Rap star T-Pain is performing at Jacksonville State University on Saturday night, but if graduate assistant Ellori White has her way, he’s going to hang out with her at the mall before he takes the stage.
“I’ve been telling them this plan for a long time, and now they won’t let me go pick him up at the airport,” said White, laughing.
The sports management major and member of the university housing team has been a fan of T-Pain since his 2005 album “Rappa Ternt Sanga,” featuring his trademark auto-tuned voice and the hit “I’m ’n Luv (Wit a Stripper).”
His second album, “Epiphany,” yielded the No. 1 single “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’)” and another hit, “Bartender.” The singer also worked with Saturday Night Live’s comedy rap group The Lonely Island on its song, “I’m On a Boat,” bringing T-Pain into the mainstream.
Now he’s coming to JSU as part of Cocky Daze, the university housing department’s fall move-in and welcome party, a yearly celebration that introduces new students to the campus.
“Cocky Daze is meant to be something to ring in the new school year with a bang, and I thought this was my chance to do something different,” said Candace Young, the housing staff member who booked the concert. “He’s played a lot of colleges, like Emory in Atlanta, so he’s college-friendly.”
Matt Carroll and the Browncoats, a rock-oriented band that plays covers and originals, will be returning for its second year to open the Cocky Daze concert.
“When we played for the event last year, they enjoyed us and thought we were a hit for the audience,” said Matt Carroll, who both fronts the band and performs originals as a solo act. “They asked if we’d open for T-Pain and we said, ‘Of course!’”
Carroll says he’s reworked the setlist to appeal to a cross-section of hip-hop and rock fans, working in a cover of Lil’ Wayne’s “How to Love” that he’s especially excited to play, and the group’s most requested original song, “She Just Wants Me for My Body.”
For attendees that want to fill their bodies, local vendors like Kona Ice and Mad Hatter’s Cupcakes will be on hand, alongside franchises like Chick-Fil-A and Domino’s Pizza. Don’t look away from the stage for too long, though, just in case White has worked her way into the backup dancer crew.
“I started working as a graduate assistant, but I can still lean and rock and snap and pop,” White said. “I’m telling you, if you’re there, you might see me up on stage.”