“Everybody Knows T-Pain”: A Hatter Productions Comeback

On April 17, 2018, T-Pain performed at Stetson University. To the consensus of many students, "finally."

Sam Hadelman, Writer - The Reporter; Radio Host - WHAT Radio

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Reiterating the consensus of many students, the night T-Pain came to Stetson brought many middle-school dreams to fruition.

On April 17, 2018, in the Edmunds Center, T-Pain performed his early 2000s hits like “Buy Me a Drank”, “I’m Sprung” and “Blame It”. The 32-year-old musician also surprised fans with newer music, such as a sampling from his collaboration with Chance The Rapper, “Finish Line/Drown.”

Rumoured to cost the university upwards of $40,000, which is standard in booking any large scale musical performance, many students at the concert were pleasantly surprised that Hatter Productions was able and willing to get a black musician.

A visible crutch waving during T-Pain’s performance of “Good Life” which states, “now put your hands up in the air,” the crowd was markedly enthusiastic and energized. Perhaps more energized than the performer himself. His short set featured a series of long pauses where T-Pain bent down to catch his breath and sip from bottles of water or the contents of his red solo cup.

Addison Walters, freshman and student athlete, pointed out that this event seemed to bring “a different cultural element and bring Stetson out of its comfort zone” by “bridging together different parts of the community,” including athletes, those Greek affiliated and student leaders. When asked what Stetson’s comfort zone seems to be before, Walters answered, “Hoodie Allen.”

Many entered the video submissions contests hosted by Hatter Productions, where students posted videos of themselves dancing or singing to T-Pain videos in creative ways. At least ten of those participants were selected to meet the performer himself.

“I just want him to buy me a drink to be honest,” said sophomore Ana Manchebo, when asked what she wanted during the meet-and-greet.

Taylor McGee, senior  noted her excitement, “I think this is a good opportunity for stetson to broaden their cultures and different music opportunities.”

“I’ve loved him since I was little,”  Zoya Ambro, senior. She stated that meeting the artists that created so much of the music she loved before college would be realizing a latent dream. “This is my Stetson moment right here.”

Seniors Kelsey Williams and Kiara Stephenson both iterated their surprise, not only at their opportunity of meeting the performer, but surprised that T-Pain would be performing at Stetson at all.

“I’ve never been to a real concert before,” said Kelsey Williams, senior.

“We normally don’t get good, quality people in the music industry,” said Kiara Stephenson, senior.

“Especially someone of color,” finished Williams.

The actual meet-and-greet was constrained to short hellos and a photo opportunity.

Ashley Beigel, junior, noted the work that Hatter Productions took on to hold this event, “I’m really just looking forward to watching the crowd react and have everyone’s work at Hatter Production come to life.”

Jasmine Allen, junior described it as something everyone could be a part of. “Everybody knows T-Pain.” However Allen pointedly asks, “How long is it going to be until we get another [black artist]?”

“[It’s a] good change for [Stetson] to bring a big name,” said junior Angela Osmar.  “[It’s a] good move for them to be diverse. The comedians were getting tired.”

Senior Na’imah Stimpson stated though she’s grateful for Hatter Productions efforts in bringing someone for black audiences, the predominantly white institution seemed to prioritize the majority demographic when booking entertainment at Stetson. “There’s literally nothing for us here. It’s the least you could do.”

The general consensus of the concert was that obtaining a recognizable black headliner was something long overdue, despite the 2014 appearance of singer Sage the Gemini during Homecoming Week.

“It’s about time,” said Mickayala Thomas, sophomore.

“It’s about Goddamn time,” clarified Tahira Perry, freshman.

Photos taken by Sam Hadelman.