Tech N9ne is back on the road, touring the United States with an independent all star studded cast this spring promoting his most recent album, “Strangeulation”. The Source caught up with him during the middle of his tour in Bend, Oregon at the Midtown Ballroom to check out the scene, talk about his new album and see how his tour was going. To no surprise, the show was sold out as the tour was announced at the end of January, and properly titled “The Independent Grind Tour 2014” with Freddie Gibbs, Jarren Benton and Psych Ward Druggies.
The show began in typical Strange Music fashion with a supporting act from a local hip-hop group known as “TNC” out of Eugene, Oregon leading into Psych Ward Druggies adrenaline pumping act that quickly got the audience dancing and screaming for more. For a group that was formed in 2013, these guys are doing big things quickly and are definitely going places. Gerogia’s own Jarren Benton followed the energetic act performing with just as much enthusiasm and crowd response performing songs from his latest album “My Grandmas Basement”. Benton’s passion for his music, quick speed and rhythm along with good humor earned him the respect of the crowd as they stood on there toes with there hands in the air, chanting his name before he ever arrived on stage. With two previous hard acts to follow, Freddie Gibbs came to light and performed an amazing show, performing hit songs such as “BFK” off his 2012 mixtape “Baby Face Killa” and other sure to be hits off his recent album “ESGN”.
As the night went on, the #1 independent rapper in the world, Tech N9ne, took the stage over with fellow Strange Music artist Krizz Kaliko performing a plethora of hits from the last couple of decades such as the the 2002 hit “I’m A Playa” to more recent hits such as “Fragile”, featuring Kendrick Lamar, ¡MAYDAY! and Kendall Morgan, which currently has more than 5 million views on YouTube. During the middle of the show, Tech and Krizz showed some serious fan appreciation by pulling up a audience member on stage and wishing her happy birthday in their own special way with the crowd. With Tech N9ne and Krizz Kaliko playing more than 30 songs on their set alone bringing the night to a close with a surprise appearance by Kottonmouth Kings member “Dirtball” and the excellent choice in independent players, it is without a doubt, one of the best Strange Music concerts to date that you surely will not want to miss. We sat down with Tech N9ne before the show and asked him a few fan based questions along with some of our own. Take a look below followed by Strange Music’s latest video release for their feature “Ciphers”.
The Source: Recently on your tour you stopped in Lewiston, Idaho for a show where your performance received more than 70 police complaints coming from as far away as a mile and one resident saying “It was like an X-rated movie, only audible”. What’s your reaction to a situation like that?
Tech N9ne: My reaction is that if it really was like an X-rated movie but audible, I would not get booked for shows. If you move into a neighborhood surrounding fairgrounds where they’re performing concerts, you have to be ready for what comes with it, you know what I mean? When they ask for Tech N9ne, they’re going to get Tech N9ne. Your not going to come to me 5 minutes before the show right before we go onstage and say we can’t cuss, we rehearse these songs like “Whose got this mother fuckin house on lock, Einstein; Tech N9ne.” I’m not changing that last minute. You can tell me before we start the tour so we can have a clean show for those places. They’re not going to fuckin dictate what I fuckin say. If the promoter says its OK, then we got it, that’s the promoters problem.
The Source: When the police showed up to that concert they decided not to shut it down and let the show go on. Have you ever had a show shut down by the police?
Tech N9ne: Never man, because we do great business. No matter how potty mouth I am we always have people wanting us to come back. The police are never going to stop it because the police are fans as well. Now do I want to go back to Lewiston? For the fans? Yes. For the fuckers in the crowd yelling “Nigger go home” or “Nigger get off the stage”? No. For my fans I would go back to Lewiston and I would do it louder than EVER.
The Source: Is racism a common thing you run into while on tour?
Tech N9ne: No, I don’t witness it a lot on my tours at all. But in some venues that we might not frequent as much like this place. Last time I was here I had a talk with a guy across the street at a bar and he said “You know this is a white neighborhood here don’t ya, and your doing hip-hop here?”. I said “Yeah I know its a white neighborhood, there’s going to be white kids coming to see me.” Then he said “you sure white kids are coming to see you?” and I said “You’ll see”. They didn’t like it when they saw that big line, but they don’t know what this is. This music is for everybody. So, yeah we witness it but not a lot.
