The Good, The Bad & The Strange: Artist to Artist with Tech N9ne [Interview]
Vancouver, BC – Originally published September 11, 2014 – Tech N9ne is no stranger to touring. Arguably one of the hardest working artists in the music game, he tours relentlessly to support his numerous releases and grinds not only for himself, but to showcase his talented roster at Strange Music. The Canadian West has been a stop on his tour route for quite some time and his fan-base in Vancouver is not only large enough to sell out The Commodore Ballroom on an annual basis but it seems to be growing with no end it sight.
We had a moment to catch up with Tech before his 19-date Stangeulation Canadian Tour for our latest Artist to Artist series. The interview was conducted by local emcee, Hungry from Vancouver rap clique Northwest Division and we thought the pairing was quite appropriate considering the growing attention set on Hungry and his crew.
We got a few interesting responses from the Strange Music boss on his latest project, his team at Strange Music and some of the big name artists he once tried to sign to the growing independent label. Check out our latest Artist to Artist series with Tech N9ne below.
“I don’t sign anybody that can’t out rap me. These are Strange artists and I hold them very high in the lyrical bracket, you know ’cause most emcees in hip-hop aren’t real lyricists but these guys are.” – Tech N9ne
Tech N9ne: Q&A
Interview conducted by Hungry for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: How excited are you about coming back to Canada?
Tech N9ne: I’m very excited man, ’cause there is always so much love, man. I can’t wait. It’s gonna make me lose weight we’re gonna go so hard. I need to lose weight after I have been working on this album for a couple months. I’ve been eatin’ everything, you know?
HipHopCanada: Lets talk about Strangeulation for a minute. What can you tell us about the process of making that project and the features you chose?
Tech N9ne: The process was amazing man, because I have amazing artists, man, they’re elite rhyme sayers. To be able to showcase them to the world and let everyone know that we wasn’t joking, you know what I mean? It’s a beautiful thing when everyone else agrees you know, ’cause we can’t be the only people on our jock. Other people have to join for it to be a reality, you know? And people joined.
HipHopCanada: Strange Music is home to a unique and diverse roster of talent. What made you choose the artists you have chosen to represent on Strange?
Tech N9ne: I don’t sign anybody that can’t out rap me. When I go sign Ces Cru I already know they are un-toppable. When I go sign Krizz KAliko I jus know that he’s un-toppable, and that goes for all of my artists, man. Same goes for Mayday and Rittz, man you know, these are Strange artists and I hold them very high in the lyrical bracket, you know ’cause most emcees in hip-hop aren’t real lyricists but these guys are.
HipHopCanada: Are there any emcees who have directly influenced your rhyme style?
Tech N9ne: The emcee that prompted me to speed it up, believe it or not, was Slick Rick. A song called “Lick the Balls” There ain’t no choppin’ or nothing in that song, it was just the way he was doing that toasty…like Jamaican toasty style every once in a while. It was like “Don’t worry ’bouta thing…” I forget what he says but that was what prompted me to quicken my style, and I just doubled and tripled it until it was like “ badabadabadabadabada” haha, you know what I mean? So yeah I give that to Slick Rick. As for people that made me wanna rap, Public Enemy and NWA and BDP is in there too. I love KRS-ONE, the old school, man. Eric B and Rakim, you know? Big Daddy Kane. BDK is in there for sure!
HipHopCanada: Word up. BDK was just here actually a couple months ago. He came for a night called SlowJam Sundays.
Tech N9ne: BDK was!? What!? Did you go?
HipHopCanada: Nah I missed it unfortunately, I was pretty crushed.
Tech N9ne: Aw man! Did people tell you? Was it good? Was it bad?
HipHopCanada: I heard it was amazing. It’s crazy how the guy is over 50 years old still killing it, tons of energy just absolutely bodying his set.
Tech N9ne: Haha! Beautiful.
HipHopCanada: Is it true you tried to sign Mac Lethal to Strange?
Tech N9ne: Oh yeah, we did. I dunno what happened. I think he ran into something else, you know? And I heard it’s working. So that’s a beautiful thing. But yeah, we gave him a contract and everything, yeah. We tried to sign Hopsin too. But they found their own niche. Who else…lemme think who else… Kendrick!
HipHopCanada: You tried to sign Kendrick Lamar?
Tech N9ne: Yeah! He was on tour with me years ago back when nobody knew who he was. He was Jay Rock’s hype man.
HipHopCanada: Crazy. Speaking of Kendrick, what was it like working on “Fragile” with him and do you two have any plans for future collaborations?
Tech N9ne: Possibly man, that’s my brother man, you know? “Fragile” was like…I just needed another elite emcee to spit after me, you know? And he is one of them, and he did a good job. I can’t wait to work with him again. We’ve done more than one song though. He was on All 6’s and 7’s on a song called “I love Music” before people knew who he was.
HipHopCanada: Word. I’ll have to check that out.
Tech N9ne: Yeah, it was me, Kendrick and my relative Oobergeek. Yeah, I heard his voice when we were on tour and I was like “dude, I gotta get you on something”. And yeah we did “I Love Music”.
HipHopCanada: Dope. You are reknowned for you live performance. How high would you personally rate your live show?
