TSS: What are your thoughts on major label record deals in 2014?
Tech N9ne: I don’t know about ‘em. It’s not my world, anymore. I just know that some of the artists I’m interested in have been just sitting on these labels, for years. I don’t like that shit.
That’s why we took Jay Rock off Warner Brothers. That’s why we took Stevie Stone off Ruthless. That’s why if Atlantic don’t quit fucking up, I’m gonna’ snatch Snow Tha Product. She’s supposed to be out, doing her thing. Yeah, she just put out a mixtape. But, fuck that, let her do her album.
TSS: I’m pretty sure I didn’t even get proper press for her mixtape.
Tech N9ne: Yeaaaah. I just retweeted her mixtape. I saw she had 2,000 views in three days. I’m like, ‘Baby girl, you killed it.’ I don’t get anything for that. She’s not my artist. But, I got love for her, because she’s an MC. And, I love MCs. They’re trying to do it. Trying to infect the world and do more. Not just, ‘I’m gonna’ put this down. It’s not going to be together. It’s not going to be rhythmically on time. It’s not going to be in key.’ I don’t like that shit. It works, but I don’t like shit.
TSS: Would you say – and I think the answer is obvious, but I’d like to get your take – would you say you sign artists based on their potential skills, not their potential revenue?
Tech N9ne: Totally, because I think that lasts a long time. If it’s a slow roll, so be it. It was a slow roll with me. But, that shit lasts forever. Look at Tech N9ne. That shit’s crazy. No way we’re back in Forbes. Now way we’re still on the incline. Now way that I’m talking to Five Finger Death Punch about going on tour and that kind of thing. No way that all this rock shit is coming about. No way they’re starting to play our shit on the radio now, after all these years. You know what I’m saying?
I went to the radio station yesterday in Columbus, man, and I’m trying my best not be like “C’mon, man.” But, after all these years…
TSS: Yeah, you’ve worked for that opportunity.
Tech N9ne: Yeah. I know what it’s going to take for world dominance. It’s going to be that radio and that TV, so it’s OK, here we go.
TSS: You’re putting up the studs, for the foundation of your building.
Tech N9ne: Totally, man. Totally. I’m not used to it. So, I have to be nice. It’s hard for me not to be sarcastic. Like yesterday, they gave me the wrong sheet, for the drops. They were like, ‘Oh, this guy’s not working here.’ I’m like, how are we doing this? Just get me the new one. Laughing.
TSS: ‘Yeah. Ha ha. Greeeat’
Tech N9ne: Yeah. Ya’ll mothafuckas wasn’t even expecting us. You got to be ready. We military. When we walk into an establishment that’s supposed to be reputable, we want you to be able to show us you know what the fuck you’re doing.
TSS: The DIY mantra is taking over hip-hop. Damn near every other track I hear has the name ‘work’ in the title. Macklemore’s preaching “10,000 Hours,” the Malcolm Gladwell theme. Yet, you’re the Bob Villa of this rap shit. What’s the most important thing an independent artist can prioritize these days?
Tech N9ne: I’ll tell everybody this. It starts with the music. Without the music, there’s nothing. Of course, you have to get the money to do it, to get it out there for sure. Or, not necessarily anymore, because technology has where you can put it up on YouTube and you’ll get a million views. So, it’s easier for people these days. Not it like it was for us.
I would say, you would have to be not be the only one that agrees you’re dope, or know that it’s good. You have to test it. You’re best friend likes it? OK. Pass it to the next motherfucker in your house. Oh, my God, it’s beautiful. Then, it starts to hit your block. Then, your block recognizes you for your music, like ‘He’s really good.’ Then, it spreads to the next block. Then, it spreads to the club on the next block. Then, it spreads to the DJ. Then, it spreads to the DJ at the radio station. It can happen. But, you have to test it. You can’t be the only one that thinks you’re good. Other people have to agree. That’s my main thing.
People be like, “Tech, look, I’m the best. I’m the hottest.’ Yeah? Because you sound like the dude on the radio? Really? I’m a different type of human being. You don’t have to be master rapper to woe me. But, there has to be some sort of rhythm and feeling in it, for me to say ‘Whoa!’ If I say to you, ‘That ain’t no punk shit,’ that’s a good thing (Laughs).
