T-Pain caught Akon’s attention when he released a version of “Locked Up” titled “I’m F***ed Up.” When Akon heard T-Pain’s voice and realized there was more depth to the version than the title implied, he got in contact with the Florida-based “rappa ternt sanga” (who also produces and writes) and signed him to his Jive-distributed Konvict Muzik label. Rappa Ternt Sanga, beyond containing a few strong tracks with plenty of range between them, shows promise. T-Pain has a seductive vocal style (he does sound somewhat similar to his mentor), plenty of effective hooks, and strong productions, but he presses too much when he tries to stick out lyrically. The craziest offense is “Studio Luv,” in which he comes out sounding more than a little silly: “you remind me of a brand new saxophone,” “your body’s like a flute,” “do you mind if I pluck up on your strings,” “I would stroke your body like I do my keyboard.” Another hindrance is the digital vocal processing that pops up as often as water droplets in R. Kelly tracks. Though this factor has brought about plenty of comparisons to Zapp’s Roger Troutman (as in the electro-funk classic “More Bounce to the Ounce” and late-’80s slow jam favorite “I Want to Be Your Man”), Troutman used an actual vocoder (which produced a different-sounding effect), and T-Pain winds up sounding more like the Cher of “Believe.” Had there been limited use of studio tricks and more guidance (as a new signee to a label with major distribution, T-Pain handles an inordinate amount of the writing and production duties), Rappa Ternt Sanga would’ve been a more-than-respectable debut.