Tech N9ne is a hardcore rapper from Kansas City who knew he was going to make it early on.
He focused on developing his own style and tone, on his strong rhymes and rapid-fire delivery.
Failing that he might have become a psychiatrist, he confides to The Progress.
But with a million records sold, tons of collaborations, his music on TV, in video games and movies, he’s a force to be reckoned with in the underground hip hop world.
Tech N9ne, who was born Aaron Yates, is the co-founder of the independent Strange Music label. The rapper and his guests are live in concert in Chilliwack on May 25 at Evergreen Hall as part of his Canuck the Industry Tour.
He’ll be rolling up in his diesel tour buses to put on a massive stage show, with support from special guests, Krizz Kaliko, The Scale Breakers, Westcoast Familia and Dissikuss.
Here’s how the Q&A interview went between the Progress and Tech N9ne while he was preparing to do a show earlier this week in Montreal. You’ve spent an enormous time touring and out on the road.
How do you stay healthy on tour?
We work out. Actually it’s the first time we’re going to be healthy. I have a personal trainer on tour with us this time. We’re eating baked chicken, apples and peanut butter. But my favourite is Italian food. You know what I’m sayin’?
You’re known for your staccato rapid-fire rhyming but what about the label “bizarre hardcore,” what do you think of that one?
I like the hardcore part. Many of my images are like that. I’m a black dude with a painted face. Maybe my style is bizarre. I first heard something like it in a song by Slick Rick, but also it’s just being in the Midwest (of the U.S.). Thank god I was born there. We get it from everywhere, all points north, south, east and west. What sets me apart is the style, the tone, and pitch, and the subject matter is a little different.
What do you to do when you’re not on tour?
I like to watch movies. I saw Insidious. It was spooky as hell and I like spooky s**t. It had me spooked out. That’s when you know the movie is good, when even the king of darkness is spooked. That’s me.
Who are the artists are on your iPod?
I like to hear Rick Ross. I brought that album with me on this tour. Also Kanye’s new album, I played that one to death. The album from the doors Waiting on the Sun. I just love Jim Morrison. He did whatever he wanted and wrote from his heart. The name of my label, Strange Music comes from his song, People are Strange. He gave me a great idea, so much love to Jim Morrison.
Ever been to Paris to see his grave?
Let me tell you what happened last year. I went to Paris for the first time. Someone called me to do a show and I got to drink Jack with Jim. I put a recording of it on my CD of me whispering to Jim at his gravesite.
What do you make of the Canadian hip hop scene?
It’s totally alive. Look at Drake, he’s one of the best. TO is all right. It’s people like Kardinal Offishal. Yeah, it’s happening.
Is it true you travel on tour with a fleet of vehicles?
We have diesel tour buses. Several. We have to take our set and merchandising is just humongous.
Who would you most like to share a stage with – living or dead?
I have to say Jim Morrison. System of a Down. Rage against the Machine. Eminem. Oh well we done a video together, does that count as sharing a stage? Oh, and Slipknot.
We just started the tour and we’re going to do the show tonight. I met all the wonderful fans today. It’s going to be 82 shows in 85 days.
From 2006 to 2011 you’ve pumped out at least one album a year. That’s quite a lot to produce. Where do you get that strong work ethic from?
That’s crazy. I never count. I think it comes from being at the bottom where nobody shows you no love whatsoever. Then it starts to be automatic seeing the love because of your work. At one point I said this is what gets me to travel all over the world? I’m gonna work so hard! This s**t don’t happen for all of us. I saw something that saved my life. It was either gang banging or music or be a psychiatrist. I said s**t I’m gonna rap. I came to realize, that you know what? I am my fans’ psychiatrist. So damn, my music is like therapy. They hear my pain and it lessens theirs. I ended up a psychiatrist anyways.
6’s and 7’s is the name of your latest album. What’s that all about?
It’s about being in a state of confusion and disarray. It’s always been confusing spiritually and the world is in disarray right now. You know when people are celebrating someone’s death the world is really f**ked up and in trouble. Like wow. It makes you look at the world differently, you know what I’m saying?
You once said “I been planning success all my life.” What did you mean by that?
I got it from Jim Carrey after he did The Mask. When he was asked if he was surprised or shocked by the sudden fame, he said he’d been planning for everyone to catch up all his life. It was the same for me. I knew I wasn’t wrong. Even when I had no job, and no place to live, I had my writing. Now I’m seeing it come alive right before my eyes. It’s the craziest feeling. I could have been wrong, but I wasn’t.
Tech N9ne on Canuck the Industry Tour 2011
with special guests – Krizz Kaliko, The Scale Breakers, Westcoast Familia & Dissikuss, May 25 at Evergreen Hall, all-ages event, tickets $35
at Fuel in Chilliwack Mall 604.702.8983 or call 604.209.0494 and 604.845.3590, or online http://vancouver.nightbat.com/event-techn9ne