When T-Pain sang the hook on DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win,” he was just calling his 2019 shot. The “rappa-ternt-sanga” won the reality show The Masked Singer dressed up as a monster who brought celebrity panelist Nicole Scherzinger to tears. On episode 8, he knew this was a chance at redemption after too many dormant years threatened to disrupt his career. “I learned the hard way that it just takes one slip to make you lose your place in the world,” T-Pain, as the Monster, said. “It's crazy that losing my identity has brought me the comeback I've wanted for a decade.” He was cyclops-head-and-shoulders above his competitors Donny Osmond (the peacock) and Gladys Knight (the bee), leading many of his friends to burn up his phone airing their suspicions. “Everybody that got my phone number hit me, ‘How do they not know that's you?’” T-Pain told Beats 1’s Ebro Darden. “When they pitched me the show, I was like, ‘I'm going to be off the first episode. There's no way that nobody is not going to know that's me.’ The judges are great people—I don't think they've ever heard me sing before.” That’s highly unlikely given T-Pain’s impressive track record: “I’m N Luv (Wit a Stripper),” “Bartender,” “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’),” and too many hooks to count. The reality show, combined with his sixth studio album 1UP, serves as a reminder of what made T-Pain one of rap and R&B's most reliable hitmakers in the late 2000s. “RIP to the Parking Lot” with Boosie Badazz and “Getcha Roll On” with Tory Lanez show his knowledge of club dynamics. Although he won The Masked Singer without using pitch correction software, he employs it tastefully here on the ballads “Be Your X” and “Keep This from Me.” And T-Pain confirmed to Ebro that “It’s My Dog Birthday” is a tribute to his canine pals, not human ones (nose boops to his French bulldogs Rallo and Roger). “I also have a Persian cat named Stewie. All my pets are named after the kids on Seth MacFarlane shows.” 1UP also takes aim at the disrespect he’s endured after seeing subsequent rappers-turned-singers get rich off his robotic vocal style. It boils over on “Goat Talk,” his collaboration with Lil Wayne. “I called Wayne. ‘You got to talk your s--t. I don't think you have enough disrespect for records out there, and I want you to disrespect everybody,’” he told Ebro. “And then Wayne was like, ‘All right, I got that. But how do they not know that you’re on The Masked Singer?’ I was like, ‘Wayne, that's not what we're talking about today.’”

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