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Rapper T-Pain goes steam punk on "rEVOLVEr"

Singer T-Pain performs in concert during the F.A.M.E. Tour in Los Angeles
Singer T-Pain performs in concert during the F.A.M.E. Tour in Los Angeles

By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rapper T-Pain released his fourth studio album, "rEVOLVEr," on Tuesday, featuring his hit single "5 O'clock" with Lily Allen and Wiz Khalifa.

A big collaborator on other artists' albums, T-Pain brought in numerous musicians with him on "rEVOLVEr," including Pitbull, Lil Wayne, Ne-Yo and Chris Brown.

The rapper, 26, incorporated his trademark auto-tune sound, known as 'The T-Pain" effect, into his latest album, which features a mixture of up-tempo dance tracks such as "It's Not You (It's Me)" featuring Pitbull and "Best Love Song" featuring Chris Brown, as well as slow, romantic songs such as "Sho-Time (Pleasure Thang)."

With the release of "rEVOLVEr" on December 6, exactly 6 years after the release of the Grammy-winning rapper's debut album "Rapper Ternt Sanga," early critical response has been mixed.

Pete Cashmore of British music publication NME, gave the album a five out of ten rating, saying the rapper, at times, "sounds like a bog-standard rap vocalist who's got a Jew's harp stuck in his throat." But Rocia Anica at ArtistsDirect.com rated the album five out of five, highlighting tracks like "5 O'Clock," "Bottlez" and "It's Not You (It's Me)" and praising the rapper for being "exuberant, but never excessive."

T-Pain recently sat down with Reuters to talk about the new album, his family and building the T-Pain brand.

Q: Is there a theme for this album?

A: "Steam punk. It's a movement that's been happening for a long time and it's got a following that's been crazy. A lot of people don't know about it. It's like the modern world meets the 1800s."

Q: Any songs on the album hold special meaning for you?

A: "There's a song called 'Drowning Again.' It's basically about the problems I've had with my wife, going through all the stuff we went through and how we bounced back. It's like falling in love a second time."

Q: How do you decide when you want to use your auto-tune pitch corrector on songs? "Drowning Again," for example, doesn't use it.

A: "Certain songs are right for it, others don't need it. It's basically just the feeling of the song. It's a fun effect, but if you're trying to do a heartfelt song, you don't want to use a fun effect on it."

Q: You've worked with so many artists. Who is your dream collaborator that you'd love to work with?

A: "Andre 3000 is a dream of mine."

Q: Why hasn't that happened?

A: "Well, right when I got into music, when I came up and got enough rank to work with him, he kind of stopped doing music (laughs). Terrible timing I guess."

Q: Last year you appeared in the movie "Lottery Ticket" starring Bow Wow. Any plans for more acting?

A: "Not really. I'm a terrible actor. With 'Lottery Ticket,' it took Bow Wow to call me to come in real quick. I was like, 'All right, where's the set, what do I say?' It was fun, but it's not like I'm walking around saying, 'I wanna be an actor one day.' It was just a favor for Bow Wow."

Q: Besides the music, you also have a T-Pain microphone that uses a voice modification technique. Are you conscious of building a brand?

A: "Of course. Nowadays everybody's trying to do something to make their brand bigger, whether it be a clothing line or a fragrance. You gotta find different ways (to stand out) in a business that's really overflowing with musicians."

Q: Often on stage you wear big hats, bold sunglasses and a grill on your teeth. What's the real T-Pain style?

A: "T-shirt and pajama pants. That's what it is. That's what I have on right now. That's what I wear every day -- a T-shirt and pajama pants."

Q: You have three young children with your wife Amber. Any of them display musical ability?

A: "My son (six-year-old Muziq) I think, but all of them get in front of a mirror with a hairbrush and go to town."

Q: Do they ever come to your shows?

A: "No, they don't like the noise that much, unless it's noise they're making! (laughs). They don't even come in the studio that much because they end up covering their ears."

Q: Do you have a grand plan?

A: "I just wanna live, that's pretty much it. I just wanna be able to get these ideas out of my head, let other people hear them and live my life."

(Additional reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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