From “Buy U a Drank,” “Bartender” and “Blame It (On the Alcohol)” to “Tipsy,” “Bottlez” and “Drankin’ Patna,” liquor has been a muse for T-Pain throughout the rapper-turned-singer’s storied career.
The lyricist’s lifelong love of libations even led him to create a book of cocktail recipes, titled “Can I Mix You a Drink?” in ode to his first No. 1 single. Published by Kingston Imperial in 2021, T-Pain wrote the book in collaboration with renowned mixologist Maxwell Britten and critically-acclaimed author Kathy Iandoli — featuring adult beverages inspired by the singer’s life and work, as well as some related anecdotes. Now, the trio is mixing digital drinks for the metaverse with a Crypto.com NFT curated collection and some help from 3D visual effects artist TraumAmnesia, who has already released multiple drops on the platform. Going on sale at 10 p.m. tonight, “The CIMYAD Collection” will include animations of various cocktails from the book with a recipe for each.
“You know, a lot of my music is about drinking.”T-Pain, Creator of “The CIMYAD Collection”
A liquor connoisseur, T-Pain’s connection to the alcoholic arts runs deeper than music, however. Curiously reminiscent of the concept for his 2007 top 10 hit “Bartender,” in a perhaps not so coincidental twist of fate, his wife of nearly two decades is actually a certified mixologist — and is even known to make signature cocktails for guests of his “Nappy Boy Radio” podcast, launched during the pandemic. Raised by restaurateurs, the Tallahassee, Florida native has significant roots in the hospitality industry as well — with parents who owned an eatery called Fish-N-D Pocket. Following in their footsteps, he recently announced the purchase of his first restaurant — where he intends to include drinks from “Can I Mix You a Drink?” on the menu.
Mixing It Up
A fellow hospitality veteran, Britten also grew up in the business — his father a restaurateur in the bartender’s hometown of Tucson, Arizona. In the late 2000s, he made a name for himself on the New York City cocktail scene — working at sophisticated bar-forward establishments like Jack the Horse Tavern and Freemans. StarChefs recognized Britten as a Rising Star Mixologist in 2009 and famed Williamsburg cocktail destination Maison Premiere tapped him to run the bar some two years later, where he quickly earned a reputation for his inventive absinthe-based concoctions.
“Maxwell came in to handle the mixology, or else I would have gotten everyone drunk on the first cocktail.”T-Pain, Creator of “The CIMYAD Collection”
After back-to-back nominations for Outstanding Bar Program at the James Beard Awards in 2014 and 2015, Maison Premiere finally received the esteemed honor in 2016 — shortly following Britten’s departure to focus on his role of chief brand officer at The Liquor Cabinet, an app catering to alcohol aficionados. Later that year, he also helped establish The Django at The Roxy Hotel in New York as a go-to destination for cocktails and live jazz in Tribeca.
The Last Word
Also in the mix, hip-hop journalist and writer Iandoli has released several other acclaimed books — including 2019’s “God Save The Queens: The Essential History of Women in Hip-Hop,” a documentation of women’s role in establishing and shaping hip-hop culture from its foundation to the present, and the Aaliyah biography “Baby Girl: Better Known as Aaliyah” in 2021. She is also the co-author of rapper Lil’ Kim’s upcoming memoir, “The Queen Bee,” and has written for a plethora of leading music and entertainment publications. The New Jersey native regularly appears on TV shows, radio programs and panels to discuss hip-hop and gender — and has served as a professor of music business at New York University as well.
“When I recently became fully independent, I reconnected with Kathy Iandoli — who I was originally working on it with — and we finally were able to execute [‘Can I Mix You a Drink?’] the way I wanted to.”T-Pain, Creator of “The CIMYAD Collection”
As T-Pain relayed, he began developing the concept for “Can I Mix You a Drink?” with Iandoli in 2018 — but put the project on hold. He later reconnected with the writer to pick up where they left off, identifying his favorite drinks and putting his conceptual twist on them — then bringing in Britten to refine the recipes. “I have a heavy pour,” the singer joked. Fresh off his acclaimed “Road to Wiscansin” tour, T-Pain spoke with Crypto.com NFT about his new music, opening his first restaurant as well as CIMYAD’s evolution from the bookshelf to the blockchain and beyond.
