Image shot by F. Scott Schafer

Tired of T.I. yet? Hope not! Who knew he was gonna go on the press run of his life to sell, um, nothing. Wasn’t the plan we had in mind, but whatever. Our memory runs long. But Tip sure made his sensitive power statement in that soft-pink shirt on Larry King Live. Bet you didn’t know it was Akoo. Or did you, and I’m clueless? My boy Sherlen Archibald, from our friends at The Chamber Group, had the same shirt on recently at an Akoo lunch. The line has some nice items. Where is this going? Check the bottom of page 12 in the new issue.

I have always been against the idea of a king, a best, a greatest. The self-proclaimed King of the South disagrees with me. I agree to disagree. Isn’t it all relative? What makes someone the best if, as a fan, I think someone else is just as good or better? And can there really only be just one of whatever someone is claiming they are? This is a conversation I have in my head with Tip (while we smoke blunts and shoot pool in the back bar of his Club Crucial), not actually in person. Because I’m not trying to send him back to jail with a dirty urine. But also, if I try for a moment to stand in his shoes, I can understand how some artists might have to give themselves that sense of entitlement with a title in order to have the confidence necessary to make you believe. It worked for Lil Wayne, right?

With Tip back on the scene, after seven months in jail and then three months in a halfway house, he’s ready to return to his rap throne. He told Ben Detrick (page 48), “‘King of the South’ did not exist before me. The term cannot be passed along unless I choose to pass it along.”

July is here, and with that brought July 4th, our country’s Independence Day. In honor of going indie in hip-hop, we put together a special package featuring dope stories including one on NYC’s Duck Down Records, and KCMO’s Strange Music.

Okay, so let’s have the Tech N9ne convo. This one I did have with T.I., and he looked at me like I was crazy (“Cry Baby,” “Why You Ain’t Call Me”). Anyone who has visited the @XXLStaff office lately knows that Matt Barone and I became Tech Stans after taking a trip to Kansas City, Missouri a couple of months ago. I don’t really know what happened to us out there (between the intensely huge BBQ meal, hours and hours at a bizarre strip club, and a ridiculous rap show), but we discovered (that’s so disrespectful) this crew called Strange Music and this rapper who paints his face, named Tech N9ne (get over the paint, people!), and we fell in love (@XXLStaff just said “pause” in my brain). Neither coast, nor down bottom are really up on SM (this blows my mind now), but they got the Middle on lock.

I had heard about Tech and some of his music for years, but never paid too much attention (shame on ignorant me), so @XXLMatt and I went to KCMO to check out the scene. When they say a picture is worth a thousand words, well, check out the shots starting on page 56 and see what we saw. Like, really look at the pictures, and understand the indie movement Tech and Travis O’Guin have built out there. (Then read the killer piece.) Then, come back to and check out the gallery of extra shots from the Strange Music story. (I cannot explain how impressive their business is.) While you’re on the Internet, you might really wanna go to YouTube and look up “Come Gangsta Tech N9ne Live,” and click on the first link that comes up (orange jumpsuit in chair). I’m thinking, after that, you might wanna find out when Tecca Nina is performing in your town (he probably is soon), and go to the show. Because, if you’re a real hip-hop fan, there is no way you aren’t gonna be into his performance with Kutt Calhoun and Krizz Kaliko (@VSattenXXL with feedback, please).

Does that all sound like a heavy co-sign? Yes. Was that the intended purpose, and do
I care? No and no. (Shout-out to Stevie Stone and Irv Da Phenom!) Between all the Tech music, I’m catching up on and Eminem’s Recovery. I’m so stuck in the Midwest right now that my face is painted and I’ve been regularly speaking a mile a minute, in rhyme form.

With that, Tecca Nessa is off to meet the @XXLStaff and plan next month’s 13th-anniversary issue!

It don’t stop ’til my hip don’t hop anymore,

Vanessa Satten