The Source: Speaking of venues, what is your favorite location to perform at?
Tech N9ne: I don’t know, it’s kind of hard to beat Roskilde Festival in Denmark with 20,000 people. We’re about to do Fiddlers Green in Denver, Colorado and I always love doing the Fillmore with a few thousand kids. We’ve done so many shows there, started from the bottom and now where at Fiddlers Green with 18,000 people, sold out. You know what I mean? So, Denver is hard to beat. Denver and Denmark, the two Dens.
The Source: What is your worst experience traveling on the road while on tour?
Tech N9ne: March 23rd, 2005. Coming out of a blizzard from Billings, Montana trying to get to Spokane, Washington while on tour with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony in our 15 passenger van with a humongous trailer on the back. We hit a bump in the blizzard and started going sideways and rolled like 5 times. Non of us got hurt and we still did the show but it was one of the worst nightmares ever.
The Source: Which artist that is currently signed to your label do you enjoy listening to the most?
Tech N9ne: When I wake up in my room I have all my artists CD’s, not really the package CD’s but straight out of the studio CD’s like ¡Mayday! If I feel like ¡Mayday! I put that on and take my shower or I’ll get up and throw in Stevie Stone or Ces Cru before they signed with me like “Playground”. It just depends on the mood I’m in. All the artists that I have signed I love, they are equally elite to me, you know what I’m saying? I get enjoyment, different flow and different subject matter out of all of them. I’ll throw in Big Scoob’s “Monsterifik” album and get dressed and listen to a bunch of verses we haven’t done in a long time. I don’t think I have a favorite. My favorite is Tech N9ne, I listen to him to death. If anyone else can get into the CD player, well good luck. Because Tech has so much music that I can [listen] to like “Therapy”, if I’m in a rock mood. Or if I’m in a dark mood I can throw in “K.O.D.”, “Seepage” or “Boiling Point”. If I wanted a little bit weirder I can go to “E.B.A.H.” which is Evil Brain Angel Heart. If I just want a cluster fuck of everything I’ll just throw in “Something Else”. It’s hard not to listen to Tech N9ne, there is so many variety’s.
The Source: Speaking of variety, every album you put out is so diverse from the previous albums style. What was the major influence in production of your latest album “Strangeulation”?
Tech N9ne: I told Seven [producer Micheal ‘Seven’ Summers] that we had to take off where we left off with “Therapy” and “Something Else”. That’s what Seven did, he just kept feeding me beats like he was feeding me beats for my album and I would say “Ok I want ¡Mayday! on this one, Ces Cru on this one, I want to get ¡Mayday!, Ces Cru AND Stevie Stone on this remix ‘Nobody Cares’ ” because we just gel so well together man. I throw my people shit and they bring it back, its wonderful. Very seldom do I have to say “Nah, I’m not going to use that man its not good enough”. I hate doing that but you have to do it sometimes.
The Source: Earlier you mentioned Big Scoob as one of the artists you listen to in the morning, can people expect another album out of Big Scoob anytime soon?
Tech N9ne: Nah, he don’t want to rap for real he just want to rap when we do an album. He’s like; “Man, these young kids don’t understand what I’m talking about. Its to much hustle, to much knowledge for em”. He’s a real knowledgeable dude from the streets. He could be on real time with Bill Maher and kill it. He’s an OG, he’s DOPE! Travis [O’guin] wants him to rhyme so bad, so do I. I mean he’ll do it if I ask him, like a song or something but I mention an album and he goes “ehhhhhhh, no.” (Tech laughs).
The Source: The Strangeulation Ciphers is a collaboration between you and the artists you have signed to Strange Music and is broken up into 4 songs on your latest album. Which verse would you say is your favorite of the Ciphers?
Tech N9ne: My favorite verse is mine, I’m the only one that did 32 bars and I can’t stop listening to it. I love it. Its not super choppy, its just me venting about certain things and having a chip on my shoulder that people rarely hear from me. I love it and I love my verse. I was just listening to it last night and watched the whole video and I was smiling because everybody had there own thing to say.
The Source: On this current tour, The Independent Grind Tour, you have Freddie Gibbs, Jarren Benton and Psych Ward Druggies by your side. How did that come to be?
