T-Pain released a salacious remix of Ella Mai’s “Boo’d Up” out of nowhere on Friday. In a fervent, wide-ranging verse, the “rappa ternt sanga” covers several of his favorite topics, including, but not limited to, butts (“they be like how many songs can you make about a booty – about 1,000”), classic cars (“you remind me of my ’62, I see them sub-woofers jumping”) and a viral dance popularized by rising Memphis rapper Blocboy JB (“Shoot!”).
This is an amusing stunt from T-Pain: The timing of his release seems precisely calculated to overshadow the “official” remix of “Boo’d Up,” which also came out this week. The addition of Nicki Minaj and Quavo to Mai’s slow-burning smash hit is a classic major-label ploy to propel “Boo’d Up” higher into the Top Ten. (It peaked at Number Six; it’s currently sitting at Number Seven.) Unfortunately, the new star features don’t do Mai’s single any favors: Minaj delivers a short, soporific verse, while Quavo’s vocals sound like a hastily recorded afterthought.
But T-Pain comes to the rescue, easily outshining their version with an urgent charm offensive. In contrast to Minaj and Quavo’s lethargic verses, T-Pain delivers a torrent of gummy vocals, gushing layered harmonies and smutty come-ons like a recently opened fire hydrant at a summer block party. It’s wildly over-the-top, absurd yet transfixing, an effective way to achieve maximum impact in less than two minutes. Major labels should take notes.
T-Pain is not the first male artist to fall under the sway of “Boo’d Up.” Meek Mill posted the track on his Instagram, and the Florida rapper Plies also released an unofficial remix of the single. “Men are claiming it more than the women,” Mai told Rolling Stone earlier this year. “A lot of guys are making covers, being in their cars and singing their heart out. [Drake’s] ‘Nice for What’ can still be the summer anthem for the girls, considering that ‘Boo’d Up’ has been claimed for the guys.”