Tech N9ne Discusses His N9na Album & Being A B-Boy For Life
Tech N9ne is one of the most prolific Rap artists in his class. For 20 years, the Kansas City, Missouri MC has fed his devoted technicians with 20 albums, handfuls of collaborative projects, EPs, and group work. Notably, every release from Aaron Yates is a mapped out universe and part of a direct conversation with fans new and old. In 2019, Tech is taking his faithful to N9na.
He explains the album’s theme and purpose in an interview available at AFH TV. Additionally, Tech pours out some details behind his partnership with K.C.’s Boulevard Brewing Company, professes his lifelong identity as a B-boy, and opines on how Rap peers always seem to take perceived shots at peers (who just so happen to be some of Tech’s friends) when he’s on a track beside them.
At 3:00 in the interview, Tech delves into N9na‘s concept. “Well, I did Planet last time, you know? And, after I built my planet—and people love my planet—I wanted people to get to meet the maker, N9na. It was a reintroduction for all the new fans that are coming in [and] a reintroduction to that bussin’ [that] they love so much.” Tech’s flow mimics the weapon it is named after. Consistent with Tech’s work since the ’90s is this rapid-fire, syncopated delivery. “[On this album I am] rapping like I ain’t rich, like I ain’t sold, not a near record platinum or near gold.” Even in discussing the 21st LP, Tech N9ne cannot help but break into verse. “On Planet, I was spitting. But this one is more personal; they wanted to hear me without a lot of features. So, me on the choruses, me [throughout]. They’ve been asking me for that for years, so I gave it to ’em.”
There are a few guests. Tech’s longtime right-hand Krizz Kaliko appears on five songs. Recent Strange acquisitions including Tennessee Rap veteran Jelly Roll and Maryland native Maez301 also take feature spots. Later in the discussion, N9ne breaks down being a fan of Maez301 for years before signing the melodic MC to Strange.
On The Planet, Tech N9ne released “No Reason (The Mosh Pit Song),” featuring Machine Gun Kelly. MGK’s bars later became front-page news when Eminem addressed them on Kamikaze. At 18:00, Tech recalls, “I didn’t think MGK would be that crazy to do that, but my ni**a has been crazy for a long time. I should’ve known. First thing he said, ‘You gon’ need a doctor / I ain’t talkin’ ’bout the one from Compton.‘ And I was like, ‘Okay. You gon’ need a doctor, not Dr. Dre. Okay, I get it.’ But then the ni**a said, ‘You just rap, you’re not Gods.‘ All of us think we’re Rap Gods…I’m like okay, it was plural. It wasn’t singular. So, Eminem said he heard it on my record, just like everybody else, and was like, Okay, that’s plural. He’s just talking sh*t. I’m not aware of these ni**as having beef after all these years [over a tweet about Eminem’s daughter] Hailey.” On “Not Alike,” Em’ replied, “But next time you don’t gotta use Tech N9ne / If you wanna come at me with a sub, Machine Gun.”
The Strange MC reveals MGK reached out during the late 2018 Rap media storm. “He called me he was like, ‘Ah, I’m sorry Tech, man. I should’ve gave you [something like a] Rap Genius breakdown.’ I’m like, ‘Nah, it’s Hip-Hop, dude. I understand.”
Tech continues, “I always end up in the midst of MC beef, and I found out why: ‘Cause I f*ck with MCs, but MCs don’t f*ck with each other. Like Joyner [Lucas] and Logic on “Sriracha.” I f*cked around and told Joyner, ‘Man I just wish [Logic] did the freestyle, man. Damn.’ It took him a long time to do it because Logic was busy. So he sent back a freestyle and I was like, ‘F*ck.’ I still put it out because I knew his fans would dig it. I still put it out. I was kinda like, ‘Damn man. I wish he woulda really went.’ And I told that to Joyner and Joyner’s like, ‘[Logic] disrespected Tech N9ne. F*ck that mother f*cker.’ Like, oh sh*t! I didn’t want Logic to feel like that. So Logic hit me like, ‘Tech are we cool?’ I’m like ‘Of course man. This is just MC sh*t. It’s nothing.’
Tech says this persisted in his Between Somewhere bonus song collaboration with Token. On video single “YouTube Rapper,” some thought the wunderkind MC was dissing Logic in the bars: “How many syllables can he fit within a second with no content? / Use your own logic, no comment.” On Instagram Live, Token denied the bars were a diss. However, Tech suggests something else that landed him in the middle. “I didn’t know that Token and Eminem were going back and forth over sh*t. And I noticed in ‘YouTube Rapper,’ When I said, ‘Why they gotta choose me to try to hoot to Mathers? / Guess I’m the truth and a boost to Zeus, who’s gasser.‘ I didn’t know that Token behind me [in the video] goes, ‘Ha!'” During the interview, Tech slaps his own forehead in disbelief and continues, “Oh my God! He got me again! It made me think that he was laughing, like I called Eminem ‘Zeus.'” Alluding to another implied “Rap God” connection, Tech laughs it off and says he operates strictly in the interest of Hip-Hop.
Speaking of the culture, at 29:30 Tech N9ne explains keeping Electro-Hop culture alive through records like “Planet Rock” and 2018’s “Don’t Nobody Want None.” “I’m a B-boy; I was in all the breakdancing contests when I was younger.” He recalls a few memorable routines and song choices. “In high school, I was a dancer. All of my homies that I danced with went to go dance for [M.C.] Hammer, and I stayed back and started writing [verses]. I was a B-boy before I started rappin’; that’s my era.”
He continues, “When I got on The Wake Up Show, and we did ‘Listen To The Bass’ by [Mantronix], that was my first nod to the Electro-Hop era.” He followed with 2006’s Art Of Noise-inspired “Bout Ta Bubble.” Tech reveals that on 2016’s The Storm album, he tried to pay homage to Kraftwerk’s “Numbers” with plans to feature OutKast on the song. “Kraftwerk said no; they don’t let people use their music.” Tech recorded to the beat. “I been doing this Electro-Hop [homage] since I started. It was just underground, so no one really knew. ‘Don’t Nobody Want None’ was when Tech N9ne was out front…that’s the big one. I don’t know what I’ma do next, but that’s the big one now. And that’s the one that meant so much.” Asked what grade-school Aaron Yates would think of these tributes now, Tech replies, “My adolescent self would say, ‘You’d better get on that god-damned linoleum [and dance].’ Look at what I’m wearing; I could get down right now. It never left me, and it’s gonna keep coming.”
Press photograph provided by Strange Music.
#BonusBeat: Tech N9ne’s “N9na” music video: