Tech N9ne has conquered hip-hop on his own terms. As the mastermind behind the indie juggernaut Strange Music, Tech has created his empire through hard work and passion for an original sound. Much like heavyweight cliques like YMCMB and MMG, the Kansas City native has found his place in hip-hop with Strange, where he continues to earn respect for his contributions. Not many can say they have reached their 13th studio album, but with Tech, he's equally determined to prove that Something Else is the best project in his catalogue yet.

On July 30, Something Else will hit stores, complete with guest appearances from artists such as The Doors, Wiz Khalifa, T-Pain, Kendrick Lamar and Cee-Lo Green, as well as his labelmates Krizz Kaliko, Big Scoob, Rittz, Kutt Calhoun and ¡Mayday! In anticipation of the LP, XXL spent some time with Tech to get a feel for what he’s been cooking up since his Welcome To Strangeland collabos. We already heard a good amount of the album at his listening session in New York City, but we wanted to go deeper. During our sitdown, Tech speaks on his artistic growth (the flow is definitely tighter), his relationship with the media, his collaboration with Danny Brown and plenty more.—Eric Diep (@E_Diep)


XXL: You still have things to talk about on Something Else. To me, that’s the definition of a true artist.
Tech N9ne: That’s because I’ve done a lot of dirt [laughs], and I haven’t let loose all of it. And on this album, on songs like “I’m Not A Saint,” I let loose some stuff my friends didn’t know, dog. I had to put an apology at the end of the song. I’m a new dude now. And when I think about me back then I’m like, “Damn, I did a lot of dirt to people,” and the fact that good things are happening to me, maybe I’ve done my time by losing my family but still connected with my family love-wise. And, you know, going through a lot of the hardships I went through, maybe that was karma for everything I did to the people in my past. I don’t know.

So with “I’m Not A Saint,” you wanted to get those emotions out there?
Yeah, I had to, man. There were things going on at home, like in my love circle, and it all pointed back to, “It’s your fault Tech. This is why it’s not happening. It’s your fault for what you did.” And I’m like, “Oh, really? I’m the nigga in the middle tryna make everybody happy and now it’s my fault? Okay, I take it. I’m not a saint then fuck it,” you know what I’m saying? And so that song inspired me to write things that I wouldn’t really say or wouldn’t hone up to, like, "Animosity surround me / And it's all because I found me / How deceptive can the clown be / Enough to leave frowns upon the face of those who found me / So much evil in my mind state / Many think that they can define Yates / But cannot tame the wicked primate / Who preach his sinful thoughts and lead the listeners on blind faith."

And then I say, "I didn't mean to hurt a soul here / But my inner demon has no fear / Of making choices that'll make you pour tears / Black transparent flies show me that the soul's near / I see 'em then they disappear quickly / 'Cause this be some other shadows signaling the sickly / Forgive me, good people, I gotta let them know before they pick me." I am telling them I am not a saint.

The flow is getting tighter. It’s not thrown together. Of all the 1000 comments I’ve been getting, one is when I got to bed last night on Twitter... This dude said, "I’m disgusted with Tech N9ne. 'Dwamn' sounds like a three-year-old or five-year-old wrote it." I hit him back before I went to bed and I said, "I like my song ‘Dwamn.’ It’s not supposed to be intricate. It’s supposed to be a song that drunk people can sing and a five-year-old could repeat. Laugh out loud." That's what it's for. It's not for you to sit down and try to decode it

It’s letting you know that I am not slacking. I know you want me to do that through the whole album. I would never do the whole chopper album. It’s boring as fuck to me. It’s hard to do. But I am going to do one every once in awhile. Like, “Worldwide Choppers” and shit. My style, even when I am rapping slow, somehow a chopper part will be in there. You know what I am saying? Like, “B.I.T.C.H.” It goes: "Puttin' all the face paint I can put on / Put my black jeans and black hood on / That's your TV I just stood on / With a faded habit this brother swerves when I sip vodka / I'm the latest rabbit, in other words; I'm a hip-hopper / You disc jockers never played me, you said my shit stopped ya 2001, I mixed opera now every cliques' got the / Sick caca with lots of rippin' about they chips, oughta / Listen to this quick chopper flippin' and poppin' / With the spirit of 'Pac and Big Poppa!" It comes through! I let them know it’s gonna come every once in a while. So, my style is always going to have that in it. When it requires it.


You divided [the album] into three sections with fire, water and Earth. What about “Love 2 Dislike Me?” Where does that fit? 
It’s because of life experiences. You got somebody you love, infidelity happens, they stay instead of leave. But you stay and you just talk shit the whole time to where it gets old. I don’t give a fuck if I fucked somebody else, you stayed. You stayed. So we’re gonna go through hell for the rest of our lives? I’d rather do bad my damn fucking myself. You’re still here, you must love to dislike me, you know what I’m saying?

It’s like, “You point out all my imperfections but yet you stay. It’s nerve wrecking, I can’t live this way.” You know what I’m saying. Man is imperfect, so are women. Human beings is imperfect. So things happen. You stayed after I did some crazy shit, you must love to dislike me and I don’t like that shit. [Laughs] Tyler Lyon sang the hell out of that. “[Sings] What did you ever see in me? Was I all you wanted me to be? Oh. Now I’m running away from your judgment. Don’t you try to find me. I won’t let you change me. Anyway.” You know, it’s like Lynyrd Skynyrd was saying there’s birds you’ll never change. I’m a free bird, sorry and shit.


“Fragile” was originally ¡Mayday!’s song, but they let you have it.
Man, when they played it for me, I was like, “What’s that one?” They said, “Just something we did.” I’m like, “[Gasps] Can I have that one?” They said, “Yeah. Are you sure? That one?” “Yes man.” I’m like, “Fuck it.” Just went through that thing. Have to pay dues. LA Weekly saying redundant and gimmicky. You can’t say those two words about TechN9ne without me coming back saying something. Like explain that. What’s redundant about me? You have to explain it. You could say the face paint and the transparent mask is gimmicky, that’s what you want. I’d rather, I wish I could say that other than I’m just a psycho in my brain forreal and ya don’t know because I’m a nice guy and it seeps through sometimes. The face paint ain’t psycho to me. That’s something I became fond of after being afraid of clowns over the years. The home boy Bryan Denis painted my face that I wear. It makes me feel like a superhero when I got it on.

But people think that I wear it to get attention; it could mean that too, because I wanted to be different when I was younger so I made my hair different. I fucked my hair up and colored it red. I wanted people to see me so they’d hear me. So when people are like, “Oh he just want to be seen”—so? Who the fuck don’t want to be seen? I don’t wanna be the norm. And you got these motherfucking niggas talking shit like he’s a sucker, you know, he painted his face like a bitch and I look more like my ancestors, you motherfucker. That’s how I feel. So people gonna always think it’s a gimmick, but when I had on the transparent mask the other day on Hard Knock TV, people were saying on HipHopDX, “He’s not a gimmick but he got on a plastic mask.” A gimmick is something you use to get money—I’m in a fucking interview. Where I'ma get money from that? You know what I’m saying? This is me being in the middle of fucking L.A., walking down Venice Beach with a transparent mask on. Little kids are looking at me and shit. I feel normal though. Halloween is my favorite holiday. It’s something kooky and weird about me that makes me want to do that. I can’t fight it. It tickles me when people laugh.

It was hard for me when I first started wearing my hair fucked up though. 'Cause they used to call me pretty boy in school. And when I fucked my hair up 'cause I wanted people to listen, just, “What the fuck?” They’re like, “Oh shit you could really rap.” Bitches like “Aaron you so cute when you rap.” I’m like, “Shut up I already know. I done fucked you and your sister." But when I fucked my hair up on purpose I just made it straight and big as fuck, cause I had a lot of hair, I walked up and down the hood where the metro bus run, just walked up and down and I heard young girls point and laugh, “Ahh look at his hair. It’s stupid looking.” It was so embarrassing, so embarrassing. But I stuck with it, even though it was embarrassing.

When someone makes negative comments about you, you seem to get defensive. After releasing “Fragile,” are you going to be viewed as an anti-critic? Like you’re gonna hate all journalists? 
No I don’t hate anybody. I dislike when it appears like they didn’t listen. That’s not all journalists. That’s not all critics. It was dedicated to one certain motherfucker and another certain motherfucker from the past, you know? I encourage critics, when they critique my shit, to really listen. I feel like you should live with an album for more than one fucking listen before you say "Ah, I don’t fuck with it." Because a week later it’s like, “Damn that’s my jam.” That’s how it works when you first get an album. When I first got the 2 Chainz album, I’m like "Okay, that’s cool. I don’t know man. I don’t know.” Then I listened to it another day and then I listened to it another day and I got, “[Sings] Make you fall in love with a nigga like me. Like me.” I’m like, “Damn! That shit.” It started growing on me, and that’s why I went back and I could play a lot of the 2 Chainz songs.

I don’t believe that you can listen to an album once and be like, “I don’t fuck with it.” People ask me about Kanye. I heard it once as I was signing my seven thousand pre-orders from people who were playing it in Strange. I was listening to it and I could tell he was taking chances. I can’t really hear what he’s saying. I’m recognizing a couple songs, “Black Skinhead,” modern day slaves or whatever. I’m like, “Okay he took some chances on it,” but I cannot say whether I like it or not until I live with it like I lived with the last one and I fell in love with the last one, the Dark Fantasy shit. I played it like a motherfucker from beginning to end. The only one I didn’t listen to was “Monster.” That was one people thought I would rap on and I’m like, “That’s my least favorite one." But everything else was one hundred to me.

Kendrick is on "Fragile" and he’s an artist who is loved by the media. Why would he jump on this?
That’s why I was skeptical after I said I needed some elite. But when I talked to him, I'm like, I’m not sure if you can relate or—not relate, 'cause I know he could relate to anything—but people are loving him, so maybe he don’t have those stories like I have. It was a concern of mine. He had some. I didn’t know that people back when he was doing Section.80 were saying that he changed and changed his shit up to make it more popular. I didn’t know people were saying that until somebody hip me to it. I’m like, “Oh okay. He has a story.” Why wouldn’t he have a story? He’s an MC. Somebody’s gonna hate when you’re good. So it fit perfectly. It was meant to happen.


"Priorities" has Game on the track.
Ah. It’s not a song. It’s like a movie. Nah, it’s just like somebody running down the street after he shot somebody. Like it was a dope deal:

"Where’s the shit then, you got the shit?”
“Where it’s at then?’
“[Grumbles I don’t know]”
“Pop nigga fuck you. [Mimics gunshot sounds] Bitch ass nigga.”

Starts running [begins rap]. This is my imagination and if you listen to it it’s like he’s passing a javelin; he says his last word and I take his last word and I come in, take the javelin and then my last word while he’s running, a girl comes in and takes it, and it goes back to Game and you could hear the running stop and he go, “Bitch come up out yo shit,” and the bitch say like, “Don’t you dare touch me.” It’s all on beat. I made sure everything was on beat, even the [siren] and the dog barking—everything is on beat. This is what my dream told me to do, this fucking verse, 'cause it was a sixteen bar verse that I had from Game but I split it up, 8 and 4 and 4. Wonderful how it came together and we all came together at the last part and that’s the reason why we forever a minority. And the car, he pulls the bitch out the car, “Don’t you dare touch me,” and I’m still rapping and shit and the fucking sirens are getting louder, you could hear me in the back like, “Shit! Fuck!” like I’m getting chased. Then it goes and it blows up.

