T-Pain discusses his transition from rapper to singer at SXSW panel

Katie Walsh

Friday afternoon, T-Pain took to the stage inside the Austin Convention Center not to sing, but to have a conversation. A few hundred people say patiently awaiting his entrance, standing up to greet him as he walked on stage.

“I didn’t know it was gonna be this many people,” T-Pain said. “I would’ve worn looser pants.”

T-Pain’s career has been filled with a lot of ups and downs — from being ridiculed for his Auto-Tune usage by his peers to his viral stripped-down Tiny Desk Concert performance. Friday afternoon, the Grammy-winning artist discussed how he got into music, his family and dealing with backlash.

When he was 10, T-Pain said his dad bought him a drum set. Then his mom a keyboard.

“They just kept feeding the music to me,” T-Pain said.

He started off as a rapper, but said he realized that if he wanted to stand out in his hometown of Tallahassee, he would have to do something new and different to get noticed.

This mindset lead him to the Auto-Tuned sound that became associated with his name. Not only did Auto-Tune bring him into the spotlight, but T-Pain said it also led people to believe that he didn't have a good enough voice to stand alone.

Today, after multiple stripped-down live performances and being named Best R&B Comeback Artist by Rolling Stone, the moderator, Sway Calloway, said T-Pain is well on his way to proving the haters wrong.

A husband and father of three, T-Pain ended the panel with a piece of advice he said he has shares with his kids.

“You have to make the most out of your biggest vision and your worst fear, and you have to learn how to make the most out of everything in between,” T-Pain said.