Christian rapper CY has a message for mainstream hip hop singer T-Pain: "I used the Circus Ringleader concept first."
T-Pain's next project, set to drop in November, is titled Thr33 Ringz, carries a circus theme, and has been heavily promoted on music networks with the artist wearing a top hat and ringleader attire. All of this is eerily reminiscent of CY's Circus World Event: The Ringleader concept album and stage show that has been released and publicly performed since 2006.
"I'm frustrated and concerned that people will think I'm copying T-Pain when that's clearly not the case," CY said. "But he has a higher profile and marketing budget than me and I'm afraid hip hop and music fans are going to assume I'm the one that's biting.
"Our messages are completely opposite. I've strived to be very creative in my presentation of the redemptive power of Christ's sacrifice and the deceptive tactics of the Enemy to unjustifiably claim the title of 'Ringleader' over our world. God is the only true Ringleader.
"On the other hand, T-Pain's circus seems to mostly be about carnal living. I just hate to see similar imagery and presentation being used to spread such divergent themes," CY said.
Documentation of CY's "Ringleader" concept can be easily found on the Internet, including video of his eye-popping, circus-themed performance at the Texas Holy Hip Hop Achievement Awards in June of 2007. The event's packed audience included MTV journalist Sway and rap legend Special Ed.
"I've promoted video of that performance on my MySpace page for a while since then and interestingly enough, T-Pain is one of my 'Friends.'
"After his circus-themed set at this year's BET Awards show my cell phone nearly ran out of battery power with family and fans calling to tell me how much his performance looked like mine with the spotlights, mimes, and clowns. I've tracked down footage of it online since then and there are many similarities between the two," CY said.
This is also not the first time that T-Pain has been taken to task for borrowing from a gospel artist. In August it was revealed on MTV.com that Kirk Franklin had a sit-down conversation with the Auto-Tune Wonder Boy about his "tequila soaked" version of Silver and Gold that had leaked online. The song misappropriates the lyrics to Frankin's work of the same name that proclaims the worth of the Savior. In contrast, T-Pain's track laments the effect of mixing clear and colored Patron alcohol.
In the same article, he admits to taking other creative ideas he did not originate. The MTV.com piece states the inspiration for his "Can't Believe It" video came from TV spots by Apple computers. "I just came up with it man. I kinda stole some stuff from the last iTunes commercial. I got the same people to direct it… I was like 'If we can find those people to direct my next video, it will be the best video."