Tech N9ne Talks His ‘Therapy’ EP, ‘Sex and the City’ & Dancing for MC Hammer [Exclusive Interview]
Last month, Kansas City MC Tech N9ne took his Something Else tour to Atlanta’s Masquerade concert venue to perform his catalog of songs before a throng of anticipating fans. His warm tone and calm demeanor before the show was a much-needed moment of peace and reflection -- something his fan base rarely sees.
In fact, during this time the Strange Music founder may just kick back and watch a little TV. Exactly what he watches is sure to come as surprise to his dedicated supporters.
“People would be surprised to know that I watch ‘Sex and the City,’ ‘The L Word’ and ‘Girls,’” he tells The Boombox with a guffaw. “I like women, why wouldn’t I like all those? What they did with ‘Girls’ was so wonderful, I wish I could’ve caught every episode. I think I did catch all the ‘Sex and the City’ episodes, including the movies. ‘The L Word,’ I couldn’t wait for that s--- to come on.”
There isn’t much time for indulging in sitcoms while Tech is on the road. He's busy promoting a new album -- his ‘Something Else’ LP dropped at the end of July, landing at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 charts. The project boasts appearances from a number of mainstream artists including T-Pain and B.o.B.
Listen to Tech N9ne's 'See Me' feat. B.o.B. & Wiz Khalifa
The fact that Tech switches thing up on his latest comes as sort of a surprise to his fans that have held steadfast to his underground appeal. To this notion, the rapper doesn’t bat an eyelash. “My fans don’t be wanting me to f--- with mainstream artists or whatever,” he says flippantly. “But I’m like, ‘Man, I’ll f--- with whoever the f--- I want to!’ You know what I’m sizzlin’? Whoever I respect!”
“Yeah, I’ma work with Kanye,” he adds. “I’ma try my damndest. Yes, I’ma do a song with Jay Z. Yes, some of my fans are gonna be upset, but we’re gonna make beautiful Strange Music muhf---ers, it don’t matter, I’m an artist!”
As the conversation goes on, Tech seems to be feeding off the energy and the buzz of the waiting fans just outside his Stagecoach. “I feel like I’m 19,” he shares excitedly. “If you come to my shows, you’ll see it. It’s crazy as f--- how charged I am!”
The 42-year-old is a firecracker when the spotlight is on. And although he’s been on his best behavior for years, flaunting a hard-earned “eight pack” as recently as two years ago, Tech admits to falling off the fitness wagon a bit these days.
“I’m totally out of shape,” the ‘I’m Not A Saint’ creator admits with a laugh. “I’ve been drinking liquor straight all tour. Smoked a little weed on this tour -- I stopped smoking in ‘98. But it’s certain places you go, where it’s legal, like in Colorado I’m smoking onstage. Something’s happening to me and I don’t know what it is, but if I don’t stop I’ma be fat!”
“After my last tour, I bought all these little ass Gucci shirts, Burberry shirts," he continues. "I was wearing them all in the videos and everything. I’m like, ‘Look at me n---- in all these little bitty ass Gucci shirts!’ It was wonderful. Now I can’t fit them muhf---ers when I get home.”
Listen to Tech N9ne's 'Public School'
Tiny shirts or not, his fans know that the rapper is sure to give them a real show when he gets on the mic. Tech has an unyielding level of dedication to his supporters and they love him right back -- although sometimes simple situations can escalate to chaos if one isn’t careful.
In 2011, while on his All 6’s & 7’s tour run, his tourmate, TDE’s Jay Rock, lost his hypeman after a group of men ran up to the tour buses and fired several shots. “It’s f---ed up,” he says in a somber tone. “It’s f---ed up but this is what we asked for. You put this music out and people love and adore you. You make one wrong move and some of these people would kill you. Upset somebody fanatical and they might kill you.”
