The year was 2008, and rappers like Flo Rida, Plies and T.I. were at peak relevancy. One in particular, however, was on top of the world. Born Faheem Rashad Najm, “T-Pain,” a Tallahassee, Fl. product, exploded onto the mainstream scene with Epiphany in 2007. Both singles from the project, “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’)” and “Bartender,” became megahits and launched the Auto-Tune-dependent rapper/singer onto a new level of fame. “Buy U A Drank,” especially, remains iconic and one of the enduring anthems of the mid-to-late 2000s. His brand had elevated himself to a somewhat untouchable level. He was, elegantly — and more effectively than anybody else — spitting game.
Weddings, on the other hand, traditionally spit, uh, tradition. They all essentially follow the same basic formula in both order and detail, leading to occasionally redundant ceremonies. For example, “Canon in D” and “The Bridal Chorus” are two processional mainstays; time-tested, respectable compositions that act not only as orchestral background but social standard as well. Classic? Sure, but for an increasingly (generally speaking) experimental wedding crowd, there needs to be a valid alternative. R&B (past and present) has a natural place in any type of love affair, and even if it hasn’t become a common trend yet, promising young artists keep churning out risqué, wedding-ready songs. What better way, then, to infuse some new-school suave into an arguably outdated institution and jumpstart the trend than with some T-Pain?
His sound was almost made for this type of setting. His third album, Three Ringz (2008), had certifiable hits (“Chopped N Skrewed,” “Freeze,” and “It Ain’t Me” were destined for national airwaves as soon as they were released), but nothing was as purely masterful and versatile as “Can’t Believe It.” Nothing can come close to its ultra-romantic tone, which epitomizes lovey-dovey T-Pain. And nothing is better fit to marry those in love.
T-Pain himself exhibits infinite charm in making sure everyone understands he’s ready to commit. No matter where he is, whether it’s a “log cabin, somewhere in Aspen,” or a “mansion, somewhere in Wisconsin,” he’ll do whatever it takes to make his significant other happy. His love transcends any setting, as should the love of newlyweds. A matrimony soundtracked by such an exquisite slow jam is certainly an auspicious beginning to a healthy, daring relationship.
There could, however, be some understandable resentment to this movement. Old souls might not be comfortable with the extent of sensuality in the ballad. That being said, such raunchiness seems to fit the maturity level of this new generation. The song is slow. It’s sensual. The pace is tailor-made for a walk down the aisle in which the bride (or groom, or parents, or all of the above) can absorb the love in the air. Coordinate each step with the snap of the beat and watch the audience feel the vibe as well. (Chop the mix before Lil Wayne’s inaudible verse to save the grandparents from hearing in-depth sexual play-by-play).
This innovation can potentially lay the foundation for later espousal lovesounds. Dvsn, an up-and-coming Drake cosign, hasn’t quite enjoyed the mainstream success that allowed “Can’t Believe It” to gain such notoriety, but its sound on debut album Sept. 5th, namely in “Hallucinations,” follows a formula similar to T-Pain’s. Along with Majid Jordan and, to a lesser extent, Bryson Tiller, a new wave of slow jams can surely find themselves riding “Can’t Believe It” hypothetical wake in the arena of new-age wedding processionals. It could, and should, be the norm sometime soon. This might not be a welcome change for all, but it’s an experiment worth trying, and T-Pain can rightfully claim responsibility for all of it.