Tech N9ne is one of the most successful independent rappers of all time. His unique ability to blend genres is something that few can do, and none can do as well as Tech. Tech N9ne has been rapping since the late ‘90s, and started his label, Strange Music, in 1999 – the same year as his first album, The Calm Before The Storm. Since then, Tech has maintained his independence and largely avoided the eye of the mainstream. In 2011, Tech made a song called Love Me Tomorrow, which appeared on one of his most successful albums to date, All 6’s And 7’s; in the track, Tech says, “I told my fans, that, I told them this years ago/ I said Tech will never go mainstream, mainstream will go Tech.”
And, to date, Tech has only had one single played on mainstream radio: Hood Go Crazy, from his latest album Special Effects. This has only fuelled the fire beneath Tech N9ne and encouraged him to start work on his biggest album so far, The Storm, which is only a few months away from dropping.
I caught up with Tech N9ne to ask him about his upcoming album and Australian tour.
Thanks for taking my call, Tech, what you up to today?
I’m at my home in KC sitting by the pool in my jacuzzi, drinking Country Time mixed with Grey Goose vodka.
(Was really hoping he was going to say ‘151 rum, pineapple juice and Malibu). Sounds good. I’ve just woken up from a big night, so I’m not quite back on it yet.
What time is it over there, man?
8:30 in the morning.
8:30 in the morning, damn. It’s like 5:30 in the evening over here, dude.
So you’re just getting started?
Totally man, I’ve got a full day ahead, I’ve just been writing all day and just started this and I’ll probably go to the movies later.
Oh yeah? You been writing for the new album or a new project?
Yeah, I’m writing for my new album, The Storm. I don’t think I have the perfect storm yet, so I’m still going after 19 songs.
Are we still set for a September release? Or are you just taking your time with it?
Well, I don’t know man, I’m trying to get done, man. I hope I make September 9th, but it’s right around the corner, you know?
Yeah, it’s coming up fast. I’m looking forward to the album, even if it comes a bit later.
The track with Corey Taylor, Wither, is probably my favourite track on that album.
Yeah man, Wither is like one of my favourites, dude. I’ve been waiting to do that song for over 10 years and that song means so much to me; that song means the same to me as the one with Eminem. Speedom and Wither were a long time coming for an independent artist like myself and when the artists do it for no charge, that is a feeling that can’t be matched.
So they just did it to work with Tech N9ne?
Yeah, man can you believe that? (chuckles)
His phone starts ringing. Hold on man! Krizz Kaliko is calling me, hold on.
There was then a cool/ creepy interlude as I eavesdropped on one side of his phone call with Strange Music crony Krizz Kaliko:
Krizz, I’m on my Australian interviews bro, what’s crackin? I’m doin’ these interviews from now until about 8pm… I’m out by my pool. I’m going to go see a movie tonight.
Oh damn (laughs) – call me, man, call me around 8:30.
Sorry man, maybe I should turn my ringer off? That was Krizz Kaliko, he said he’s trying to get out tonight and I’m like dude I’ve already got plans.
You don’t think he can sway you?
*Laughs* Yeah, he can, he wants to go party, you know? But my house is the party house, so…
So he will probably just pop by huh?
Yeah he will. We just got back from The Gathering of The Juggalos. We did the festival the day before yesterday in Legend Valley, Ohio, and we killed it, that’s why I have no voice today cause I’m like (screams) “Evil brain, angel heart” – I’ve been screaming like that, you know what I’m saying.
It looks like a wild day, that festival.
Yeah man, its beautiful.
So your new album, The Storm – is that named as a reference to your first album, The Calm Before The Storm?
Is it something you have been building to?
Yes! I knew after Special Effects that me calling it The Storm, 20 years later, will push me to do the best music. And that’s why it’s taking me so long, because I’m second guessing some shit. I’m like ‘I dunno, oh yes, maybe, ah, no, ah, I don’t have it yet’ – you know what I’m saying? So I’ve got the first song, and I’ve got the last song, and I’ve got a lot of songs in the middle, but I gotta make sure the songs in the middle… are actually better than anything I’ve ever done *nervous laugh*. I’ve gotta do the best I can do, but I’m also rapping against Tech N9ne and that’s horrible – I gotta rap against myself.
You’re putting a bit of pressure on yourself.
