Tech N9ne Knows The Plan To End Racism But Questions Whether We Can Follow It (Video)
Last Friday (March 2), Tech N9ne released his album, The Planet. It is a fitting title for the 46-year-old Kansas City, Missouri MC-turned-mogul. With platinum and gold singles now under his belt, Aaron Dontez Yates labored to create a bustling universe that existed beyond commercial radio, music video channels, and media coverage. He eventually thrived in spite of the naysayers—who scoffed at the botched deals, the face-paint, the angelic references, or the heavy artillery Rap delivery. Fittingly, Tech named his utopia Strange Music, a partnership with Travis O’Guin that boasts an impressive roster including Murs, Krizz Kaliko, and Stevie Stone. Although Tech’s assets now include state of the art music and film studios as well as a merchandise warehouse machine unlike any in the Rap space, he still devotes himself to doing what made him “a cult leader” since the ’90s: rapping incredibly well. That is exactly what this Planet revolves around.
Speaking with Ambrosia For Heads‘ Justin “The Company Man” Hunte, T9 unpacked a focal point in The Planet, “We Will Not Go Quietly” (embedded below). It is a personal track, as the co-founder of cross-country super-group The Regime has been a pillar of unification his whole career. Strange has become a booming multi-cultural employer with women, men, Crips, Bloods, old and young, from across the globe, working together for a common cause. In the just-released song (which the MC annotates), Tech addresses the divisions in people, and offers the remedy.
“We will never see racism done away with in our lifetime / When the parents’ hearts full of hate reproduce, then it’s sent down the pipeline / If their kids want to fight crime, and are taught the other ain’t the right kind / They’ll be terrified facin’ nighttime and the steel is the only light shined,” he shares in the interview, from the song featuring Jordan Omley, of production team The Jam (Heavy D, Santana, The Saturdays).
“That goes for Black or white, or any kind of race,” explains the MC. “We’re taught that it’s ‘us’ over here and ‘them’ over there, when in my mind—as an angel [shows tattoo]—the remedy for all that is togetherness, to coexist. But everybody’s always gonna root for their team,” he says, likening race to gang affiliation or even sports fandom. “There might be fights at that game. You ever hear of anybody getting stabbed or killed at a game? Yeah. Everybody’s gonna root for their team—some more than others.” Tech points out pride groups, nationalists, hate groups, and cultural supremacists who feel this way.
“It’s hard, because you want your side to be the side, the only sides should be getting love. But who’s to say you can’t love your team and only your team? And if you want to fight and kill for your team, you gotta face the consequences that come with it, mothaf*cka. ‘You gonna yell “Blood,” you gonna have to prove it one day, Tech N9ne,” he says, referring to the consequences of his own K.C. street ties. He mentions other openly-gang-affiliated Rap artists including Snoop Dogg, C-Bo, and The Game. By proudly touting their sets, or simply by association, these artists face adversaries. “White supremacists, they have to prove [their fundamentals too],” he says, comparing it to gang members clashing. “All soldiers, all over the world.”
Returning to his verse, Tech 9ne opines on why racism is here to stay. “It’s already instilled. It’s sad. Maybe if an alien life-form came and they ate human beings, maybe we’d band together and try to kill them, instead of each other.” His Planet track is about that togetherness.
“Jesus, not present when things seem so egregious / But if we just set aside all our differences and try to ease up / Off of war with each other, please trust, we can be just / When the hatin’ and the killings enough / Then the anthem will have everybody takin’ knees up,” he raps, from the song’s next section.
“The hating and the killing ain’t enough yet [because] it’s still going on,” Tech N9ne points out. “I see everything. I see the remedy. I knew that Martin Luther King [Jr.] had the God Plan. I knew that when Malcolm X was following the remedies of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad [and] took his pilgrimage to Mecca, he found that he could drink out of the same cup as a white Muslim and vice-versa. He came back and gave people the God Plan. And it would mess up that other plan, so they killed him. I know the God Plan. The God Plan is showing us that we need each other to help each other up. I got it. But I’m gonna protect myself from [those who hate me], no matter what race it is. It could be my race,” he says, alluding to Black-on-Black violence he previously saw in the Kansas City streets. “People like what they know, and what they don’t know, they fear. And what you fear, you try to destroy because you don’t understand it…I been dealing with that all my life.” He says, “People need to be together, but we been talkin’ that sh*t for centuries. It is what it is. So I say, do what you do to try to exist in this world and make it from day to day. Take care of your loved ones; make sure they’re safe to the best of your ability. And just be ready for the demons when they come. I don’t know how you prepare for a fight, but there might be a really big one, one day, that you have to face. You should fear nothing.” Tech says that in his everyday life he subscribes to that notion, fearing no man.
The artist aims to stay the course in his calling. “People don’t know that we need each other to help each other up…so I’m gonna do what I can to keep creating jobs for everybody, and keep giving beautiful music to everybody.”
The Planet features Snow Tha Product, Machine Gun Kelly, Krizz Kaliko, Mackenzie Nicole, Darrein Safron, and others.
Photograph by Dennys Ilic.