UNDERGROUND KING, a term that gets tossed around too early and too often sometimes. In this case here, the catalog and numbers substantiate the phrase. To date, Tech N9ne has amassed over 20 Million albums sold, on the path to building his Strange Music Empire. With the recent release of his Klusterfuk EP, and the continuation of his touring assault on HIP-HOP, Tech N9ne is the continuing to cement his name and brand, as legendary in the game. Mainstream is not the only way to reach the masses, and this brother is the epitome of that. I had the pleasure to sit down with him, as we parléd about a multitude of things, undoubtedly, all Hip-Hop in nature. Take notice:
Parlé Magazine: I read an interesting description of the meaning behind your name, Tech N9Ne; can you break that down for the people?
Tech N9ne: Certainly. Tech- is short for the term technique. N9ne is the Number of completion. A complete cycle, just like a woman takes nine months to bear a child. Nine is the highest digit, there is no higher. That is what I consider myself, the highest, the complete technique of rhyme. I was first given the name in ’88 and it was in comparison to the handgun and with my rhyming style, but we are beyond that. As I’ve gotten into numerology I began to understand how the true meaning fit me well. I AM THE TECH 9.
Parlé: You are originally from Kansas City Missouri, however most people tend to associate you with West Coast rap; how do you feel about that?
Tech N9ne: Well I can see how people would think that, as the first persons to put me out and co-sign on a broader scale were brothers like the Luniz and E-40; all from the Bay area, Vallejo CA. On a national scale the first time the masses heard me was on Tupac’s movie soundtrack for Gang Related. People assumed that all of the artists were artists on Death Row, but the truth is I was the only artist that was not signed to Death Row that was on the project. Sway and King Technique helped me get that as well as my relationship with QDIII and I was appreciative because I knew that millions would now get to hear me. But yes, I am from Kansas City, the first technicians were here in Kansas City, and we been putting it down.
Parlé: 2011 saw your Lost 40 Cities tour make stops here in New York City at the Highline Ballroom. In terms of your market, how important is NYC, and do you feel you have penetrated it yet?
Tech N9ne: Its growing and it has been for years. For years I’ve been coming to New York, and it gets better! The ground work is being laid and I feel it, the team feels it. Coming out there and getting the support from Shade 45 people like Green Lantern and Tony Touch supporting me. The show we recently did with Slaughterhouse and Ill Bill at the Fillmore was 100. Overall its a work in progress, and with New York being the birthplace it makes me feel good to get the love and support.
Parlé: On your current Hostile TakeOver tour I see that you have once again set the sights at 40 plus cities, I’m beginning to notice a trend. What’s the motivation to embark on that type of commitment tour wise?
Tech N9ne: I’ve always said “if you want to be the president of Hip Hop you have to get out there and politic.” You have to grind and show people you are real, genuine. You can’t be distraught if only 7 people show up at your show, you have to keep at it and keep coming back, building your fan base. We all knew Obama was not gonna be able to sit around and win, he had to get out there and touch the people. I remember the days of the street teams–the Steve Rifkinds and LOUD, when the Big Pun movement came through it was everywhere. In my opinion grassroots always wins. O.G. Muggz from Englewood always used to tell me “Hip-Hop is a contact sport” and I carry it like that to this day. Without the ground work a lot of the success would not have been possible.
Parlé: Alot of people are aware of the bond that you and Lil’ Wayne have developed. can you elaborate a little on how that came to fruition, and will we see more collaborations as a result?
Tech N9ne: Its funny Lil’ Wayne just hit me the other day just to check on me, and I of course saluted him as well. We’ve continued that since day one. Wayne is a good dude, when he was incarcerated I went up to Rikers to visit and we kicked it; from that point on I was convinced that he was a real dude. At that time it wasnt about the music, or anything like that, I was satisfied having met the brother and being able to say that he is 100. He told me that when he got home it would be on, and he kept his word, putting me on “The Interlude” on Carter IV with Andre 3000. For me that let me know what he thought of me lyrically and I appreciated the opportunity. When I went down to Miami to record it, it was an amazing family atmosphere, all real dudes.
Parlé: How is it working with and touring with MGK?
Tech N9ne: Me and MGK met on the set of the BET cypher and we were kicking it; we came to find out that we had a lot in common and I was impressed at his age and his perspective on a lot of things. He looked at a lot of things the way I do, and our goals with our music were the same. From that a bond was built and after the taping we hung out; went to eat, all his people, all of my people. After dinner we bumped into French Montana and headed to this club. They wouldn’t let us in due to the amount of people with us, so the homey French was like le’ts head to Queens. We ended up in the strip club having a good time, everyone, one big unit. And when he began to work on his Bad Boy project he reached out to me about a song; he sent me the track; I got an overwhelmingly sad feeling when I heard it and I put it on paper and sent it back. A little while later, I get a text from one of my peoples, my homeboy Fabian who does a lot of mixing for some A-listers like Wayne, T Pain, etc and he said “man I’m mixing this track with you and MGK” and I knew they felt what I put together.
Parlé: If people havent known prior to, they know now as a result of the BET Cypher, that your freestyling capability is impeccable. Can you tell us about that experience, and why you still prioritize being able to destroy a cypher?
Tech N9ne: Well I used to do the Wake Up show every Saturday with Sway and Tech and at that time you had to be able to freestyle at the drop of a dime, even if it was written you had to be able to. I’ve always known that I was hardcore as a rapper, and innovative: after all these years for BET to call me and offer me a slot on the cypher, I knew that people were beginning to take notice. You have to remember I’ve been underground for years, and the content of my lyrics and music; for a number of years they wouldnt play my music, and there were always talks about my name and how I should change. I never would. So for today to be apart of that and Premo (DJ Premier) to reach out to me and say, ‘hey they want you apart of the cypher,m here goes the track,’ thats a blessing for me. When Premo calls you know you got something. Now I got Premo in my phone under a name that means family and that’s how I look at him. Now I’m on the countdown, and things like that; that has never happened before so its a blessing man and we’re just gonna keep the momentum going and let the music expand.
Parlé: Klusterfuk is the EP, correct?
Tech N9ne: Yes My EP is out today! Its #1 on itunes and #10 on the overall chart. Its still growing like a forest fire, and thats what I want. People in the UK are checking for us, and my response is lets get it to the UK; lets get it to Japan, everywhere. What do we have to do. We just want the music and the brand to continue to grow. Its all been a big turn around since 2006, since we signed the Fontana/Universal distribution, its growing and we love it. My motto is “if you always keep it 200 you never have to say youre sorry.” We’ve done business the right way and its time for a return on the investment. There’s been a lot going on behind the scenes, but in due time it will iron itself out. We’re focusing on the music, and touching the people.
Image by Estevan Oriol
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