Tuesday, July 6th, 2021

T-Pain & Kehlani – I Like Dat

Talk to him; he talks back…


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Oliver Maier: The T-Painaissance continues apace. He and Kehlani are a good match here: his goofy Auto-Tune and her velvety natural register reconciled by their inexhaustible shared charisma. A little too much here and there perhaps, but when was the last time you heard a new R&B song you could reasonably critique for being OTT?
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Thomas Inskeep: It’s about time for a T-Pain comeback, and I am here for it. Damned near half of everyone on contemporary R&B/hip-hop radio these days is soaked in Auto-Tune already, so why not bring its original don back to the party? Almost 15 years on from “Buy U A Drank,” T-Pain crosses it with the lyrical DNA of Ne-Yo’s “Miss Independent” and brings in Kehlani to duet with him, providing the female perspective. Whaddaya know: she sounds great here, their harmonies sound great, and the bassline on this is indestructible. I want to hear this booming out of cars this summer, because it’ll sound superb in that setting. Or, actually, in any setting.
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Jonathan Bradley: “Suspicious listeners might notice that this independent woman also happens to be a low-maintenance girlfriend,” said Kelefa Sanneh about a Webbie song from back in T-Pain’s original heyday that also celebrated a woman who had the means to provide for herself. “I like that: she don’t even need me to buy her nothin’,” T-Pain says here, but he also says it like he’s really swooning, in awe of someone who might find him superfluous. (Auto-Tune has often helped T-Pain sound like he’s swooning.) As a remix of “Buy U a Drank,” “I Like Dat” doesn’t have that song’s easy and austere pleasures, but rather drifts along in a merry haze. Kehlani fits into that vibe nicely, but as T-Pain’s counterpart, she doesn’t hold our attention the way she seems to hold his. That should not matter; he is willing to shine a spotlight on her.
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Leah Isobel: It’s overselling a little to call this a “‘Buy U a Drank'” flip from the female perspective,” since Kehlani’s more of a feature than a duet partner. But her cool confidence blends well with T-Pain’s exuberance, updating the original song without losing its joyful excess.
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Alfred Soto: T-Pain at his peak worked best when paired with a vocalist whose “natural” pipes complemented the painterly precision with which he Auto-Tuned his voice. The contrast between him and Kehlani produces the delightful tension I’d expect from good R&B. I like that!
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Nortey Dowuona: Sweet and gorgeous as per usual, and Kehlani and T-Pendergrass make a fantastic team.
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Ian Mathers: In the words of the GOAT Jeff Weiss, “No T-Pain slander shall ever prosper.”
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