Yeah man, you know I just can’t do music like, ‘ok we just gonna do this for radio,’ I can’t do that shit, I gotta try to stay here. I told people and my fans that I was Alucard everlasting. Alucard is Dracula backwards, so that means I can never die, and if I can never die then I can’t have no whack album that puts me down from the best number one independent rapper in the world. I have to keep that title, and that title has to go up, so not just the number one independent rapper in the world, but the number one rapper in the world, you know! I’m trying to be that, and it’s hard. I’m trying to be that in a world where music is free, because of Spotify and Google Play. I’m trying to do that where music is free and I’m still going, where some people would give up because their business can’t last through the peanuts that streaming pays as opposed to physical products.
And I love what the fans are taking in. We don’t get what we used to get since streaming has taken over. So what do you call the guy who’s still making the best music he can, when he knows he’s only going to get peanuts. That’s insanity *laughs* – but I love music. And when I started, I pretty much would have done it for free anyway. So we keep going because we love the fans to have something that they can keep forever. All my albums, if you think about it, like Anghellic, Absolute Power, Everready, like 6’s And 7’s, Special Effects, Something Else and all these albums man, they’re forever! You can go back to them at anytime. You can go back to Anghellic from when I first started and listen to Einstein or This Ring and be like, wow! Or you can fast forward all the way up to Speedom, or Lacrimosa, or Aw Yeah? (InterVENTion), and be like, ‘wow man! 16 years, Strange Music and he’s still doing shit and still current!’ That’s a beautiful feeling.
It’s the same from a fan point of view, every time Tech drops something, it’s just as good, most of the time it’s better than the last. You don’t stop, man, and we appreciate it.
Thanks, man, and you’ll know if I start slacking. I know I did a song called Slacker back in 2002, but you’ll know when I start slacking. I don’t want to do that, I’ve heard MCs do it before, not lyrically but musically. If you start slacking musically and start not wanting to pay for the beats and shit like that man, people will hear it and be like ‘eh, we heard that before.’ So I’m trying to keep people from saying ‘eh, we heard that before.’
You mentioned your track Aww Yeah (InterVENTion) before. How did it feel to have Anonymous contact you after you gave them a little shout out in that track?
It was the best feeling in the world. When you can see their power and you can see what they can do and their people, they chose me and I talk to them every other week. I don’t care what nobody thinks, that’s my family. We are planning something … and, you know, I am on their team, they’re on my team, you know what I’m sizzling. I have no fear because they represent love and represent trying to better everything. They want things that are just, not things that are unjust. And that’s why I am connected with Anonymous. When they have a problem, they text me, and say, ‘Tech this is what’s happening to us man, and it’s unjust.’ And you know what I say? ‘What y’all wanna do?’ Whatever it is. My kids are grown, they cool. So I can be reckless, I don’t give a fuck. Yo! Everybody I love from back in the past is trying to take money from me, so I’m being hurt from my loved ones, so I don’t give a fuck. Let’s go, if it’s for love, I’m going.
Do you think people are looking at you differently since the Anonymous contact, or do most people see the love both of you bring?
I don’t care, if you’re not with love, then fuck you, man. If you ain’t down for loving everybody, no matter their skin tone, no matter their religious beliefs, no matter their sexual preferences, no matter whatever, then fuck you! You don’t need to talk to me, I don’t care what they think. I haven’t heard anything negative like, ‘oh Tech is connected to Anonymous, da da da.’ They don’t even know what we are about to do, all they know is that we talked. They don’t know what we talked about, nobody knows.
Right! I tried to find some information out there to speak to you about, and there is nothing out there, like nothing, you guys have kept it 100% secret.
*Laughs a lot* Nobody knows. Only we know. They came to Kansas City and we met, that’s all I can say.
That’s awesome, I look forward to it, whatever it is you guys have going on.
Me too, man.
Tech N9ne got his name given to him by rapper Black Walt; he named him after the semi-automatic gun Tec-9, because of his ‘chopper’ style raps. Tech is largely responsible for the fast rap style becoming popular in the late ’90s.
I’ve always wanted to ask you, man, is it hard to write ‘chopper’ style lyrics?
Oh yes, oh my god. I hate that I did it to myself. I remember the world got a whiff of me in 1998 when I did a song called Questions on the Gang Related soundtrack, Tupac’s last screen performance.
Tech then rapped Questions for me:
‘Do I wanna stick em with another hit up out of abyss?/ Why?/ I’m at the pinnacle when I rip it I’ma kill em in this/ Why?/ Do I wanna stick em with another hit up out of abyss?/ Why?/ I’m at the pinnacle when I rip it I’ma kill em in this.’
