Tech N9ne adds “Special Effects” to a discography that’s allowing he and Strange Music to transcend generations. Tech N9ne’s unique, pioneering brand of artistry hasn’t always been understood or embraced by mainstream culture, but with his 15th studio album “Special Effects,” Tech’s not only being recognized as an elite lyricist, but garnering the adoration for the groundwork he’s laid. Now the Strangland ambassador has offered the music world a 26-track experience that’s rapidly building a new fanbase while still blessing Technicians (the name for his hardcore, cult-like following) with the rhyme patterns and content they’ve loved for years. The success of “Special Effects” isn’t just based on a heavyweight feature list including T.I., Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, Eminem, (yes, Eminem) etc. It’s not the fact that the project samples from almost every genre of music, connecting with audiences Hip-Hop centric and beyond, or the fact that Tech turned personal tragedy into artistic triumph. The album’s success is established by the mere principal that throughout his lengthy career, his acumen as a rhymer and fearless stance as an individual has been tightly coupled with his inability to accept mediocrity for himself or the Strange Music brand. RESPECT. Magazine caught up with Tech N9ne to discuss the new album, working with Eminem, endeavors outside of Hip-Hop, and his plan for world domination. Strange is the new normal.
RESPECT.: We have to start with the new project. Walk me through the inception of “Special Effects” and the main direction and focus of the album.
Tech: “When I first came up with the idea for “Special Effects” it meant it was time for us to play with the music, play with the lyrics, and just add effects, experimentation. We just wanted to play with music, because we already proved we can do it better than most. It took a serious personal turn for me, my mom passing from Lupus, (RIP) the Forbes’ list thing, and family turing on me for money and everything. I’m glad the album took that turn though because it just made it that much more personal. A lot more depth, you know what I mean? I’m totally satisfied with it, even though I didn’t get to experiment with it as much as I wanted to with the sound, but lyrically, songs came fourth like “On The Bible,” Aw Yeah?,” “Lacrimosa” about my mom, “A Certain Comfort,” “Burn It Down,” “Life Sentences,” it just keeps going and going.”
RESPECT.: In regards to your discography, with albums like “The Calm Before The Storm,” “Misery Loves Kompany,” “Welcome To Strangeland,” etc., where does “Special Effects” land for you both artistically and personally?
Tech: “It’s my best work to date. After the first week (sales) came out, it’s wonderful to know that everyone agrees. Some people might still say that “Anghellic” is best, but that’s a bullsh*t lie. I mean you can have your preference, but you can’t tell me I’m not more polished than I was back in 2001. I’m better, a lot more level headed, drug free, just everything you know?”
RESPECT.: You have a lot of big names on the album, B.o.B, 2 Chainz, T.I., Wayne, Gotti. and so on. What was the selection process like for you choosing who to have on the album? Is it true that Eminem wanted a feature for feature?
Tech: “The beats choose them. The beats tell me exactly what to do and the fact that my name has grown over the years, the recognition is coming from my peers. The only thing different about Tech N9ne now, is that the people who are calling are my peers from the mainstream. Everything else is exactly the same when it comes to the good and bad theme, it’s all there. I love that my peers are seeing that I’ve been raw ever since I started. As far as the Em situation, it floored me that it was a feature for feature thing. I mean, he could get a half a million for a feature or something, I don’t know. This is a guy who can charge whatever the fu*k he wants to. The fact that he had the respect for me to do something like that just flabbergasted me. It’s total validation that people believe you are elite as well. This whole album, from the metal and dark side, to the Hip-Hop and EDM side, and even to the gospel side on “Lacrimosa,” there’s almost every genre on this album and I’ve been doing that. Every time I look at the lineup I’m still trippin’.”
RESPECT.: You gave listeners some old Tech and new Tech on this album. Out of all 26 records, what’s your most personal/impactful record on the album?”
Tech: “Aw Yeah” is a perfect song. The style and the delivery is a Tech fan favorite, because Technicians like the technical style of rhyme. I mentioned it before, but “Lacrimosa” was a mixture of everything. An original Tech fan might say that “Psycho Bitch III” takes them back. Tech N9ne is always changing, so it will always be fresh.”
RESPECT.: Having been in the industry so long, how have you seen the culture shift and how have you been able to not only maintain relevance, but continue to pioneer new sound?