As aggressive as Tech tends to be on wax, after speaking to him, it’s clear that he doesn’t wear that emotion all day long. Even with this "horrorcore" box that he’s been forced into, the rhymer is hard-pressed to understand why he’s there. “It’s gotta be black folks saying that,” he ponders aloud. “People that might not know what I do. They might just look at the imagery from my albums and think it’s just some horrorcore s---.”
“Like, ‘This is a n---- with some fire on his head,’” he elaborates. “But it’s doesn’t actually mean evil things, it’s just what I dreamt. It’s not the norm when it comes to hip-hop -- something that artistic can be taken as something horrific. Yes, I do love horror movies, but my life ain’t no f---in' movie.”
No, Tech N9ne’s life isn’t a movie, but he’s made his accomplishments something to aspire to. As a businessman, he knows that you’ve got to keep things fresh and new, which is why he ventures outside of his trademark spitfire rap with the release of his first rock EP, ‘Therapy.' “I always wanted to do a full-on rock project,” he states. “My fans have been waiting on it for years because we’ve been promising them.”
“We were inspired by the Doors,” Tech continues. “If I wasn’t a fan of the Doors and Jim Morrison’s music, I never would have called my label Strange Music. So I’ve always had a rock edge, but this is my first full-on rock project.”
Collaborating with rock producer Ross Robinson and Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland, Tech says that ‘Therapy’ shows a more vulnerable side. “[Robinson] became my therapist,” the goatee-sporting lyricist shares. “My psychiatrist... I’m usually my own psychatrist because that’s what I wanted to do before I started rapping. I wanted to help people and understand people.”
“I did something that I told people around me never to do, which was, pay a psychiatrist,” he says, laughing. “Why pay a psychiatrist when you can just come to me? I can help you with something going on in your life, even if I know nothing about you, I can possibly help you. That’s just me being cocky like I am. I got with Ross Robinson because I knew that it would be like a therapy session. He has a way of pulling things out of me that I didn’t know I had.”
If 'Therapy' proves to be successful, Tech says he has every intention of keeping it going. “If they like this one, if the majority says, 'Yeah,’ then I’ll keep doing ‘em,” he says simply. “But if they don’t like it and my fans want me to just stick to being Tech N9ne then I’ll just do that. And if I morph into doing something else, then I’ll do that. I’m a builder. I build ideas and give them to the people and they receive them in such a wonderful way. Fourteen years and it’s still on the incline -- it’s incredible.”
Now that he's going the rock route, he already has another genre he'd like to experiment with. “Possibly electronic dance, maybe, I dunno,” he shares. “Something with trap in it. Like trap and dubstep maybe. Like, motherf---er Tech N9ne and Afrojack or Tech N9ne and [X-Vision]. Strong ass s---, not no punk ass s---."
Those sounds would definitely be something that the former dancer could move to. Tech admits that it’s just another thing he loves to do. “All the guys I was with [before I started rapping]? We used to dance for Hammer. With rhythm came rhyme, if you see me at my shows all that s--- comes out. I’m still popping and moving -- I do it all the time. I even used to breakdance on the E-40 Independent Grind Tour. I put down that linoleum and spun on my back, up rock and everything in front of thousands. I ain’t ashamed.”
“I’m one of them n----s like, ‘We did Michael Jackson onstage, baby,”’ he says, energy climbing. “Hardcore, gang bang n----s doing Michael Jackson, ‘cause we love that n----. It ain’t nothing too cool. We different though. Every n---- can’t get up there, do Michael Jackson and be cool with it, you know.”
Unpolished, unapologetic, Tech N9ne is very aware of what’s expected of him and his Strange Music imprint, but he refuses to follow a blueprint. “That’s why it’s been so hard for me to break through,” he discloses. “Because motherf---ers just want you to do one thing and abuse it, so they can make money and you’re doing that one thing until it goes out of style.”
“I’m never gonna go outta style though," he affirms. "I’m gonna stop at the top.”
Watch the Behind-the-Scenes for Tech N9ne's 'Therapy' EP