Tech N9ne: I’ve known Freddie Gibbs for some years now. Every time I went out to New York he was out there so we connected back then, years ago, and got each others number. Every time I went out to Indiana I’d hit him up. He would always be busy and not there but he would always say if you need anything let me know. So when his name came across on [possibly] touring I said “Yes! I’ve always wanted to go on tour with Freddie”. I’ve been hearing allot about Jarren on Funk Volume and how he went on tour with Snow Tha Product and Rittz and killed it so I said “I think its time” and it made sense. Same thing with Psych Ward Druggies. Nick Cannon came to me and said “I think these guys got something Tech, what do you think about bringing them on tour”. I brought them to Kansas City on October 30th at our show right before Halloween and I met all the guys, they gave me some music and I listened and I went “Yeah! Yeah! Get a show together and we can go”. They got a show together and we’re all here.
The Source: Recently you signed MURS to Strange Music, what do you look for when signing an independent rapper like MURS?
Tech N9ne: Well it has to make since, first off they have to be a lyricist. Check! For two, he wanted to click up with ¡MAYDAY! and do ¡MURSDAY! which made so much sense, they make beautiful music together. I’m sure you’ve heard “Tabletops” bro, its perfect, it fit like a glove. That was the major thing we were trying to do. That was the first thing we said we were going to do. The second thing was him as a solo artist because he can do it man, he’s got the content and everything. Also aligning the other artists with his Paid Dues music festival, it just makes so much sense. We can do a Strange Music showcase or whatever. All those components made it a perfect marriage to me.
The Source: What is your personal definition of success?
Tech N9ne: Success is being able to put your kids in the right schools and colleges from doing what you love to do, and I’m doing it. I don’t look at it as being [on the] Forbes list twice, I didn’t really want anyone to know all that. But when your kids are taken care of and have everything they need and your doing what you love to do? That’s successful. When your still doing it after all these years and it still gets bigger and bigger, you get more and more successful everyday. Then you start to think about, how can I stay alive for this? Am I drinking to much? Am I going to kill myself? Are we going to get into a car wreck? I just want to enjoy the fruits of my labor and see my kids blossom into beautiful people like their doing, all three of them. I think when your able to give your daughter a Mercedes-Benz for graduation and buy your son out right a new Challenger and say congratulations and still be able to take them to the Caribbean every year…. It all has to do with family man, if your family is taken care of and your still doing what you love, that’s success to me.
The Source: On the subject of your family, in the past you have had your daughters Alyia and Reign featured on some of your tracks. Is there some future artists blossoming in the Yates family?
Tech N9ne: Everytime Reignbow sees me, she just turned 15 on March 25th, she says “I’m still waiting on my 16 bars daddy”. She’s so into dancing, she is a cheerleader now. My son just started rapping and he’s actually good. He can hold a tune and harmony. I couldn’t believe it! So, we’ll see bro. 19, 19 and 15. Wow!
The Source: Do you think you’ll ever put the mic down for good?
Tech N9ne: Nah, I thought I would but whenever I hear a dope beat I just have to go man. No matter how tired I can get, the strenuous schedule or whatever. Just something about that music. I’m going to FOREVER try and create something that’s showin out, you know what I’m saying? Its getting better, I just laid something down for T-Pain yesterday and I only had four bars to do it in. But I fucking murdered it. Its in my bones, its in my blood. I tell my fans as long as I have my brains, my heart and my tongue, I’ll be doing this. Even if my legs are gone I’ll still be able to do this. If my arms are gone I’ll still be able to do this, I wouldn’t be able to write, but I’ll still be able [to do this]. I feel like I’m going to do this until….well until! I don’t have a drop off. Of course I’m going to sell Caribou Lou and KC Tea, and that’s going to catapult me into something else. Of course were going to build sub divisions with Travis, were going to sell clothes. I got so much to do, Rob Prior’s writing movies for me to be in. I’m trying to lose my belly so I can get right for this movie. There’s going to be a lot of things happening other than the music but the music is going to live in me. I don’t see it going anywhere man.
The Independent Grind Tour has more than 30 shows remaining in the United States before beginning a separate tour in Canada. For more information about Strange Music and tour dates check out www.therealtechn9ne.com
Photos & Words By Mark A. Macpherson