Tech: “Oh man, it boggles me everyday. All I do is write my life how it is at the moment. To be able to have the style that kids want to hear today is not something that I’ve actively tried to do. I used to be a dancer, so the beats tell me exactly what to do and I just thank God that it’s still relevant to kids today and that they still care. They care the same way they did back when I dropped my first album “The Calm Before The Storm.” It’s crazy to be able to rock the planet back then, and be able to rock even harder now, it’s just such an accomplishment to still be that guy that the people wanna’ hear. The fanbase is getting younger, it’s crazy because that’s not supposed to happen. I’m in my 44th year of life and I feel like I’m 22 man. It’s such a Nosferatu and Dracula type thing, an immortal type thing.”
RESPECT.: You’re basically a legend in the underground, do you feel “Special Effects” really made that mainstream jump for you?
Tech: “I think so. Because of the features, it woke the naysayers up. People are label whores and feed off of name recognition, so when someone outside of Strangeland hears that me and Krizz (Kaliko) have a song with Eminem they’re like “Whoa, I’ve got to listen to this, it’s got Eminem on it.” The trappers will be like “Yo, I gotta listen Tech N9ne, he got a song with T.I., I don’t even listen to Tech, but this album is killer.” Yeah man, I see it happening. If you listen to the way these songs chose these artists, “On The Bible” is perfect for T.I. and Zuse. “No K” is perfect for me and E-40. “Psycho Bitch III” is perfect for me and Hopsin. Me and Audio Push sampling Jimmy Hendrix on “Give It All” is beautiful to me. I love mash-ups man, to bring people into Stangeland to see how they’ll display. One thing I’ve noticed that makes me feel good is when artists come to Strangland, no matter who they are, they have to bring their A game when their on a song with me, or Krizz, or anyone on Strange.”
RESPECT.: Discuss the Strange Music brand’s longevity and direction moving forward through the next generation. Aside from music of course, will merchandise always be a driving force with the brand?
Tech: “Yeah man it’s a big thing for us to stay on the cutting edge as far as designs for men and women, just everything that we create. Whether is be a hoodie with the Strange logo on it or G-strings and boy shorts for ladies. Just like you said, it’s not only the music, because we know the music is elite, we try our absolute best to do the best quality clothing that will last and make the fans happy. We just like updating designs too. One design on the last tour, might not be a design on the next. I see shirts on fans from three years ago, it becomes something special to them. We’re always changing, just like with the music, changing for the better in terms of the quality. The quality of the music matches the quality of our product. We have a group of people other than me and Travis, coming up with new designs and everything man. I love that it’s still poppin’ like crazy. This game is a popularity contest and I’m just blessed to be able to be myself with the music and everything else I do. It makes the journey real for me and not something I have to do to get popular and be able to sell product.” It’s a blessing to be able to gain popularity just being you and not conforming or selling out.”
RESPECT.: Do you feel that you’ve somewhat laid the blueprint for individuality in today’s Hip-Hop culture?
Tech: “I think not conforming is way greater in the end. Of course we had some rocky times where we thought people weren’t getting me, they thought I was a devil worshipper because of my different imagery, or they thought I was a part of the Illuminati. (Laughs) Quincy Jones told me back in 97 just write what you know and people will forever feel you, so I just started writing my life. I started to connect with people because I tapped into their emotions. I didn’t wanna’ have to change my face paint, I didn’t wanna’ have to change my Strange Music scrubs, none of that, because that wouldn’t be me or my comfort zone. I love that we can inspire artists like Hopsin to do their own thing and be themselves creatively. We actually wanted to sign Hopsin before he and Dame (Damien Ritter) went full in with Funk Volume and they’re successful with it, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s wonderful that people are seeing that you can do it on you own and still be a contender with the majors. Going number 4 on the Top 200 your first week, number one in Rap/R&B independently, it’s a beautiful thing.”
RESPECT.: What’s the future hold for Tech and Strange Music?
Tech: “I’m really happy that we’re moving forward with my beverage, Caribou Lou. A script is being written for me right now for a movie Rob Prior is producing called “Whisperer.” Even though my love is for music I’m gonna give it a try man. I already did “The Devil’s Carnival 2” so I’m anxious to see how I did. It’s not my comfort zone, but people think I do it wonderfully so we’ll see. If I suck I’ll probably shy away from acting, but I’ve alway gotta try and keep going in whatever I do because I never say die. Me and Travis’ goal since we started Strange Music is to get bigger and bigger and have more and more people take notice over the whole planet. World domination is a tall order, but it’s happening.”
Download “Special Effects” On iTunes – HERE
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