“When I’m making cocktails at home, I never follow the standard recipe and I always make it my own.”T-Pain, Creator of “The CIMYAD Collection”
Read the Q&A with T-Pain below and visit “The CIMYAD Collection” drop page for more information.
Around this time last year, you said you had fallen in love with music again; what’s your relationship with music in 2022?
Still feel the same. Ever since I’ve gone independent and have no label or management, I get to do exactly what I want to do and don’t have people holding me back or trying to have me make music that sounds like a certain sound. There were a lot of opinions before, and now I’ve gotten to go back to just trusting my gut and what I like — so that is always exciting.
Any new projects in the works?
For the next few months, I’m doing some single releases and also working on two projects — plus a lot of features for other artists. There will be a lot of new T-Pain music coming out over the next two years.
Tell us about CIMYAD’s origin.
“Can I Mix You A Drink?” is something I’ve been talking about for years. I was actually meant to do this back in 2018, but my previous management was trying to insert their own creative direction into it and not really listening to where I wanted to take it. I decided to put it all on hold. But when I recently became fully independent, I reconnected with Kathy Iandoli — who I was originally working on it with — and we finally were able to execute it the way I wanted to.
How’d you come up with the concept?
You know, a lot of my music is about drinking. Think about it: “Blame It,” “Bartender,” “Buy U a Drank” and so on. My music was the inspiration behind it all and that is why we named the drinks after my singles. It just made a lot of sense.
Can you describe how you came up with the individual recipes?
We started out the process with me naming different cocktails that I enjoy. Anytime I travel around for my shows or anything else, I always try to find out what the popular or specialty drink is in that spot — and from that, I had a long list! [Laughs.]
Once we had the cocktails, we discussed how we could put my “T-Pain spin” on them. When I’m making cocktails at home, I never follow the standard recipe and I always make it my own. So yeah, we did that in the book.
After we nailed down the cocktails, I attached them to one of my singles that they reminded me of.
Maxwell then came in to handle the mixology, or else I would have gotten everyone drunk on the first cocktail. I have a heavy pour.
What are some of your personal favorite drinks from the book?
I’m a big fan of the “5 O’Clock.” I’m typically not a big fan of sweets, but the stout beer with the ice cream is a great combo.
Did you have any personal experience with mixology prior to working on CIMYAD?
My wife is actually a certified mixologist, so she is always teaching me how to make different drinks and having me test stuff out. Also, we have my “Nappy Boy Radio” podcast — where in each episode, my wife makes a one-of-one drink for the special guest of that episode. The drink is named after them and they get to take home their recipe.
The pandemic obviously impacted the music industry, due to cancelled tours and other lost opportunities. How did quarantine affect you?
To be honest, quarantine was kind of nice for me. I was constantly traveling for work and this gave me time to sit at home and get things done that I’ve always wanted to do, but just never had the time for.
I saw that you just recently bought your first restaurant; congrats! What can you share about your new venture?
Thank you! Right now, I’m taking my time to renovate the space to get it exactly how I want it to be. I don’t want to rush it; I want it to all be done correctly.
Will any of the drinks from the book be on the menu?
Absolutely! [It] would be crazy not to do that. We will have a wide selection to make sure we are covering all of the different liquor categories that are featured in the book — the tequila-based drinks, gin-based, whisky-based and so on.
Do you have any goals or future plans for CIMYAD, in the NFT space or otherwise?
We are actually coming out with “Can I Remix You a Drink?” — which is a drinking card game — this November. The preorder for it is now up! Always have to have a good drinking game to play.
Browse “The CIMYAD Collection” by T-Pain and Can I Mix You a Drink?
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. The “Can I Mix You a Drink?” NFT Sweepstakes is open and offered only to legal U.S. residents who have reached the age of majority in his or her state of residence at the time of entry. Sweepstakes end November 1, 2022. For entry and official rules with complete eligibility, prize descriptions, odds disclosure and other details, visit www.canimixyouadrink.com.
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Editor’s Note (Sept. 1, 2022): an earlier version of this article was originally published on the Crypto.com NFT Medium blog on Aug. 1, 2022 and has since been edited and/or updated to republish.