King of T-Pain

Buying a gift for a two year old should be easy. I’ve seen kids at that age entertained for hours by little more than a cardboard box or a wooden spoon. By that definition, a few bottle-tops and a roll of sticky tape should keep them occupied until well after Christmas. But where, I ask, is the fun in that?

Buying a gift for a two year old should be easy.  I’ve seen kids at that age entertained for hours by little more than a cardboard box or a wooden spoon.  By that definition, a few bottle-tops and a roll of sticky tape should keep them occupied until well after Christmas.  But where, I ask, is the fun in that? 

My demands were simple.  I wanted a toy that was both mind-blowingly awesome and easy to wrap.  Most of all, I wanted something of a musical nature.  Let me say that toy stores are not what they used to be.  More than that, toy stores are not where they used to be, which was tucked away in a distant corner of every half decent shopping centre known to humanity.  These were more than just de facto child-care centres; they were places of wonderment that felt like an entire universe for the sole enjoyment of children.  But much like imperial measurement and singers who can sing without aid of a computer, such things are now extinct.  There are, it would seem, no more toy stores.  There are only toy departments inside much larger stores.

This has had a clear effect on quality.  All I wanted was a little keyboard suitable for use by a two year old.  This, as it turns out, was almost impossible to find.  Instead, every television show had some kind of product for sale.  It was as though the controls have now been permanently set to ‘shameless cash in’.  There was the ‘Glee’ karaoke machine, the Hannah Montana nose hair trimmer and an inflatable horse inspired by the television show ‘Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman’.   These were not toys but franchise off-cuts.  It was dispiriting.

What I wanted was a basic musical keyboard that was sturdy enough to take anything a two year old could dish out whilst maintaining its musical accuracy.  Therefore, anything that could go out of tune was instantly disqualified.  With the possible exception of the batteries, any object that might wear out was also of no use.  What I needed was the musical equivalent of a Sherman tank.  Store after store, I scoured every toy department I could find in search of a suitable gift.  Like a man searching for Lasseter’s reef, I began to descend into madness as I travelled along aisle after endless aisle.  It was then that I saw it.  Some things are so truly awful, that there is almost a kind of beauty in their hideousness.  Amongst the dolls, board games and plastic toys stood an object so plainly objectionable that its mere existence demanded its purchase.  I speak, of course, of the ‘I am T-Pain microphone’.

An explanation may well be in order.  For those of you about to ask ‘what’s a T-Pain?’, you should hold your horses, feed them some sugar and then lead those gentle but noble beasts back to the stable because you will not be needing them.  T-Pain is not a ‘what’.  T-Pain is a ‘who.’ 

Born Faheem Rasheed Najm, T-Pain is described as a singer-songwriter, record producer, rapper and actor.  As it happens, this exact same description appears on the bottom of every email I send but, however, that is where the similarities end.  For T-Pain and I part company on the question of spelling and punctuation.  Suffice to say, his debut album was entitled ‘Rappa Ternt Sanga’.  It’s as if he was deliberately trying to provoke the spell check function on every computer in the universe.  It gets worse.  Much, much worse.

His songs include ‘Take Your Shirt Off’, ‘Reverse Cowgirl’ and what I can only assume is a sensitive power ballad popular at weddings the world over, ‘I’m N Luv (Wit a Stripper)’.  It is therefore only natural that he should move into making children’s toys.  But before you snort derisively and reach for your ‘Tom Jones 2000’ wonder-mike, the all-new ‘I Am T-Pain’ microphone comes with a promise that it will make you sound like T-Pain.  I suppose that’s alright, so long as it doesn’t make you spell like him.

As a singer, I suspect T-Pain made a wonderful rapper.  His recordings are noted for their heavy use of something called ‘Auto-Tune’.  This is a technology that mechanically tunes the voice so that the singer is in pitch.  If used modestly, it’s probably a useful way to tidy up little mistakes.  However, if restraint is tossed from the window with all the abandon of rusted apple core, you end up with Cher.  For the sake of argument, for those who think that the Cher song ‘If You Believe in Love’ represents humanity’s finest achievement to date, then the liberal use of Auto-tune will be as computer corrected music to your ears of clay.  For me, I can’t stand it.

I’m not sure which of T-Pain’s songs a two year old is supposed to sing with the ‘I am T-Pain’ microphone.  I’m not really sure that T-Pain is quite the singer young kids should be looking up to but, try as I might, the ‘I Am Sam Cooke’ and ‘I Am Aretha Franklin’ microphones were nowhere to be seen.  Perhaps they were out of stock.  I suppose everyone’s entitled to make a living, but I’m surprised that T-Pain has chosen children’s toys in his bid for diversification.  I’d have much preferred him take a risk and endorse his own range of surgical scrubs or autographed spatulas.  If that’s no good, then at least his own range of paracetamol products, promising ‘T-Pain relief.’  They could give them away free with each microphone.

Leave a Reply