Is there a harder working man in independent Hip-Hop than Tech N9ne? For over a decade the Kansas City native has been in a perpetual cycle of dropping albums, touring and growing his Strange Music label from an indy label to a powerhouse of rap. In that time Tech N9ne has built one of the most loyal and passionate fan bases in music. The Technicians and Strangers, as he calls his adoring fans, fill up hometown venues across the country to see their hero rock the mic in a way all his own. The Special Effects Tour, named after his next album which drops May 4, features Strange Music favorites like Krizz Kaliko and Murs as well as fresh faces like King 810, Chris Webby and Jamaica’s Zuse.
We stopped in to check out Tech N9ne’s latest tour in Bend, Oregon hosted by Central Oregon promoters “Random Presents” to get a better idea of how Strange Music planned on keeping there show just that, strange. Tech might be the pinnacle of the show but the all the acts in the lineup gave great performances. King 810’s sound came as surprise for the Hip-Hop heads in the crowd but they did their thing and if scaring people is proof of a rockin metal set, these guys killed it. When front man David Gunn told the audience “Tech N9ne asked us to go on tour with him and we thought he was fucking crazy” we couldn’t have agreed more, but somehow the metal/hip-hop transfusion works, and fans loved it. Murs, an independent legend in his own right, took to the stage with no hype man, no band, no jewelry, not even a dj. This minimalist approach would bomb for most MCs but Murs has proven over the years he’s not most MCs. The LA native got heads bobbin and hands waving with his collection of old pre Strange classics and his latest contributions to the ever expanding label.
Then came the headliner. Once again Tech N9ne proved why his show has become one of the best in Hip-Hop history. Over the years the venues have gotten a little bigger, the lights more colorful and the stage more intricate but the man still rocks that stage like he’s a starving artist. With Krizz Kaliko by his side, Tech performs his classic slumpers like “I’m a Playa” and “Einstein”. But not the type to stay stagnant, Tech has introduced a new dynamic to his shows lately. The Band Of Psychos are the latest wrinkle to the show and they change the dynamic of his whole set. Just as Tech spews his lyrics as hard and fast as possible, his live band smashes those drums and picks those strings with a ferocity to match. Of course Tech also performed jams off is upcoming release like “Hood Go Crazy”. To whet the appetite of his adoring fans, Tech also performed a shortened version of his hit “Fragile” with Krizz Kaliko replacing the hook of Kendell Morgan, while the crowd sang along. No matter how old or new the songs were, Tech didn’t miss a line and delivered each tongue-twisting line with absolute clarity. All while he danced and controlled the stage like a true master of the craft.
For the old school Tech N9ne fan, the Special Effects tour is filled with the energy, attention to detail, Caribou Lou chugging and TITTIES (yes Krizz, we love that album too) that we’ve all grown to love. After 16 years grinding away Tech hasn’t lost a step. His latest album has an unprecedented number of the industry heavy hitters on it and it seems the mainstream has indeed “Gone Tech’. This could be the last time we get Tech in the intimate venues, with a room full of Strangers. No doubt he’ll rock massive arenas with the same mastery he always does but this could be the last call for a vintage Tech show and if you’ve missed that decade of tours it’s time to go see what all the fuss is about.
Words: Rodolfo Arias @FiroTheBoss
Photos: Mark A. Macpherson @the541guy