“When you hear the name T-Pain you automatically think Auto-Tune,” T-Pain said. “I just wanted to get rid of that.”

By Darlene Aderoju
February 28, 2019 11:20 PM
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T-Pain proved that all he does is win when he took home the golden mask on The Masked Singer!

“I feel like there’s been a weight lifted off my shoulders and now that everyone knows what I can do, I feel like it’s giving me a second win,” the singer, 33, told PEOPLE about his Wednesday night victory over fellow performers Gladys Knight and Donny Osmond.

Since the rapper became widely known in the early aughts, when he topped the Billboard Hot 100 list with songs like Buy U A Drank and Bartender, many fans have associated his music with Auto-Tune.

“When you hear the name T-Pain, you automatically think Auto-Tune,” he said. “I just wanted to get rid of that.”

Though he sings at his concerts without Auto-Tune and showed off his soulful voice when he performed for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts series in 2014, fans are still discovering his powerful, natural vocals.

T-Pain
Michael Becker/FOX (2)

“I’ve been proving this for years and years and people still said I was only famous because I used Auto-Tune,” he said. “But now, you know, that’s not true.”

While his reveal as the monster was shocking to some audiences, a fellow famous rapper was one of the first people that T-Pain knew to recognize his voice.

“Lil Wayne was the first, so that was good. I don’t know when Lil Wayne would even have time to watch,” T-Pain said.

The musician said “a ton of people,” including O.T. Genasis and Tory Lanez — both featured on T-Pain’s latest album, 1UP — knew it was him as well.

“Everybody that was featured on my album knew what the deal was. … It was pretty cool to get love from everybody,” he shared.

While filming the show, T-Pain was also recording his album, which was released on the same day as the series finale. “It’s a super great album,” he said. “It’s No. 1 right now, No. 1 in the country and I feel great.”

Lil Wayne

While he’s happy about proving to the world that he can sing without relying on an audio device, that doesn’t mean he’ll stop using Auto-Tune in the future.

“It’s something I wanted to prove to people really quick, I don’t need to use my real voice for lack of a better word, but it was to prove a point to everyone that thought that I don’t have a natural voice,” he explained.

And although his voice captivated viewers and the celebrity panelists alike, learning to perform — and move — inside the costume was a challenge.

“It was the biggest costume and I couldn’t move,” he said of being disguised as the monster, which he jokingly referred to as “a terrible contraption.”

“I could only put my arms up in front of my body and I could only see right in front of me. I just always had to have people helping me, but everybody else had just a mask and clothes, so it wasn’t easy,” he said. “I couldn’t walk and it was very hard to do.”

T-Pain also had a microphone taped to his face during his live performances.

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“Everybody was singing live, they wouldn’t let us pre-record,” he said. “Mine was the worst because there was no way to get a microphone close enough to my face. … It was not easy.”

The musician revealed that singing Sam Smith’s Stay With Me was his favorite live performance of the season.

Despite navigating possibly the most difficult costume out of all of the disguised celebrity contestants, T-Pain chose the monster because it was the “silliest one.”

“That was the only one they couldn’t come up with a name for,” said T-Pain, “so of course that’s the one I wanted.”