Tech N9ne proves being independent and staying true can win in Hip-Hop


Recently Parlé Magazine caught up with the highest selling independent artist in Hip-Hop, Kansas City’s own Tech N9ne, to discuss his recent success, his plans for the future, and the motivation behind his last album K.O.D., his darkest album to date.

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Parlé: 2009 was a great year for you, you shared the microphone with the likes of Jr. Gong and Nas on the Rock the Bells tour, your album debuted at #14 on the Billboard charts and sold 30,000 in it’s first week, plus you got an mtvU woodie award for left field artist of the year. Do you feel you reached your artistic peak in 2009?
Tech N9ne: Not at all. This ain’t the peak, this is on the way up., you know what I’m shizzling’? It’s a nice plateau that I’ve made it too, but I’m trying to go way further, I want every household to know.

Parlé: For people that don’t really know your story can you describe how you come up in this game from underground artist, to major label artist to the number one selling independent hip hop artist in this game.
Tech N9ne: When I first started this thing, I wanted my music to be for everybody, cause I felt I was every MC in one. My music is happy, it’s sad, angry, confused… it’s drunk, it used to be high, it’s sexual, it’s everything. I got my first deal in 1993, but I guess I was too weird, back then I was rapping backwards and shit, (*starts spitting backwards) they didn’t know what to do with that. I got another deal in ’97 with Quincy Jones’ label, but that label fell to the ground. After I got a deal which Interscope that didn’t follow through, me and my partner Travis made the decision that we have to do this independently and let the people know what we’re on, Strange Music. We constantly just banged it in people’s heads, and it just spread by word of mouth. If it was 7 people at a show, next time it would be 50. Next time we came back it would be 300. We just got out there and rocked good music, campaigning… I’m trying to be the president of Hip-Hop. Next thing you know I’m touring on Rock the Bells with Nas, Damian Marley and Busta. To come from label deals falling through, to doing things like that. For the Snake and Bat Strange Music symbol to be everywhere, on tours, in the record stores, tattooed on chicks breasts… it’s a beautiful accomplishment.

Parlé: Back in your major label days, what were some of the strangest things those A & Rs used to tell you to change about yourself so you could sell?
Tech N9ne: (laughing) A couple things. One A & R told me “you gotta do that South shit” when I’m from the Midwest, Kansas City, Missouri. They wanted me to have a Southern drawl but I don’t have one I’m from the Midwest. One cat told me in ‘93 I need to sound more like Method Man, grimy like “Protect Your Neck”, that’s not me, I don’t do that.

Parlé: With a lot of MCs you could see that genesis in their styles. You can hear Kool G Rap and Rakim in Nas. You can hear Ice T and Too Short in Snoop. But with Tech N9ne it seem slike there is no father to your style? Am I correct in that or were there artists that you were heavily influenced by?
Tech N9ne: Me being in the in the middle, Kansas City , Missouri, we got it from every direction. We were listening to the east, we were up on Just Ice and Schooly D. We got in from the west, Ice T and NWA…we got it from rock.. We got it from everywhere. I’m a musical, lyrical, clusterfuck.

Parlé: Your infamous for your bizarre style, the red hair you used to rock and the painted face. Do you think you get the props due for your technical ability as an MC?
Tech N9ne: I don’t think enough people know. When you look at Pollstar which shows how much you gross touring, for hip hop you’ll see #1 Jay Z, #2 Kanye, and #3Tech N9ne. I’m #3 and I’m independent. I’m right there doing this with no radio play and no video play. Some people know but were trying to make it so that every household knows.