Quincy Jones’ Vulture interview is the gift that keeps on giving — even if only indirectly. While the blunt conversation has dominated much of online discussion today, recently-resurgent trap-soul singer T-Pain chimed in on the day’s discourse touched off by Jones’ controversial remarks to clear the air around one of the quotes that concerned him.
Back in 2010, T-Pain took part in Q: Soul Bossa Nostra, a somewhat ill-advised collection of hip-hop-inflected songs featuring rappers and contemporary R&B singers paying homage to the production legend over remakes of some of his biggest hits. Perhaps it was influenced by the success of Ludacris’ Austin Powers theme music-sampling “Number One Spot” from Red Light District, but ultimately the album was a flop, and Jones had some interesting things to say about the process in the Vulture interview.
What’s the last mistake you learned from?
My last record [2010’s Q: Soul Bossa Nostra]. I was not in favor of doing it, but the rappers wanted to record something as a tribute to me, where they’d do versions of songs that I’d done over my career. I said to them, “Look, you got to make the music better than we did on the originals.” That didn’t happen. T-Pain, man, he didn’t pay attention to the details.
Of course, with Jones being a classically-trained composer and arranger, his disappointment with hip-hop was always going to be more or less a given. However, T-Pain took to his Twitter — as one does in these situations — to, if not defend himself, at least tell his side of the story. According to him, he was uncomfortable with the idea of taking on a Quincy Jones classic (he remade “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” alongside Robin Thicke) and told the legend so before making the attempt.
“For the record, I told my managers (at the time) and I told @QuincyDJones in his face ‘I don’t want to remake any of your past records because I know I’m gonna f*ck it up,'” he tweeted. “‘I’ll never be able to reach the greatest of MJ’ it took them hours to pump me up to even go in the booth and I still hated it when I came out of the booth. Then the song came out and it was even worse than it sounded in the studio. This is legit one of the reasons I don’t work with the managers I had anymore because if I said I was uncomfortable doing something they didn’t care,” he explained.
Well, whether or not T-Pain “paid attention to the details” or just felt uncomfortable trying to match one of the most perfect songs ever, it seems everybody involved learned a lesson. Some classics are just better left untouched.