Beyoncé‘s loudly making her mark in country music, breaking records as a Black woman along the way, but the same wasn’t true for T-Pain‘s more private trajectory.

Speaking to Billboard, he says he’s long been a fan of and collaborator for country music, way before he covered “Tennessee Whiskey,” and recalls the reaction he got after expressing his desire to work with Carrie Underwood.

“The country fans were like, ‘She don’t work with j—oos. She has too much class for somebody like you. Why would she ever…’ And I was giving her props!” Despite experience living in Nashville and working with country stars including Luke Bryan, Toby Keith and Rhett Akins, the negative commentary discouraged him from openly discussing or sharing his work.

“Beyoncé is strong enough to keep it going. It’s easier for her to stay in it than me,” he says. “I’m not up at that level, so I can’t punch through that kind of stuff. So I kept doing it, but I just stopped taking credit.”

Now, T-Pain’s sharing more of his contributions to country music and getting his flowers in more public settings. According to him, Bryan’s said his name in several songs. Jelly Roll also praised his version of “Tennessee Whiskey” while at the iHeartRadio Music Awards in April and said, “Country music’s in love with you right now!” 

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