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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

T-Pain @ The Rave

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

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Rapper/crooner T-Pain warned the audience that his performance at The Rave would be more than just a concert: It was going to be a full-out party, he said, as he shook his head-full of blond-dipped black dreads, which were heaped into a rear ponytail. T-Pain has mastered the art of creative live oration, marrying many songs to voluptuous choruses accompanied by acoustic guitar. Last Wednesday, when he delivered his 2005 debut single, “I’m Sprung,” about the euphoric feeling of falling in love (or lust, whichever fits), he induced a frenzied reaction from his fans, many of who are too young to appreciate his Vocoder-touting predecessor, the late Roger Troutman of Zapp.

T-pain spared no expense on a blinding light show, rumored to have taken several days to finalize, and he flaunted not one, not two, but seven equally blinding grills encrusted with various colored diamonds and shimmering yellow gold, covering any would-be teeth like cooled hot fudge.

Every bit the showmen, T-Pain and (it’s OK to say this here) his “Nappy Boys” went all out. Even an a cappella interlude of an old Negro spiritual “Nobody Knows” didn’t deter the energy. The crowd was ecstatic.

And why not? After all, Milwaukee has anticipated his arrival for more than a year, ever since he canceled a show last summer. As screams filled the room, and cell phones replaced lighters in the air, T-Pain made up for his missed show with completely crunked, up-tempo versions of hits from his latest album, Epiphany. Well-choreographed, signature twists, struts and spins caused his already roomy jeans to fall to his ankles during one of the somewhat-steamy performances of his slower tunes. Unapologetically, he continued to perform while the audience returned his volley of semi-nastiness, tossing a bra—and then a pair of panties—on stage.

T-Pain gets by with a little help from his friends, as most of his recent songs feature a guest spot or two. For his finale, he chose one featuring a hook from Rick Ross, “The Boss,” and despite Ross’ physical absence, T-Pain brought the house down with a throat-vibrating conclusion to the night.