The Missouri born and raised artist known as Tech N9ne is an enigma in the hip hop world in that he crosses over into the metal realm and quotes from spiritualist Deepak Chopra.
Maybe that’s not so unusual.
However, when it comes to his work as one of the highest grossing independent hip hop artists working today, there’s no confusion on the message he speaks.
You can hear his every, single word even as it is being fired out like a TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun, known as “chopper” style, and the origin of Tech N9ne’s (born Aaron Dontez Yates) stage name.
The gun reference is simply a way to describe Tech N9ne’s style. He in no ways condones violence, but says he raps fast as a way to get things off his chest.
Like many around the world, he watched in horror about the police shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
On the phone from his corporate headquarters (for his label Strange Music) in Blue Springs. Mo. before making his way north for his 19-city Canadian Strangeulation Tour, which brings him to Vernon Sept. 15, Tech N9ne says he watched the resulting riots on the news.
“I’ve been working on my album here and have been shooting a movie in L.A. It’s a sad thing to see what’s happening down there. I also hate seeing what happened to Robin Williams, and those people in Iraq dead and how it all went down. I have a 19 year old myself,” he said. “I like to speak the facts through my music, but I don’t jump the gun. I wait for more information. I only know through the news what’s going on, this microcosm of a microcosm.”
The fast talking, message-laden rapping machine, who grew up in Kansas City, has had time to think about the world around him as he visits just about every city and town that has a stage.
A prolific writer, and tireless producer, he has released 14 of his own studio albums since 1999 on his label (named after the classic Doors song), and has been featured with just about every other famed hip hop artist. He tours relentlessly, which is one of the reasons Forbes Magazine listed him as one of the world’s highest-paid hip hop artists. (He hit #18 on last year’s list with the likes of Drake, Ludacriss, Kanye West, and Jay-Z.)
“We have to go wherever the fans are – in the woods, in the hills, playing for 400 people, breaking foreign markets, playing to 80,000 in Denver to 6,000 in Denmark, back to playing to 300 in a bar to performing on Jimmy Kimmel.”
It all comes down to the music, which he says is a way to connect with others on this planet.
“(Shock G) from Digital Underground said it best, people relate to each other through music. Everywhere I go, people sing back to me, whatever colour, culture, creed, we’re all one and people relate to me through my heart, soul and brain. We have those emotions in common. We all have sadness and madness. We sort out our differences through music. It has the power to soothe the savage beast and ignite.”
Tech N9ne is probably best known for his chopper-like ignition with words. In fact, he’s put out a series of Chopper singles, featuring a plethora of fast rhyming wizards, and says Worldwide Choppers II, to be released on his upcoming album, will be his last.
“That last one was hard to beat,” he says, referring to the first Worldwide Choppers, which appeared on his 2011 album All 6’s and 7’s.
“What people don’t realize is that you can rap, but if people don’t understand you, then what’s the point? I don’t have mash potato mouth, I have a mouth full of teeth.”
And like Ice T and Body Count, Tech N9ne doesn’t mind crossing into other genres, especially into metal where his rapid fire attack fits right in.
His 2013 album Therapy featured sessions by well known metal producer Ross Robinson and featured guitarist Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit and Glassjaw’s Sammy Siegler.
“I wrote out a lot of aggression on Therapy. I’ve always had that rock edge. I like meshing stuff,” he said, adding he was the only hip hop artist to appear at Slipknot’s Knotfest with the masked metal band, as well as with Danzig and Five Finger Death Punch.
He is also about to play Aftershock 2014 in Sacramento, Calif. with the likes of Rob Zombie, Bad Religion and Weezer two days before he arrives in the Okanagan.
“I always want to do something I’ve never done, be someone else, and bust through ceilings,” he said.
One of those new endeavours is acting.
Tech N9ne is currently working on a new project that he can’t say too much about, yet.
“It’s a Shakespeare like character,” is all he’ll say, adding, “I was nervous as hell the whole two days of filming, but I managed to memorize my lines.”
Expect Tech N9ne to rattle off a few more lines when he brings his Strangeulation Tour to Monashee’s Bar and Grill, Sept. 15.
Joining him will be Strange Music artist Krizz Kaliko, with opening acts Animal Nation from Whistler and Vernon’s own Immaculate. Tickets are $40 (pre-sale at Monashee’s) and $50 at the door, which opens at 9 p.m. (19-plus only.)