Shaheed Najm & his son Fahiym “T-Pain” Najm in 2005
Tensions have been high between T-Pain and his father/former manager Shaheed Najm ever since Shaheed was left sitting alone at the negotiating table at Interscope Records in L.A. while his son signed paperwork with Akon’s Konvict Music label in Atlanta back in 2005. Needless to say, both Pain and Akon have been riding high on the music charts since then, while Shaheed has been sitting on the sidelines in quiet resentment being treated like “a crackhead” (in his opinion) by his son’s management.
According to Bossip.com, T-Pain was previously quoted as saying:
“Now my dad asks for money every time I talk to him, and that’s just weird. He and I used to get along fantastic – until all the dollar signs. My whole family, man, they see what they see and they automatically ask for stuff. It ain’t a problem except when they ask for shit they don’t need. I bought my mom a house and a Porsche truck. I bought my sister a Buick truck. I gave my dad $20,000. I didn’t even feel that one. But he asked for more, like, two days later. It got to the point where he straight up said, ‘Gimme $250,000 and you don’t have to worry about me no more.’ Like, what the fuck? That’s a payoff for your dad?”
When we reminded him of this quote during his November OZONE cover story interview, he clarified that it was taken out of context. Regardless, the $250,000 blackmail rumors seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Furious at the perceived insult to his manhood and fatherhood, T-Pain’s father requested a chance to respond in an interview format. The “interview” turned into an hour-long monologue condensed below (yeah, that’s “condensed”.. you shoulda seen the full version) as an OZONE exclusive which also appears in the March print edition of the mag.
Akon & T-Pain in 2005
Worldwide superstardom never comes without a price. Many talented musicians have learned the true meaning of “more money, more problems,” and autotune crooner/songwriter T-Pain is no exception. Here in his own words, T-Pain’s father and former manager Shaheed Najm vents and accuses Akon, his brother Bu, and T-Pain’s current management of manipulating his son and dividing-and-conquering their family.
[Editor’s Note: This article solely reflects the opinions of Shaheed Najm. OZONE has not verified the accuracy of any facts or accusations within. T-Pain, Akon, Bu, Konvict Music, & T-Pain’s management were not contacted for comment.]
Akon called us for a couple weeks straight and we went to meet with him under the guise that T-Pain was gonna get a label deal. At the meeting, Akon wanted to buy six songs off the album. I told him he’d lost his mind. We weren’t there to suck off of what [Akon] had. We wanted my son to become [a star] like [Akon] is.
Akon thought we were a bunch of country boys. They didn’t realize that our intellectual prowess was, in many ways, superior to theirs. My son was fascinated with Akon’s stardom but [he and his brother] were like little boys to me. I respect them for what they do, but I don’t worship nobody. I told them if they wanted to get involved in the process of getting [T-Pain] a deal, they’d have to come like businessmen. We had already spent a lot of money [on T-Pain’s career]. I spent my retirement savings. I had a job for 25 years. Me and my wife were married for 30 years and we’re still good friends. Nobody can separate us from our babies. I have 22 grandchildren right now. We’re no joke. I worked a long time in this community and took care of most of these young boys. I made a promise to my children that whatever they tried to do, I’d back them 100%. So I learned the music business.
The reason the Nappy Headz didn’t break through with “Robbery” is because a label [prematurely] made an announcement that they had been signed. All the other record labels backed off. Akon’s brother Bu did the same thing. Bu tried to come off as a friend, but what he was really doing was interfering. [T-Pain] opened up for a show with Anthony Hamilton in Tallahassee and Bu got on the mic and said, “I want to make an announcement that T-Pain just signed with Konvict Records.” I called Akon and told him what his brother did and he admitted that he’d been telling people the same thing.
Akon and his brother [Bu] were manipulating my son behind the scenes. I told Fahiym, my son -“ T-Pain is his alter ego -“ that I had sensed Akon was a dirty dude. I haven’t talked to [Akon] since they back-stabbed me. They manipulated my son. [My son] will probably say differently because he wants to protect his friendship with them, but I don’t give a shit. Akon is a Muslim. We’re Muslims. The dirty games he plays, sending his little brother Bu to manipulate my son, offering him all kinds of things and charming him away from his father, that’s the nastiest shit in the music game. That isn’t how a Muslim is supposed to act.
