Photography by Lauren Gesswein

Tech N9ne hosted a release party for his forthcoming album Something Else at New York City’s S.O.B.’s last night (July 22).  Set to drop on July 30, this will be Tech N9ne’s thirteenth studio album—the latest feat from the best-selling independent rapper of all time, who also holds the record for the longest tour in hip-hop history.

While parts of Something Else have already been released—notably the smooth-hooked “Fragile” featuring Kendrick Lamar—partygoers got to hear the album in its entirety last night, spun by DJ Martin.  It features an impressive, eclectic list of guest appearances, and is divided into three sections—Fire, Water and Earth.  In an interview with XXL, Tech explained that, “Things go from bad to good, and they usually end up good.  The album goes from Fire to Water, Earth…I made Earth my heavenly level, because I believe that when things are bad, with progress, it’ll always end up good.  And that’s me being hopeful with the world.”

The album boasts some key elements the Kansas City MC is famous for—super-fast flows over thick, dark musical layers.  There is a heavy rock feel on much of Something Else, and at times, bouncing and head-banging seem equally appropriate.  Tech N9ne often speaks about being deeply influenced by the Doors (his label, Strange Music, is named after two Doors songs), and “Strange 2013” on Something Else actually features the remaining members of the legendary group.

Other guest appearances include T-Pain on “B.I.T.C.H.” (Breaking In To Colored Houses); Wiz Khalifa and B.o.B. on “See Me”; Cee Lo Green and Big K.R.I.T. on “That’s My Kid”; Danny Brown on “Thizzles” and fellow Strange Music artist Krizz Kaliko with rocker Serj Tankian on “Straight Out The Gate”.

As with much of Tech N9ne’s work, the new material explores themes of good and bad, darkness and light. The artist spoke with XXL last night about how his personal spirituality affected the creation of Something Else: “My mom and my aunties are really devout Christians. My mom married a Muslim when I was 12, so I got teachings from both sides and then other sides because I wanted to find out which way to go. So not only Christianity and Islam, but Confucianism, Shintoism, Taoism, Buddhism and Judaism. I tried to read everything. So what I found out was, I’m just gonna go  my way, and I believe that there is a God—I want to believe—and I have faith.  When you look at the teachings of the Bible, it’s pretty dark with Revelations, the Holy Ghost and everything, so hence the darkness upon me on my records.  And I embrace it.  I ran from it for a while, but now I embrace it.  And I take the light with the darkness.”

In the Q&A session hosted by Power 105.1’s Angela Yee, Tech N9ne spoke candidly about some of the darker times in his past, which are also openly dealt with on Something Else.  He told XXL that the most interesting shift from his earlier work is that, “I said some things in a couple of songs that I had to apologize for at the end of the song.  There are things you write about where you try to protect your loved ones, and some of these things I let loose on this album. And I had to apologize.  And I knew I had to do it, because I called the album Something Else.  So I had to give something else from what’s stored in that deep, dark part of my brain.”

As a living example of the dark/light balance he talks about so much, Tech N9ne described the darkness in his records and pointed out his “Happy As Fuck” bracelet in almost the same breath.  Closing his eyes and drawing his hands toward his chest, he told XXL, “If I tap into my spirit right now—without smell, without sight, how I feel within my heart—my spirit is smiling.  So if I was to die right now, my spirit would be smiling.”—Katie Moore