pointed out that they were inspired by Elvis?
T-Pain sees it a different way, though. “Any originator of anything is gonna be the lesser known because it’s the newest thing,” he said. “And that’s just not — it’s not right, but that’s just how shit goes.”
Do you think T-Pain doesn’t get enough love for his pioneering use of Auto-Tune? Watch the interview below and let us know in the comments.