Earlier this week Kansas City rapper and Strange Music frontman Tech N9ne visited New York City to promote his upcoming album, Something Else, which hits the shelves next Tuesday, July 30th. Taking place at the legendary SOBs, the event was a modest affair: security was minimal, the music was fairly audible and the bar was [temporarily] open. After Tech arrived, he ascended the stage, briefly thanked everyone for attending, then quickly made his way to the floor to mingle with the crowd. The brief introduction was a humbling gesture with a clear message: the night was simply about sharing the music.
Accordingly, the album began playing immediately. The first song, aptly named, “Straight Out the Gate,” features Krizz Kaliko and Serj Tankian of System of a Down and sets the precedent for an album overflowing with features. In fact there are so many features – and many of them are high-profile – that RESPECT. had to ask Tech how he could afford them when he is merely an independent artist.
Barely concealing his own lingering shock, he informed us that with the exception of the instrumentals and his collaboration with The Doors, all of the features were done without cost, “out of respect” for him. There’s no telling what he will have to give these various artists in return, but the fact that they contributed these verses for free is simply amazing. Tech himself shared our amazement, saying, “How do you think it makes me feel?” Hip-hop has been a house of horrors when it comes to navigating that treacherous line between business relationships and artistic collaboration, so RESPECT.‘s guess is that Tech feels pretty damn good. The songs make this apparent. Despite the abundance of collaborations, a clear voice, his voice, manages to float above each song, ensuring that the reins remain in the hands of the creator.
It’s difficult to dive into the nuances of the album after only one listen, especially a listen that occurred via the questionable acoustics of a nightclub, so until there is an opportunity to properly review the album, here a few notes from the party:
- The album features a noticeable amount of live instrumentation.
- Tech told RESPECT. that he couldn’t pick a favorite song because of the album’s tripartite division into Fire, Water and Earth, which all mean something different to him, but after the full album finished and he began playing individual tracks, Tech demanded that the DJ play “Fragile.” (so it’s probably one of his favorite songs.)
- On “Priorities” Tech trades bars with Angel Davenport and Game. It’s a short track (1:43), but that song structure – 3 emcees continuously going back and forth – is something that deserves to be explored some more by Tech as well as other rappers
- Rittz, who was signed to Strange Music last year, absolutely fits in with the Strange Crew, as indicated by “Colorado.”
- The album is kind of long with all of the bonus tracks.
- Danny Brown and Tech would be a crazy rap duo.
- The album as a whole is very vulnerable, but in a way that differs from the vulnerability of Take Care.
- Tech N9ne seems to genuinely make the music that he wants, sans market pressures. He and Mac Miller should high-five.
- On one song, someone says, “Fuck your litigation.” That’s the history of rap in a nutshell, is it not?