Tech N9ne: I don’t think nobody is fucking with us. I think Busta Rhymes and Spliff (Spliff Star) may be the only ones in our bracket. Redman and Method Man are not far behind. There’s not many that do what we do. And you come to our shows you’ll see what I’m talking about. I’m not just talking shit, bruh. There’s a reason why I am the only hip-hop artist on Knotfest – the Slipknot show that’s about to come up. There’s a reason why I’m the only hip-hop artist on the Aftershock rock and roll fest, there’s a reason why I do Rock The Bells when it happens, there’s a reason why I do Paid Dues, there’s a reason why I’m summoned to do these shows, man. Nobody does it like we do it. So how high would I rate Tech N9ne and Krizz Kaliko? The highest! Of anybody!
HipHopCanada: I saw you guys for the first time at Soundset in 2013.
Tech N9ne: Yeah, what did you think?
HipHopCanada: It was crazy, I was blown away.
Tech N9ne: Haha yes! See what I mean? Nobody does what we do, that’s why I say this. So I don’t put anybody above us, but Busta Rhymes and Spliff, they right there and Busta will tell you about us too, man. They love us.
HipHopCanada: How important do you think it is for an emcee to be able to perform live?
Tech N9ne: It’s totally important because people will come back if you do a good show, they will not if you don’t. So I think it is very important for an emcee to be able to move the crowd. That’s what MC means. Master of Ceremonies, yes. But MC means move the crowd. That’s what Rakim said.
HipHopCanada: At what point did you start to pursue music full-time?
Tech N9ne: I didn’t start doing it professionally until 1990-1991, but I got my first record deal in ’93.
HipHopCanada: What kind of jobs did you have before that?
Tech N9ne: My first job was at Blue River golf course. I was 14. After that job I started working at a place called Steak and Take on 18th and Vine. I worked there when I was 15 – 16, I got a job at this restaurant as a dishwasher but I quit ’cause I didn’t like the way they talked to us. Ran away from home at 17, and I been writin’ raps since then.
HipHopCanada: Strangeulation is the fifth album in your collab series. How many more collab albums do you plan to do?
Tech N9ne: We gonna do three Tech N9ne titles a year. A Tech N9ne solo LP and Tech N9ne collabos project, and a Tech N9ne EP with like 7 songs.
HipHopCanada: You are pretty active on the tour circuit. Do you have a favorite city to perform in? What is your favorite Canadian city to perform in?
Tech N9ne: The two Dens are hard to beat – Denmark and Denver. But in Canada…I love Victoria and I love Nanaimo, man. I’m about those islands, man. Real cool. There’s not too many places in Canada that are not cool though, you know what I’m saying? Montreal is off the hinges, you know? Vancouver is always off the hinges. Winnipeg got all the women you don’t even know. The women in Winnipeg man, it’s crazy. I dunno if you’ve seen it but I’ve seen it. There’s chicks in Chilliwack. Kelowna got chicks, man. It’s crazy. Calgary? Come on man, I did Rock The Bells out there. There’s not too many places in Canada that ain’t crackin’. But those two, Victoria and Nanaimo, wow.
HipHopCanada: Lets talk about Rittz for a second. Are you surprised at how consistent he has been or how much traction he has gained since you signed him?
Tech N9ne: Oh no, not at all man, not at all. We already knew that he was gonna go. I’m not surprised at all. We already knew he was elite. People just need to see my artists. And the more people see them the more they will do, you know what I’m sayin’? The music will always speak for itself, that’s how I feel about all my artists. I’m not surprised at all, I expect him to do more, and he will.
HipHopCanada: Do you follow hockey?
Tech N9ne: No, but I was down there when the Canucks were in the playoffs and they were partying in the streets – it was crazy. It was bumpin’. I was there for that and it was tight. People were in the alleys screaming.
HipHopCanada: What sports do you follow?
Tech N9ne: I don’t follow sports, I’m a weirdo. I don’t follow sports. I love the Chiefs ’cause I’m from Kansas, Missouri and I love the colours. But my brothers, Mac Zilla and Mugs, Scooby and Krizz Kaliko got me rootin’ for teams I would never root for, like the Seattle Seahawks and Richard Sherman. Or Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. But I don’t really care man, you know I’m not that guy. I got too much going on in my head, I can’t remember every player or who they play for ‘causd I haven’t followed them for all those years. It’s confusing to me.
HipHopCanada: What is the most frivolous thing you have ever spent money on?
Tech N9ne: Ecstasy back in the day. People used to give them to me in like bags of 60, I used to always buy it off this flower girl. I spent a lot of money on ecstasy. A lot of MDMA and all that stuff, you know what I’m sayin’? But I’ve been clean now for nine years.
HipHopCanada: Congrats. What made you decide to get clean?
Tech N9ne: I almost died of dehydration. 15 pills in one night. I wrote a song about it. I think it’s called “T9-X” – The Tech N9ne Experience. Lemme see, I ain’t never paid for pussy, so that’s gotta be the most frivolous thing. People say you pay for it when you take a girl out to eat or you take her to the movies and all that kinda stuff. If that’s the case then I guess I have paid for it but not directly. When I went to Amsterdam, I paid the girl 50 bucks just to ask her to fuck. She said $200 and then I just walked away.
HipHopCanada: Crazy. Well thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to talk with us.
Tech N9ne: Thank you brother.
HipHopCanada: Do you have anything you wanna say to Canada before you go?
Tech N9ne: Yeah man. I love that you guys want me to keep coming back. I’m gonna keep coming back as long as I’m walkin’ and talkin’. One love.