"My way or the highway" doesn't usually get you very far in the music industry, or really, anywhere, but that didn't stop Tech N9ne from taking and succeeding with that approach anyways. Since founding his Strange Music imprint 16 years ago, the Kansas City, Mo. rapper has made plenty of engaging music on his own terms, and 17 albums later, he's showing no signs of letting up

Tech hadn't garnered much widespread exposure when XXL visited his Strange Music compound seven years ago, but since, the label's thrived as a premier destination for indie artists, signing a unique mix of hip-hop acts like Krizz Kaliko, ¡MAYDAY! and Murs, all while earning as much as $20 million in any given year. Earlier this year, Tech earned his first-ever platinum single, for "Caribou Lou," proving he's still hitting accolades more than 30 years in the game.

That sort of success might not have been imaginable when he first made a name for himself in hip-hop in 1985, but we knew Tech and company had serious potential. In the years since, he and Strange Music empire have become family, and to celebrate, the MC lands on his first-ever XXL cover. He's been a fan for a long time.

"XXL, I used to hear about it before I knew and became family," Tech N9ne says during his cover story interview, written by XXL Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Satten. "It was always a humongous magazine in Kansas City, for us. Then when Eminem talked shit [about XXL], it just took it to another level; that’s perfect. When you’re that humongous and somebody that humongous mentions you, it’s a big thing. But being a part of it, and XXL pushing me to do my first mixtape and my only mixtape I’ve ever done, it’s like, that’s family trying to help push you up. Now, here I am doing a cover for the family. I appreciate it so much. Everything we’ve done over the years and all the trips down to KC, everything. I don’t think it’s over, either."

Tech N9ne is just one of the artists selected to appear on XXL's 20 special edition covers. Like the Strange Music founder, these rappers have been documented by XXL through the extent of their careers and have always shown love to the brand that helped raise their profiles along the away. Tech N9ne's fellow cover stars are 50 Cent, the cover king with 15 total XXL covers and a career we’ve been documenting from the start; Diddy, the man who not only reinvented the remix but paved the way for rap moguls; Nicki Minaj, a queen in hip-hop building her own pinkprint in the game; Wiz Khalifa, the cool, calm and collected superstar; Cam’ron, Harlem’s swag connoisseur; Lil Uzi Vert; the face of hip-hop’s new generation; Migos, three rappers who helped redefine the culture; Snoop Dogg, the Doggfather of the game; Pusha T, a success story as a group member, solo artist and record executive; Future, a trendsetting trap god; T.I., rap’s gangsta and gentleman; Fabolous, a highly respected New York MC; Rae Sremmurd, the real crowd-pleasers; Birdman, a No. 1 stunna with a revered empire; Run The Jewels, partners in rhyme and reason; Yo Gotti, a testament to tenacity; Gucci Mane, the true comeback kid; E-40; hip-hop’s in-the-know uncle; and The Lox, a trinity representing for the streets.

Check out Tech N9ne's full Fall 2017 cover story here, watch his interview video below and keep it locked to our exclusive 20th anniversary hub for more content coming in honor of XXL's 20th anniversary.

Travis Shinn for XXL
Travis Shinn for XXL

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