We went down to Springfest in Miami to meet with a bunch of record labels – Slip-N-Slide, Atlantic, Konvict, everybody. Akon pitched his proposal and we tentatively agreed to it. I told them to put it in writing. I’ve been down that road too: people will promise you the world, but none of it is in the contract. With the Nappy Headz deal [that fell through], I had made the mistake of listening to labels promise us things and waiting on those promises instead of running an independent operation at the same time. I took an oath to never do that again. When the opportunity for [T-Pain’s] solo deal came along, I explained to him the pros and cons of each deal from my perspective as a father and manager. Every step of the way he agreed with me.
Unknown to me, they were having different discussions behind the scenes. Akon had my son signing papers without contacting me, knowing that I’m his manager. [Akon and Bu] spread rumors that I’m on crack. Most folks don’t know this, but I’m on a waiting list for a heart transplant. I’ve had a triple bypass and a stroke since dealing with the Nappy Headz. For them to disgrace me like this and treat me like a bad daddy -“ that’s why I’m fighting back. I’ve let a lot of things go without commenting out of respect for my son. And I didn’t sue to get my money because that’s my child. I love him more than I love money.
T-Pain said in an interview that I so-called blackmailed him for $250,000. I am the first black male in the damn family. I am the original black male. (laughs) But I never tried to blackmail him for $250.000. That’s a goddamn lie. I’ve never asked him for $250,000 to pay my bills. I asked him to give me and his mother one show per month and let us split the proceeds. At the time he was only making $20,000 a show. One show a month. He was doing a whole bunch of shows. That’s nothing big to ask for. I’ve never asked for $250,000 and I really don’t appreciate being lied on. I’ve heard all kinds of stuff, but when you challenge me as a man and as a father, I hate that with a passion.
I love my son more than I love money, and I want to say that louder than anything else. I hate the fact that we’re at this discourse, but he’s got so many people interfering. There’s so many niggas on his dick -“ excuse my French -“ tryin’ to get on. Even his management tries to block me to get me out of the way. I know the game, man, and I’m sick of people playing these games and destroying families over some damn money. I’ll go to my grave broke and raggedy like I am right now if I have to. I hate to speak on this [in a magazine] but that’s the last lie I want told on me. I will not sit by and hear no more of this bullshit.
When I see my son I graciously greet him and hug him. I don’t ask for money or anything. I’m trying to share opportunities with him and management’s trying to keep me blocked out. When my boys become grown men, I treat them like grown men. I don’t interfere with their decisions and their life; I don’t try to run their homes. I love my grandchildren with the same love that I gave my children.
I don’t even know anything about the deal [T-Pain signed with Akon]. That’s how far away I was from [the situation]. We had another offer [at Interscope Records] and when I went out there to meet with them, Fahiym didn’t even come. You can ask TJ [Chapman]; we were at Interscope apologizing because T-Pain didn’t come out there. They spent money on us to come out there [to Los Angeles] and T-Pain was in Atlanta with Bu. We couldn’t negotiate anything because the main man wasn’t there. While we were sitting there, Bu called them to interfere.
Akon didn’t do anything to develop my son. My son was a finished product when he left my house. I used to interview them on the couch in 1999, 2000, 2001, as if they were on the couch at 106th & Park. That’s why he does interviews well, and if you go back and check the record, you’ll hear him quoting me on damn near everything he says.
I’m a grown man that has always challenged this society about the way we’ve been treated. So to anybody out there that’s still trying to encourage a division between me and my son, they can suck my dick. I love my son, and I love his children and his family, but I don’t like the way I’ve been treated by his managers. His managers treat me and my wife like we’re crackheads. When we come around we have to beg for tickets [to his shows]. Man, if that was me, I would honor my parents.
They spread rumors about me all over this country. I’m a walking shame. This should be a time of celebration for me, but it’s almost like my funeral instead. [T-Pain] didn’t fall out of the sky. That boy was built. I took him out of public school at age thirteen and taught him at home and bought him everything necessary to become the musician he is today.
T-Pain & Bu in 2005
Akon and Bu are nasty ass niggas. They’re supposed to be Muslims but there’s nothing Islamic about what they did to my family. They’ve got us walking around in disgrace because their greedy asses want all the cars, all the women, all the pleasure, and all the opportunity. They know it’s fucked up, and I’ll tell ’em to their face if I’m ever in their presence again. But they duck me because they know I’ve got a bullshit shield. They know I’m bullshit-proof; that’s why they back-doored my son.
Akon sends his little brother in [to do the dirty work] so his hands will be clean. I listened to the dumb stuff that little boy [Bu] said. He couldn’t hold a good conversation with me so he sold my teenager a bunch of dreams. I don’t need a dream merchant in my life. I’m not buying dreams. I’m a grown man. I really don’t appreciate Akon because he has no integrity. He’s never kept his word. When we first met and he introduced himself as “Akon,” I’ve got a metaphoric mentality, so I thought, “a con”? A con what? A con man? A convict? I don’t even know his real name. I’ll slap the shit outta Akon. He’s a thieving, un-Islamic, back-stabbin’ pussy. Put that in the book. I’m hotheaded enough to tell him that to his face.