I never heard anything like that before in my life. And Seven, who was doing it with me, and Ben was like, "I’ve never done anything like this." And I’m like, “I dreamt it,” and it came out. I was so proud. When you listen to it man, try to listen to the background and shit. And you’ll hear the bitch go, “No!” when he closes the door and he turns on the radio and the beat comes on and then we start rapping to the beat, and after a while my heartbeat comes in. Keep the beat, you know what I’m saying, like speeding up and shit. It’s like—it’s crazy man.


"Burn The World” is a narrative of something that happened in Kansas city?
Yeah. It’s a little girl, a little four-year-old that got raped by a twenty-eight-year-old dude in a house. Momma left her there, babysitter was in another room, had some friends over and one of the friends is a pedophile. The little four-year-old girl was close to me, you know? And “Burn the World” came like that. If there was a lighter in everybody’s hands, the world would be brighter, the sky would be fire, you know? Lighting up dark places where people do bad things and maybe they won’t do ‘em. Maybe that pedophile shit won’t happen. So that’s, you know, “My Haiku” is dedicated to that. You know, the sick pedophile touching beautiful kids is really gon’ die. That’s the song [before] “Burn the World" comes on. But that whole heaven section starts with a skit, “No more silence in the church talking to the Vatican." Priests touching little boys and shit. So that whole pedophile shit, you know, that whole “No Silence in the Church” from “My Haiku” to “Burn the World,” is all dedicated to pussy-ass pedophiles.

“Burn the World,” that’s the first one I sent to [Nas]. I didn’t get to send him the second one. He said that’s dope. It’s too personal. He don’t know what’s going on in Kansas City with the little four-year-old that got raped and all that kinda shit, you know what I’m saying? That’s what inspired the song. I heard him on the last verse, yeah I think so, he’s a lyrical motherfucker. He just said it’s personal, and I said, “Okay I'ma find something.” Found one but I was on tour. I got off tour, didn’t have time to do it. After I’m done doing all this I'ma try to record it and send it to him. I just don’t know if that beat will still be the shit to me, you know what I’m saying? I do music now. I ain’t the kind that’ll use some shit that I did for another album. That’s why I try to do all the tracks that I get. But on this album I missed a couple of the tracks that I didn’t get to write to.


"Thizzles" taps Danny Brown. What's that song about?
[Laughs] That’s self-explanatory. I was on thizzles big back in the day. Danny Brown is Thizzle Man right now. I heard the beat, Richie [Abbott, Tech's A&R] came in and added his part to it, set the song up.

Is it influenced by Mac Dre? 
I was doing thizzles back before the hood thought it was cool. I was doing thizzles in the mid-'90s and we were saying thizzles because I hang out with Bay Area [guys] like E-40 who the nizzle, thizzle, everything came from that. They were calling me Technizzle back in ’97. So everything was, we called ecstasy “thizzles,” because it was a slang for thangs. “You got some of them thangs.” Thangs turned to thizzles. People probably don’t even know that thizzle is like saying thangs. You know what I’m saying, “I got them thangs.” So it turned into thizzles in the Bay Area. So if you listen to songs in 2002 like “The Tech N9ne Experience,” 'I wanna fuck but I’m thizzled up.' Niggas wasn’t talking about that back then. It’s documented.

So we always called it thizzles from the Bay Area slang. Mac Dre and them, we didn’t know the thizzle thing hadn’t happened yet. When I was doing it in the late ‘90s, I think it was the late ‘90s, like ’97, ’98 is when I start doing them. My dudes in the hood like, “Nigga, that’s white people shit. We don’t do that shit. Nigga we smoke wet.” Like, “Nigga that’s better?” [Laughs] And I was the only one in the hood doing it. [Now] years later everybody thizzed out. Thiz what it is. I love Mac Dre, but I been on it. Dracula man. I’ve been here for a long time, man.

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