T-Pain's animated 'Freaknik': 'Strippers start coming and flying out the air'
Cancún. Daytona Beach. Panama City. Fort Lauderdale.
All popular spring break vacations for college students looking to unwind, drink copious amounts of alcohol and perhaps partake in a wet T-shirt contest or two. The frequency of the latter sort of debauchery may or may not depend on the presence of MTV camera crews.
There was a time when Atlanta was a hot destination during spring break with its annual Freaknik festival, which in its heyday attracted hundreds of thousands of predominately black students from the surrounding colleges and universities.There was loud music, barely there bikinis, globs of people clogging traffic, and cameras were known to be rolling -- mostly to record the ladies.
It’s been more than 10 years since Atlanta has seen the festival, but thanks to Adult Swim and T-Pain, the party has been resurrected from the grave.
On Sunday, the Cartoon Network will premiere “Freaknik: The Musical,” a 60-minute animated feature produced by, and starring, the rapper -- and yes, there will be use of Auto-Tune.
"Back in the '90s, Freaknik was Atlanta's version of the ultimate block party. It was Mardi Gras meets spring break, at your crazy cousin's bachelor party, and anything could happen," T-Pain said. "It was just the biggest party of all time. The black version of what people see on MTV."The Grammy Award-winning rapper and producer voices the ghost of Freaknik’s past, and the little guy even sports a diamond-encrusted chain, pimp cup and oversized shades much like the rapper. The character's hauntings are strictly of the party variety. T-Pain said anywhere the ghost goes, the revelry starts, and “strippers start coming and flying out the air."
T-Pain teamed up with Carl Jones, also co-executive producer of "The Boondocks," and Adult Swim executive Nick Weidenfeld for the animated musical, crafting a tale that follows a rap group -- and its weed man -- trying to make it to the annual party and compete in the Battle of the Trillest.Both Jones and Weidenfeld said they were cognizant of the negative connotations of the defunct festival, which was shut down by Atlanta in 1999.
“In my opinion, the way we tried to approach this thing was we looked at the essence of this party and the reason people tried to do this thing," Jones said. "It came from a good place. They went there to have a good time. Anytime you get a large group of people there will be problems. A lot of it comes from racism, and we hit on that on the show. There’s no real isolated incidents other than traffic jams. It’s funny. If you look at the statistics, it was more so [complaints of] that many black people in places.”Weidenfeld said he was fascinated at how people have chosen to focus on negative aspects of the festival (there were numerous reports of men openly disrespecting women), despite being a launching pad for a number of rappers.
“Anyone that you talk to talk about what it did for their careers," Weidenfeld said. "When Big Boi did his role, or when Snoop Dogg did his role, they all have great memories of Freaknik. That’s when OutKast broke. They don’t make the history. Like Carl said, bad things go down in Daytona, bad things go down in Fort Lauderdale. [Freaknik] made a lot of money, but did it make the right people money.”The cartoon, which had been in the works for a few years, features a slew of guest voices, including funnymen Andy Samberg, Bill Hader and Charlie Murphy, and a who’s who of hip-hop with Lil Wayne, Kelis, Cee-Lo, Rick Ross, Lil Jon, Bootsy Collins and George Clinton.
Weidenfeld said that he is almost certain the special will get a DVD release, but that it's unknown at this point whether the original music will be released, though he hopes it will be.
As for T-Pain’s new album, “Revolver,” he confirmed that he finished it early this week and that he's aiming for an April drop.
-- Gerrick D. Kennedy
Follow me on Twitter @GerrickKennedy
Photo: (Above) The ghost of Freaknik (voiced by T-Pain) gets the party started. Credit: Cartoon Network. (Below) T-Pain helped create and executive produce the animated feature. Credit: Derick G.
"Freaknik: The Musical" premieres March 7 at 11:30 p.m. on the Cartoon Network.