It’s like I did it to myself. So now when anybody sends me a song, whether its Crooked I, or I do a song with Eminem, or I do a song with Kendrick Lamar, whether I do a song with Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, or a song with Twista, or I do a song with anybody, they all want me to go: *raps Worldwide Choppers* Follow me, all around the planet, I run the gamut on Sickology/ They could never manage, we do damage wit’ no apology/ Pick ‘em off the planet, got little manic ’cause I gotta be/ Frantic, I’ma jam it ’cause I’m an oddity).
God dammit! Do you know how hard that is to write? It’s fucked up, man, and when I’m writing it I’m like, ‘ahh.’
I just did a song with Mac Lethal, and what do you think Mac Lethal sent me? He’s going ‘bucka bucka bucka’ you know, everybody knows how he does. He did the Pancakes thing ‘look at me now’ or whatever, it’s like I’m making pancakes and he’s like ‘bucka bucka’. He got on Ellen for doing that, so what do you think he sent me the other week? So I had to go. I was running from it for months, I was like ‘damn man,’ I was on tour and I have to chop with Mac Lethal man, cause it has to be really elite. He’s one of those MCs where you just can’t slouch and I’ve never been a slouch, so when I was ready, I did it. But every time I get a verse or a feature with somebody, I am kicking myself in the ass. *Laughs*
If I was as cool as Snoop when I came out, like *raps slowly* ‘one-two-three into the four, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre is at the door, ready to make an entrance so back on up, cause you know we about to rip shit up, give me the microphone first,’ you know, if I kept it cool like Snoop it wouldn’t be so hard *laughs*. Everybody want me to go ‘bop-bop-bop’ but the thing is, I do it well. So I appreciate people acknowledging me, especially the guys that have been doing it long, like Twista, like Bone Thugs, to acknowledge me out of all the spitters, and there are other spitters that go even faster like, Twisted Insane, there’s a lot of them.
I’ve seen Bone Thugs live, and to see that style live is just fucking incredible.
So I really look forward to seeing Tech do it later this year. I keep missing you.
Let me tell you… it’s nothing like you’ve ever seen. You think you saw all the double time, and triple time, and quadruple time spitters – nope, not until you’ve seen Tech N9ne. *Laughs like a seal* Yeah that’s like the Revenge of The Nerds laugh; I can do it better, but I don’t have no voice, because of the Gathering.
When we see you out here in November, will you still be donning face paint? Or do you have a mask now?
Here’s the thing, this is what I can tell you. Nobody will be able to tell if it’s face paint or it’s a mask… People are thinking like, ‘oh my god, he’s going to be without the face paint, he’s changing, I told you, he’s sold out’ – no! It’s going to look just like the face paint and nobody is going to be able to tell once I get it. I’m just going to go on Instagram, mark my words, I’m going to be on Instagram once I get it made and I’m going to be talking, then I’m going to take it off. And people are going to be like what? I’m going to be like, ‘yeah! Y’all thought it was face paint.’ It looks just like the Worldly Angels face paint man, I don’t want anything different. It just takes two and half hours to get painted … and back then I had hair, so it stopped at my hairline, but now that I don’t have hair, it goes all the way back. So it just takes a while for what I want.
So yeah, nobody’s going to know, I ain’t gonna say nothing. Because people are making such a big fuss, like ‘that makes you Tech’ but what I’m getting made looks just like it.
Tech then started interviewing me.
Hey, are you kin to Ozzy Osbourne man?
No, I don’t think so.
*Laughs* How do you know that? How do you know that your ancestors don’t go back to Ozzy and them?
You know, we could be. I haven’t looked into it.
Yeah, maybe you can get into Sabbath shows for free and shit. (Laughs) I know I’d try, I’d be like ‘yo my last name is Osbourne I gotta go check this out.’ Unless you got married and you took your wife’s last name like Alex Smith and shit *laughs*. What city are you in, Alex?
I’m in Melbourne.
Melbourne, hell yeah! I’m gonna be there on my birthday, bro! What’s up? Let’s turn up!
Sweet, that’s the show I’ll come to.
Fuck yeah! November 8th my n***a, November 8th my n***a, I’m gonna be there.
I’ll be there too.
Let’s go, brother.
Tech N9ne will be on tour in Australia in November, so ‘let’s turn up’ to the dates below.
- Saturday, 5th November – Metro City, Perth
- Sunday, 6th November – The Gov, Adelaide
- Monday, 7th November – Prince Bandroom, Melbourne
- Tuesday, 8th November (Tech N9ne’s birthday) – Prince Bandroom, Melbourne
- Friday, 11th November – Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane
- Saturday, 12th November – Manning Bar, Sydney
- Sunday, 13th November – Manning Bar, Sydney
Tickets are available here.