Tech N9ne hits Knitting Factory
Kansas City rapper and co-founder of the Strange Music indie-rap empire, Tech N9ne, has sold more than a million records throughout his career and is readying to release his highly anticipated 13th album, “Something Else.” In this interview, Tech N9ne dishes on the new record, the Independent Powerhouse tour that is coming to town and the violence that is associated with his shows.
IJ: How is this tour different?
TN: It’s elite. Not just because it’s on my label, but everyone on this tour is highly lyrically technical. It’s truly an independent powerhouse. I don’t know who the local openers there are but they have to really bring it because with what we have going we don’t really need anything else.
IJ: Can you talk about the importance of the live performance in hip-hop. It seems like so many people are just concerned with recording.
TN: I wish a lot of youngsters knew this. I wish they had the teachers we had who taught us that you have to write the music to perform it. If you’re not writing it to perform and you’re writing a fast rap, you have to leave a breath right there because that’s realistic. I write to dazzle fans and show them we can do it live. The newcomers don’t really know and it’s very important to have a good live show. People will continue to come back if it’s good and they’ll buy the album and they’ll buy the merchandise. But if it’s not good you’ll be home chillin’ trying to make that next hit.
IJ: What’s happening with the label these days?
TN: I never thought we would outgrow our empire of a building we had over the years but we just bought another humongous Strangeland. We are putting together the studio and the office space is almost done. The video guys and editing guys moved in. It should be done by time I get off tour.
IJ: What about your forthcoming album, “Something Else.”
TN: It truly is something else. The content is something other than you would expect from me, so are the beats and so are guest features. Cee Lo came through with Big Krit and The Game on a song called “That’s My Kid.” I’m still recording it. People would expect me and Game to do something to let everyone know we’re from the same gang, but we’ve done that over and over and I thought I’d get him on something totally different. We’re both proud of our kids for not latching on to the negative things of our past, but instead the positive things like music and school. That song is a celebration of that. I’ll also be working with Macklemore and Citizen Cope. It’s totally different.
IJ: What do you think about the violence that is associated with hip-hop? You’ve even been given the nickname, “Riotmaker.”
TN: When Trayvon Martin happened there was no rap music playing. When the Oklahoma bombing happened there was no rap music playing. When Sandy Hook happened that had nothing to do with hip-hop. My kids aren’t building bombs or buying guns on the Internet because we were there as parents and we paid attention to them. My kids are 18 and 14 … They are listening to Eminem and Geto Boys and Scarface and they are going to college. It’s those who don’t know how to pay attention to their children. The shooting at the Batman showing didn’t have anything to do with hip-hop but they’re trying to put it on us because we can be graphic and our names are menacing.
IJ: When you come to Spokane you absolutely kill it. It seems like you sell out The Knitting Factory more often than you don’t. What is Spokane like for you?
TN: It’s a family affair, brother. It has been ever since we almost died on our way here on a tour back in ’05. We flipped over five times in a blizzard coming out of Billings, but we made it here and it was meant for us to be here. We could have been somewhere else. And you’re right, we’ve been selling it out for so many years, we get so much love, even the people in the businesses, they know us, at the hotels, they know us, at the restaurants they know us, and they show us love. It really is a family affair when we come to Spokane and we love it.