T-Pain feat. Lil Wayne — “Can’t Believe It”

Released: 7.29.08

Peak: #7

Faheem Rasheed Najm is still ‘n luv wit a stripper, though the sprinkling synths and simulated finger snaps of “Can’t Believe It” create such an open-air feel that you might not guess the young lady here’s occupation right away. While in search of what he calls a little “ventilation,” Pain maneuvers his latest infatuee into a back room for a chat about the various homes he can supply throughout the New World, from Toronto to Costa Rica. The forced mis-rhyme “A mansion/ Somewhere in Wisconsin” is so charming that you can almost put out of mind the image of some poor Tallahassee lass marooned all alone in mid-February in a giant, empty house outside of Sheboygan.

So give Pain credit for thematic consistency, even in pastoral mode. But for all its open electronic pastures, “Can’t Believe It” also features truly lewd guest spot from Lil Wayne, whose whisper-croak combines elements of Smeagol at his most unctuous and two balloons rubbing together. The rapper creeps around the edges of the production like the Ghost of Future Yet to Come, indicating the fate that awaits T-Pain if he chooses to spend the rest of his life crushing out in strip clubs. You gonna get yourself hurt here, Pain.

Neither vocal performance here would be half as effective without that bane of all right-thinking music fans, Auto-Tune, which both vocalists self-consciously manipulate to masterly effect. Apparently, though, such vocal processing physically discomfits some sensitive types, just as feedback and distortion once did. Fortunately, classic rock stations still play the old-timey folk music that will soothe their 20th century eardrums.

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