Tech N9ne & Krizz Kaliko, The Independent Kings

Tech N9ne and Krizz Kaliko talk their Kansas City roots, Kendrick Lamar and loyalty.

With the exception of Busta Rhymes and Spliff Starr, you will not find a more dynamic stage duo in all of Hip-Hop than Strange Music’s own Tech N9ne and Krizz Kaliko. Most hype-men usually serve as that annoying extra mouth-piece on stage that you silently wish would go away, but Krizz Kaliko has found that unique and extraordinary chemistry with Tech N9ne that gives an added element of power and energy to a live Tech N9ne show – so much that the two can actually be mistaken as a group rather than a solo act. Last week at Rock the Bells 2013, Tech and Krizz once again set it off and even made it hard for the remaining headlining acts to follow them. If you’ve never seen them perform “Einstein” live, I highly suggest that you put attending a Tech N9ne show on your list of things to do. And that shouldn’t be hard for you to do since they travel damn near everywhere practically all year around.

Before they tore up the Rock the Bells stage at the San Manuel Amphitheater in Southern Califoria, AllHipHop sat down with the dynamic duo backstage in their trailer (and out of the 100 degree weather I might add) and discussed their stage chemistry and independent success. Oh, they’ve also let it be known that they’ve got Kendrick Lamar’s back and that anybody who wants it can get it!

AllHipHop: We’re here with the dynamic duo, Tech N9ne and Krizz Kaliko! I haven’t seen a better on-stage duo since Busta Rhymes and Spliff Starr.

Tech N9ne: That’s what they’ve told us too! When you perform, there has to be a lot of uniformity. There’s strength in that. As for rhyming, we were born to do this. We were blessed to have been able to run in to each other. In Kansas City, so many people rap there, so it was crazy that we ran in to each other.

AHH: Were you two ever competitors in Kansas City?

Tech N9ne: Nope.

Krizz Kaliko: By the time I started getting in to music business, he was already popular in Kansas City. Him inviting me to be with him was like a huge honor.

Tech N9ne: That motherf*cker didn’t challenge me for sh*t (laughs)!

Krizz Kaliko: I wasn’t really like I am now though. I was cool but I’ve sharpened my knife since. Tech makes people better. He’s made me better. He’s made me want to beat him. It’s like Muhammad Ali having a sparring partner. That sparring partner will want to eventually knock him out. You just want to get better. The school that I came up under, come on man, rapping alongside this guy (points at Tech)? You better be good.

AHH: Speaking of challenges Tech, you recently got on Twitter and said that you had Kendrick Lamar’s back about his “Control” verse. You also basically said that anybody against him can “get it” from you if they want it.

Tech N9ne: Exactly. I know that Meek said something recently.

AHH: To you?

Tech N9ne: No. Nobody has said a thing to me. Don’t let a motherf*cker ever say something about me! I just haven’t heard what Meek said (in response to Kendrick) yet. Hopefully it’s not disrespectful.

Kendrick is my brother. He was on tour with us before he blew up. He was Jay Rock’s hype man. We made a deal with TDE and signed Jay Rock to put his first album out. Kendrick is a part of the family and you always have your family’s back. So, who wants what? Lyrically, can’t too many people f*ck with us and that’s why we’re so cocky with it.

AHH: Does that include you too Krizz?

Krizz Kaliko: His (points at Tech) battles are mine. Like he said, Kendrick is our brother and we had him on tour with us when nobody knew who he was. He’s a super nice guy too and he’s just showing his skill. When people started answering him, I actually wrote a rhyme saying that I got Kendrick’s back and to hell with all you n*ggas. I didn’t put it out because I decided that I didn’t want to necessarily get into it like that but if someone has an issue, of course we’ve got his back and a lot of other cats do too.

AHH: Do you think his “Control” verse was taken out of context?

Tech N9ne: Sure and it made them uneasy because nobody else is saying what he said. That’s what we are all thinking when we get on a song with each other – we’re trying to kill everybody. Somebody had the balls to say it. No disrespect, but I’m trying to murder all of you n*ggas.

AHH: Tech, I can’t imagine too many people willing to challenge you but have you ever had someone step to you for a battle?

Tech N9ne: Oh yeah totally, but they died after – lyrically – I haven’t physically killed anybody (laughs).