I get a retirement check, but it’s not a lot of money. I’m on my ass right now, and I don’t deserve to be on my ass. All my money is gone and I’m struggling like I’m on social security. I should be honored for creating the most phenomenal thang that ever came out of Tallahassee. I saw [the talent] God had given [T-Pain] for music. I was him; that’s how I identified it. I was Mr. Music in high school. I was the drum major, director of the student choir and concert band; a very popular guy in the Marching 100.
I have one bone to pick with my son. [In his OZONE interview] he said that my bills are not his responsibility. I’m being kicked to the curb. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry can come through his world except his father who built him. He didn’t do this by himself.
A lot of family members didn’t want me to [speak on this], and I respect that, but you’ve gotta understand everything I went through [for him]. I had a stroke in Ft. Myers. A promoter wouldn’t pay us and I was trying to grab that nigga around his neck and I had a stroke. I had a triple bypass and had to leave my job after 25 years. I was making $30/hour. I walked away from that on behalf of [my son]. Now everybody’s gonna piss on me and call it rain? I don’t think so.
I’ve always been by his side, to guide him wisely and gently and calmly encouraging him along the way. I’ll never try to take his manhood from him. I call all my sons every year on Father’s Day and on their birthdays. But I don’t get the same treatment.
I always planned to relinquish the management role in order for [T-Pain] to get bigger opportunities. I was gonna reduce myself to his personal advisor. “Call me when you need me, son.” I’m still there. My phone number hasn’t changed. I’m still available. I’m not interfering in his business.
Once he [signed the contract with Akon] I left it alone. Was I mad? Goddamn right. I was irate. In my first breath, as a man, I told him I probably wouldn’t ever talk to him again. In the next breath, as a father, I had to find out what made my son so desperate to sign a deal with a bunch of knuckleheads that were selling him dreams. But I did respect him for making a bold decision on his own. I asked him, “What the fuck is it about Akon? Did he catch you fuckin’ a rabbit or a fag or something? Do they have photographs of you doing something nasty that [makes] you feel obligated to these dudes?” He said, “Daddy, I can’t explain it. It was just like you taught me; it was like The Matrix.”
In [the movie] The Matrix when Neo asked the Oracle if he was the one, she told him, “Being the one is like being in love. Nobody can tell you you’re in love, you just know it.” That’s what Pain told me and that’s why I left it alone. He made an independent decision. We were business partners and he ran away with the whole business, but I’ve forgiven him.
I told Pain when he first came in the game that he was better than Akon. He did a parody of Akon’s song “Locked Up” and called it “Fucked Up.” Akon came to The Moon in Tallahassee and got booed because [the crowd] thought Akon was taking T-Pain’s stuff as opposed to the other way around. My son has blown past Akon by now. He’s probably accomplished more than Akon has. [T-Pain] had 11 number one hits last year; two more and he would’ve tied the Beatles. And y’all ain’t even seen the best of my son yet. That’s why I tried to be quiet. If I had challenged [his deal] y’all would’ve never seen what you see today. I stayed out of the way because I don’t want to destroy what I built.
I had to get this stuff off my chest. I’ve been in agony. I have heart problems and my heart has been hurting ever since I read that [T-Pain said I tried to blackmail him]. People are trying to play us against each other, but I never believed in “divide and conquer.” Akon grew up in Africa, but I grew up in the ghettoes of America. He doesn’t know the rhythms of this society and he wasn’t in the struggle here like I was.
I haven’t discussed all these things [with my son] because with the level of our energy, we’d end up arguing. I wouldn’t be heard and understood. I’ve cried a lot. At his show last year at the [Leon County] Civic Center [in Tallahassee], we got into an argument and one of the former Nappy Headz was the chief instigator. I won’t call his name out, but at that time, he destroyed the relationship between me and my son. I was hurt like hell. Now when [T-Pain] comes to town, I graciously honor him for his accomplishments and keep my old ass at home. //
Again, just in case you missed the disclaimer above: these statements are solely the opinion of Shaheed Najm. I, Julia Beverly, did not write this. OZONE loves Akon, Bu, Konvict Music, T-Pain, Chase Entertainment, T-Pain’s mom, T-Pain’s dad, the Nappy Headz, everybody. Can’t we all just get along?