In 1985, Aaron Dontez Yates, was born in rhyme. The Kansas City native’s Hip-Hop journey started with a single step. Merging movement with rhyme, the B-Boy added lyricism to his creative cache. Three years later, Walter “Black Walt” Jefferson and a Guns & Ammo magazine helped to christen the MC that became Tech N9ne.
Time is a relentless b*tch. His odyssey has been an arduous one. An eccentric appearance baffled mainstream media. They ostracized Nina. Possessed by pain, many of his early recordings beautifully tell the story of a tormented angel. Baptized in his personal hell, Tech N9ne bore his soul. Exorcizing inner-demons in the booth, Tech N9ne’s musical genius allowed him to convert misery into triumph. The truth resonates.
Having partnered with Travis O’Guin in 1999, Tech N9ne co-founded Strange Music. He never looked back. Humility, hard-work, and a stalwart F*ck The Industry attitude has lead Strange Music to platinum-earned success. Today, Tech N9ne has become one of the most beloved MC’s. His supporters propelled him to launch the Hostile Takeover 2012 tour. 90 shows within 99 days is a historic Hip-Hop endeavor. Immortalized in rhyme, time continues to champion his story. While on the road, AllHipHop.com was granted an exclusive invite into the Tech N9ne experience. Upon his tour bus, which has become his second home, we begin:
AllHipHop.com: Congratulations on Klusterfuk.
Tech N9ne: Thank you, baby. Six songs—[quickly slaps hands together] like phueng! That’s crazy; you know what phueng means? Phueng, that’s like over the top.
AllHipHop.com: I love sound effects.
Tech N9ne: [repeatedly slaps leather seat and laughs] You like sound effects?
Tech N9ne: No, doubt.
AllHipHop.com: As it stands, where are you emotionally, musically, and physically?
Tech N9ne: Totally oneness with God, baby. Like, everything is aligning; you know what I’m saying? Everything is lining up. Now, if I could just pay off this IRS, I’d be perfect.
AllHipHop.com: Right, get Uncle Sam out your back pocket.
Tech N9ne: [laughter]
AllHipHop.com: How is your mom doing?
Tech N9ne: She’s better. She’s a lot better; she just got out the hospital a couple of days ago.
AllHipHop.com: Oh really?
Tech N9ne: [nods head] Yeah.
AllHipHop.com: I respect you as an MC, because you have the power to make words fit. As a corporate guy you’ve helped to make Strange Music a successful label. How do you feel about the 360 deal?
Tech N9ne: I mean, if that’s what they want to do. If they [artists] want to give them [record labels] everything; that’s on them. I don’t feel it. I think a muthafu*ka should have all their publishing. I feel like a muthafu*ka should own some percentage of their merchandise. Not all—I don’t think a label deserves to have all that.
AllHipHop.com: So, you don’t put it on your artists?
Tech N9ne: Nah.
AllHipHop.com: That’s what’s up. With you living on the road, and moving the amount merchandise that you do, I was thinking it could go either way. Is he a buzzard, or does he still look out for the artist?
Tech N9ne: No, I’m not with that—especially if I ain’t help do the work. Come on, man. You sign an artist and take everything that they build?
AllHipHop.com: Let’s talk sobriety. From what substances do you abstain?
Tech N9ne: Well, I stopped smoking weed in ’98. It made me paranoid. It made me feel like I’m not Superman. I gotta be Superman. That ain’t no jab at nobody who smokes weed, because some people need weed to function. It just makes me feel like everything is impossible. ‘Oh, my God; I gotta do this interview! Oh God, I gotta write this verse! Damn, everything is closing in on me!’ That’s what weed made me do. I can’t be like that. I gotta be like, “Everything is possible through Christ that strengthens me!”
I stopped doing Ecstasy like five years ago. I loved it. The love in that pill drove me crazy. I got a lot of love in my heart already. So, it was just me amplified. I was going to kill myself on it. Every once in a while, I’ll have a drink. I love to have a drink. I drink Cadillac margaritas. I drink K.C. Tea. On occasion, I drink Caribou Lou. It’ll have you do stuff that you won’t remember. But, I can’t drink before a show.
Tech N9ne: No, I gotta be 100 up there. I gotta be a 100% all water. For what we do—it ain’t like we’re just up there holding our nuts. Like at the beginning of this show I say, ‘Are y’all ready for this workout?’ Because it’s a workout; we don’t sit down! We even be working out the most on the party songs, don’t we?
Tech N9ne: [Krizz Kaliko approaches] Don’t sit on my sandwich.
Krizz Kaliko: [sits down next to Tech] Yeah, we sure do.
Tech N9ne: We get it going up there; so, we can’t have no substances [in us]. You know what I’m sizzlin’?
Krizz Kaliko: I did drink some Crown [Royal] before the show the other night.
Tech N9ne: [throws back head and laughs]
AllHipHop.com: What happened?
Krizz Kaliko: I was just on a little edge. My mom was sick that night. She was in the hospital. I just needed to take the edge off. [Big] Scoob had some Crown XO and I hit it.
Tech N9ne: It’s all Jesus.
AllHipHop.com: Anghellic is one of my favorite albums. Last year, I remember listening to “Cursed.” It finally dawned on me that you were talking about Hip-Hop. With words you have a gift. What I want to know from you is, have you rediscovered a track or album that’s had a more poignant presence in your life?
Tech N9ne: Yeah, “Cursed.” I’ve been writing so much stuff, baby. It’s hard to say. Everything I write is like that. In school, when I stole those psychology books, they taught me how to think differently. You know what I’m sizzlin’; I’m always going there. Recently, I got a song on Klusterfuk called “D.K.N.Y.” It ain’t talking about Donna Karan New York—different kind of n*gga you. I was trying to tell them that I’m not the same type of n*gga that goes down. I go up; I’m a different kind of n*gga. So, I’m always thinking to the left. I hope I answered your question.
