When T-Pain entered the music industry, he came out swinging.
His debut single, “I’m Sprung,” which he wrote and produced, was well received, reaching No. 8 and spending 26 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.
What’s more, the song even attracted the attention of several record labels, including Interscope Records.
“Interscope Records offered me a $900,000 signing bonus as an 18-year-old,” T-Pain said during an interview with Real 92.3. “That sounds crazy. Out of Tallahassee. And at this very moment, there’s no lights on in your house. At this very moment, my studio’s been run off a generator outside and we can’t run it past 11 o’clock… I have no power in my house. We can’t pay for gas to get to the airport, to fly to Interscope Records. They’re offering us these things. And you know, we went to Atlantic, which was offering $700,000, but everybody was offering all these things for the single, just for the one record.”
However, T-Pain was chasing the dream — not the bag.
Although labels were offering him what appeared to be his biggest payday, at that time, he was looking for longevity in the music business.
Akon, who was had a label deal with Interscope Records, expressed similar intentions for the “Buy U a Drank” singer. He had first taken notice of T-Pain after he covered his song “Locked Up.”
“When I went to all these companies, they was like, ‘I love this song. I love this song. What can we do? Can we get another song? Can we do this song?'” T-Pain told 92.3. “And Akon was like, ‘I love you. I love what you’re doing and I wanna make sure you have a long career.’ He was the only person talking like that. And I wasn’t in it for short money. I was in there trying to get the long play going. He was the only one talking about it, so I went with him… and I literally ran away from home in order to sign with Akon.”
“I went to Akon and Akon said, ‘Bro, I got 20 grand and a career. I can guarantee I’ll give you 20 grand. I know that’s not a lot of money, but I guarantee you’re gonna have a career and not just a song,'” T-Pain detailed.
T-Pain appears to show no regrets with the decision.
“To this day, I’ve made ten-times that off that one song,” T-Pain said.