U.S rapper Tech N9ne has toured Australia and New Zealand countless times, and he’s still selling out shows left, right, and centre. Right now, half the shows on his upcoming 10 date tour and completely sold out, with tickets snatched up by fans who know just what Tech brings to the table when he’s let loose in a live environment. In fusing his undeniable, classic hip hop with rock n roll more and more, Tech promises to bring that energy he is renowned for and treat fans of new material off his upcoming album Special Effects.
Ahead of the tour, which kicks off in Christchurch this Saturday 28th February, we caught up with the legendary emcee to talk about his new material, his increasingly bigger profile on rock n roll festivals, trying to end his acclaimed ‘Chopper’ series with Eminem on the track, and more.
“The tour is turning into something different man”, Tech tells me over the phone, citing the fact that he’s been added to more and more rock festivals in the U.S. He indicates that this has influenced his live show, and while he has always been mixing rock in with live hip hop, watching bands like Slipknot do their thing live has contributed to his own craftmanship. “I’ve been watching bigger shows like Slipknot and stuff like that, just learning and trying to master my craft live”.
In talking about his upcoming LP, Special Effects, Tech says that it’ll be bigger than his last album, Strangeulation. We can also expect him to bring his series of ‘Chopper’ tracks to an end with “Worldwide Choppers 2”, for which he is trying to get a hold of Eminem. If that doesn’t end up happening with Eminem, then Tech is planning on putting a large line up of elite choppers on the track. “This one has to be the biggest – with Eminem on it – or the dopest – with everyone on it.”
We also talk about how the recent loss of his mother will impact the album and the approach he has taken on it, how he finds acts for his Strange Music label, his relationship with Australia, and more.
Check out the full transcript below.
How has the tour been going?
The tour is turning into something different man, I’m getting onto more rock festivals. It’s something we always planned though. We always wanted a melting pot of people at our shows. We’ve been getting it good last year. We have Rock on the Range in Columbus, and festivals with Slipknot and all. We did the Aftershock festival with Rob Zombie and Bad Religion…then a festival with Travis Barker; it’s turning into something even bigger, like we planned.
It seems like you’re one of the few hip hop acts which fit naturally in with a rock festival line up. Like you’ve got Cypress Hill, Ice Cube, Public Enemy and yourself…
Totally man. I learn for the best. I learn from Ice Cube, Cypress Hill, and Public Enemy. They were my teachers.
Do you find the way you translate your songs live evolves along with these kinds of opportunities?
Yeah man, but I’ve been doing that since day one, ya know? Without Rock & Roll there wouldn’t be no Strange Music. I named this label ‘Strange’because I’m a big fan of The Doors. We’ve definitely always had that vibe. It’s like the more we do it, the heavier it gets though.
Is that what we can expect from your shows in March? Something harder and more attune to rock & roll.
It’s going to always have that rock energy but it’s hip hop music man, infused with so many other genres. I believe music shouldn’t have any barriers.
Will there be much new material in the sets now that you have Special Effects coming out in May?
Yeah man, we have Special Effects coming out May 5th. I’m wrapping it up right now, and it’s turning out to be even bigger than my last LP. I’m good at beating myself at rapping! Usually it’s hard to beat Tech N9ne rapping and I have to beat him every time I make a new LP. It’s hard to do, but I did it again this time!
We just let out two tracks to let people know I did it as well, “Aw Yeah?” and “Dyin’ Flyin”.
So I believe this is your 14th or 15th studio album now…
I don’t know man, I don’t count anymore. Everyone else counts though, but I think 14 or 15 is about right.
You’re catching up to e-40 and Too Short!
[Laughs]. Yeah I’m going to try and get there man.
I heard there will be a sequel to Worldwide Choppers on the new album and you’re trying to get Eminem on it…
Yeah we’re still waiting for that.
How many chopper-style rappers will be on this one?
Well I’m not really supposed to talk about this but if Em does it, it’ll just be me, him, and Krizz Kaliko. If not, then I’m calling everybody that we had lined up to be on the song man, it’ll be a line up of really elite choppers.
Who are the choppers you haven’t worked with yet?
I’ve pretty much done songs with all the chopper style rappers. I haven’t done anything with Ludacris though, I’ve been waiting on that for a while. This one will actually be the last ‘Chopper’ track in the series; that style will always be a part of my style, but this song – Worldwide Choppers 2 – will be the last one that has ‘Choppers’ in the title. This one has to be the biggest – with Eminem on it – or the dopest – with everyone on it.
You always manage to pack a lot of content on these albums. On a personal level, what kind of topics will you be dealing with on Special Effects?
The album is dedicated to my mother who I just lost on June 6th to Lupus so the album has me a bit confused and angry; the whole album will feel like that. But towards the middle we’re going to party. I’ve got to party in the middle. We’re going to party hard, so we’ve got some pretty big hitters in the party section, and some really big hitters in the darker section. It’s going to be me fighting with people because of how people treat you; like seeing you on the Forbes list and trying to come get you and stuff. There will be a lot of me talking to God, me feeling how mom’s death was untimely. It’s pretty spiritual; it gets angry, then it gets to party, then it gets serious towards the end.
Let’s talk about Strange Music for a second. How’s that going? It has such a great reputation for being this well curated and quality line up of innovative hip hop artists. What’s the process by which you guys bring someone onto the Strange Music roster?
I find them at shows man. Just like I found ¡Mayday!. I found Rich [the Factor] at a show in Nashville… Found Krizz at an open mic show and all. I found them all doing their thing live man because if they can’t convey what they do in the studio live, then what are they doing it for? You know what I mean. We’re doing this to share it with the people, so that’s the criteria.
What’s you’re been most memorable performance recently
Every night man, we see titties so it’s always memorable [laughs].
So you’ve been to Australia quite a few times, you must be pretty familiar with it…
Oh yeah man, I’ve got a lot down there in Australia. As a matter of fact that new song we have called “Aw Yeah?”, which is the first song on the album, it has the chant “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi” in it.
What are your favourite things to do here down here in Australia outside of touring
When I’m down there, the girls take me to the sushi lounges man, and we just kick it like that. We eat good food, party and drink, dance. I’ve got a lot of people down there and they know to take me to party; they know I love to party.
What are some of the things in this country that you really want to do but haven’t gotten a chance to yet?
I want to learn how to play my didgeridoo that I got last time I was there. It’s hard to breathe in and breathe out at the same time. I’ve got a beautiful didgeridoo with my name on it, and the way they crafted it is amazing. I took it all the way home man. I hope people don’t try to get me more though because it’s hard to get them home [laughs]. I wish I could learn how to play because I’d put it in my music.
So it’s been quite awhile since you’ve been on the scene now; your debut came out in 1999. How do you feel you’ve evolved as an artist and a person from that year till now?
I just want to get better and better in this music man, I’m pushing harder than ever. I’ve been watching bigger shows likeSlipknot and stuff like that, just learning and trying to master my craft live. I’ve always been a master at the live show but there’s always room to grow so I’m still studying.