Tech N9ne: [laughter]
AllHipHop.com: Your Hostile Takeover 2012 tour is underway. Given that you have an extensive body of work, how do you decide which tracks will become a part of your set? Once you get on the road, how often do you modify it?
Tech N9ne: I don’t really modify it at all. We do ours [live shows] a lot differently. We go into the studio, and we put it together into a computer and it runs. We set up where it’s going to stop; we got everything planned out. [The period] after the music stops, that’s the only time that it’s spontaneous. We’ll get to talking, or joking, and stuff like that. That’s all improv; but other than that, I’m a robot. We put it all together. Krizz always wants me to put newer stuff on the show. He’s always pushing me. So, if there’s anything new on the show it’s because he said it. I like to have the crowd moving.
AllHipHop.com: How long did you have to rehearse to prepare for something this extensive?
Tech n9ne: Oh my God, we’ve been trying to prepare for like a month, right? [looks at Krizz Kaliko]
Krizz Kaliko: We’ve been trying to prepare for like two weeks.
Tech N9ne: Yeah, but we’ve been shooting videos and shooting album covers. And sh*t like that. It’s hard to keep it going. We only missed two rehearsals.
Krizz Kaliko: But, for real, we’ll lock in [the stage performance] within a day or two.
Tech N9ne: [stomps feet] We’ll put the key in the door and lock that thang down! [erupts with laughter]
Krizz Kaliko: [laughing and stomping feet] And lock that thang down!
AllHipHop.com: [laughter] Y’all funny. Where is Brotha Lynch Hung? Why is he so ducked off? When is he going to come on the road?
Tech N9ne: N*gga’s supposed to be on this tour right now.
AllHipHop.com: What happened; is he locked away in the lab?
Tech N9ne: I hit him the other day like, ‘Man, you’re way too talented to be sitting at home.’ He’s supposed to be on this tour. I can’t remember, man. There’s so much stuff. I’ve been trying to get him out on tour; he’s reclusive though. He likes to stay in the house. It’s crazy. He’s good though.
AllHipHop.com: Is he making any new material?
Tech N9ne: Uh huh.
AllHipHop.com: Is it true that you plugged Kendrick Lamar with Dr. Dre?
Tech N9ne: No, I dunno why Nardwar said that. Put it like this, when I saw the interview, they said that Dr. Dre called after we did the show. I didn’t know nothing about where they went after we did the show in L.A. Maybe he was just connecting—you were doing a show with Tech N9ne—and maybe Dr. Dre called him that day or that night. It could be the only connection, but I ain’t never met Dr. Dre. Hell nah, I ain’t never did nothing with Dr. Dre. I’ve been wanting to work with Dr. Dre for years. I might work with him on this album; if he’d have me. Kendrick Lamar did that on his own. He’s a talented muthafu*ka! And Dre wants to be with the most talented muthafu*kas. That means that he’ll be seeing us real soon.
AllHipHop.com: It’s been announced that TDE’s Kendrick Lamar and Black Hippy have aligned with Aftermath/Interscope.
Tech N9ne: I heard that. I wasn’t sure if it’s real. Is it real?
AllHipHop.com: That’s why I’m asking you.
Tech N9ne: I don’t know.
AllHipHop.com: How does this movement affect your professional and your personal relationship with Jay Rock?
Tech N9ne: It’s all good. We want Jay Rock to elevate. Jay Rock’s on TDE/Strange Music. Black Hippy is another entity. I think it’s a beautiful thing. I think they’re the new N.W.A. I want them to elevate. Go n*gga, go!
AllHipHop.com: You’re still working with him within the Strange Music collective?
Tech N9ne: Totally.
AllHipHop.com: Would you ever consider going on tour with Snoop?
Tech N9ne: We’ve been trying to do it for years.
AllHipHop.com: What’s going on with that?
Tech N9ne: We were supposed to do six weeks, but our schedules won’t align. We’re supposed to a show in Kansas City, [Missouri] on July 7. But he’s already scheduled to go to Europe. That’s my homeboy; we’re going to do it.
AllHipHop.com: It’s something we can look forward to?
Tech N9ne: Totally.
AllHipHop.com: Will you bring Lynch?
Tech N9ne: I hope so. Why, ‘cause they Crips?
AllHipHop.com: [laughter] Why are you giving me the blues?
Tech N9ne: Why, why, Lynch? Why couldn’t it be Jay Rock?
AllHipHop.com: You donkey, leave me alone! [laughter]
Tech N9ne: It’s all good. We got love for Crips.
AllHipHop.com: Until the next time, is there anything else you would like to share with the good folks at AllHipHop?
Tech N9ne: Yes, I would like to share this with AllHipHop. ¡MAYDAY!’s album just came out. On Twitter, Take Me To Your Leader has been trending like a muthafu*ka. It’s a beautiful album; I can’t stop playing it. I’m not just saying this because they’re on my label. Before, I’ve had some sh*t on my label that I wouldn’t play for sh*t.
AllHipHop.com: Then why was it on your label?
Tech N9ne: Sometimes we do favors.
AllHipHop.com: Well, if that’s the case. I—
Tech N9ne: We don’t do favors no more. [laughter] We’re done doing that punk sh*t. Sorry. Take Me To Your Leader, I stand behind it. Krizz Kaliko, I stand behind Kicking and Screaming. On May 15, it’s going to be a murderous album. Kutt Kalhoun is doing his tour right now. Book that n*gga! We’re moving, baby. And, I’m looking for beats for my album that’s supposed to come out on October 30.