AHH: Have there been any memorable battles?

Tech N9ne: Vell Bakardi out in Kansas City. The other people I won’t even name because they are not important. Nobody in the limelight has ever said anything about me – and I hope they don’t.

AHH: What about you Krizz? Are there any battles worth mentioning?

Krizz Kaliko: Naw, cats often see me as a singer. I sing so much, I think people see me differently. We’re not a threat to anybody. We’re in our own lane so that’s why I feel that nobody feels threatened by us. Most rappers really admire us. The favorite rapper’s rapper line is so cliché but we really are your favorite rappers favorite act to watch. We’ve looked on the side of the stage and seen dudes like Jay Z and Twista watching. We’re highly admired by Lil Wayne. We truly are game changers and your favorite rappers favorite rappers.

AHH: Tech, I first heard you on Yukmouth’s albums over a decade ago and now I’m sitting next to the Independent King. You are the Independent King.

Tech N9ne: That’s what they say. But I think Macklemore has probably taken that title.

AHH: Well, let’s see how long he keeps it up. You’ve been highly successful for over a good period of time. To me, this is like your big “F*ck You” to the major labels.

Tech N9ne: Totally, it is. We don’t really need anybody because we’ve got each other. Everything that we’ve done up to this point has been our money and our motherf*cking blood, sweat and tears with no help! So if we ever do get any help, we’re taking over but we’ll see.

AHH: What are the key steps to independent success?

Tech N9ne: Touring relentlessly and merchandise. People are walking billboards. If you have a product that’s wonderful and you’re pushing it to the fullest, it’s going to spread. Real sh*t always shine and we happen to have something divine. We tour relentlessly! We don’t just do Summer Jams. We go to small towns and promote the shows. We still have street teams and grass roots campaigns.

AHH: Do you think a lot of artists are missing the boat by skipping over these small towns and just focusing on the large venues?

Tech N9ne: I know that they are and people dislike them for it. For example, artists will go to Portland but skip over Eugene or Bend. They’ll go to Denver but not Fort Collins, Pueblo or Grand Junction. It’s the same thing with Salt Lake City and Park City. We’ve done Park City, Utah. We’re everywhere. That’s one of the mistakes that artists make. You service your people no matter where they are.

Krizz Kaliko: Pocatello, Idaho. Who else goes there?

Tech N9ne: Exactly – off in the mountains in some little bitty city. We did a rave in the middle of the woods. We stood on a cooler, the kind that you put water in, and performed!

AHH: It’s a big sacrifice to travel so much. That’s probably why a lot of artists won’t do t
hat. It’s got to be a pain in the a**.

Tech N9ne: It is and you can’t tell a rapper who is used to getting $100,000 per show that he has to go down to $15,000 just to go to Europe. If you’re playing at a place that only fits 300 people, you have to take your price down. Yeah, if we play Denver we will get a higher amount then what would in a smaller Colorado city. You have to take your price down to go to these spots and that’s something a lot of artists aren’t willing to do.

AHH: You probably make up for it in merchandise though.

Tech N9ne: Yes, we do.

Krizz Kaliko: Whatever you got like album sales, that will translate in to other money. Record sales can translate over in to merchandising. Someone with a big hit will come and get his $100,000 for his show and then he’ll be gone, meanwhile we will still be there, coming around and continually getting that money.

AHH: Krizz, you just released an album called The Son of Sam.

Krizz Kaliko: Yeah man, The Son of Sam. I always say that it’s my best album whenever I release one because I always try to top the last one. I’m always genre-bending. I’ve got Country music on there, straight up raw Hip-Hop, R & B joints, Rock joints – I do it all and I did it again on this album.

AHH: I saw you two perform at the last Paid Dues and you guys had girls in the crowd taking their tops off.

Tech N9ne: We’re going to do it again tonight! We’ve got another song just for that.

AHH: “Arreola” was the last one. You guys have a new new breast song?

Tech N9ne: It’s a song off of Krizz’ album called “T######.”

Krizz Kaliko: Yeah, it’s called “T######.” Straight out plain t######. You ladies know what to do.

Tech N9ne: That’s a lot of control to be able to do that in every crowd. It’s hard to do it overseas but we are getting them to do it.