TSS: (Laughs) Would you say that having a character is important? Some sort of persona to your music?
Tech N9ne: People have to have some kind of persona. You’re a person, so a person should a persona. Whatever your person is. If it’s cool and laid back, then that’s going to be your flow. When I hear King Louie on Kanye’s album, that’s dope. ‘Cuz aggins got cocaine to moooove.’ You know what I’m saying? It sounds like he’s real cool. There’s a persona with that. It’s wonderful.
If it’s ambidextrous and hyperactive, like me, I expect Tech N9ne – by the way I talk, I expect it to be…’I'm on a pilgrimage to the rhyme Mecca, because I’m Tecca/ And this mind left ya, down at the bottom because N9ne’s better/ And if swines ever find the quest to try and test the cleverness/They in a mess bind and yes I sever decay ‘em and define pressure.’
Something weird, like ‘what the fuck? (Laughs) You know what I’m saying? Where’d that come from, dude? They don’t know that I’m doing movies and shit. (*In Lords Of The Rings Smigel voice*) ‘Smigel, he stole it from us. My precious!’ You know I’m saying? I watch movies, and they might just pop out. I might just say ‘Bumblebee tuna,’ because I’m an Ace Ventura fan, and people catch it and be like ‘What!?’
TSS: (Laughs) My buddy would love that.
Tech N9ne: (Laughs) You know what I’m saying? It’s everywhere, out here and can you grab from it. It’s information overload, Tech N9ne is.
TSS: But, that’s your thing. You’re an out there kind of kind guy, so you have an out there stage persona to match. That makes a lot of sense. I feel a lot of people don’t get that connection.
Tech N9ne: Yeah, I’m a clusterfuck, man. I embrace it.
TSS: The double-edge sword is that while your hard-earned success pays in full, the grind is also grueling. But, the fact is, you’re 41 years old.
Tech N9ne: 41. Yeah.
TSS: How long can you sustain your pace?
Tech N9ne: Something divine is preserving me. You know what I mean? I don’t know. I’m just thankful, like, ‘What’s about to happen?’ Because, all these young girls, they’re like, ‘You look like you’re 25.’ No, I don’t, bitch. See you see this grey hair? But, I think something divine is preserving me for a reason. I’m supposed to do this. I’m about to be 42, November 8th. That’s really soon. And I feel soooo young and wonderful, man.
I just had my wellness check, two days ago. The doctor, she said, ‘You’re slightly overweight.’ I’m like, ‘I know, I’ve been drinking a lot of Hennessey.’ She said, ‘OK. Yeah, you’re drinkin’ thing. Well, you’re at 175 and supposed to be at 154.’ She said I’m right there. I thought I’d be way worse, you know what I’m saying? But, no, ‘Everything is right on the border. You just need to cut down a few little things. Just a little.’ I’m like, ‘OK!’
TSS: Yeah! That’s a win! (Laughs)
Tech N9ne: (Laughs) You know what I’m saying? So, I feel like something is preserving me and I worry about my bones when I’m up there dancing. I worry about, ‘I hope my ACL don’t tear. I hope my Achilles don’t pop.’ I’m just going, man. I’m a B-Boy. It still comes out. I don’t know. It’s preserving me for something and we’re going to see real soon.
TSS: When I look at that Forbes list, I see cats like Mac Miller. Wiz. Macklemore. Younger guys. The people in your age demographic are like Jay-Z and Eminem. Guys that…do whatever the hell they want. They’re at that stage in their career where they’re dropping music every other year and touring whenever they feel like it, and it’s pretty much warranted. But, you’re on par with those guys now – to a certain extent.
Tech N9ne: Yeah.
TS: Yet, you’re out here on your third tour this year.You’re releasing both an album and EP almost every year. At what point do you take the high road, fall back and let your supply start to tease your demand a little more?
Tech N9ne: It’s not going to happen, man. Because…I’m going doing what the youngsters are doing and I’m doing what the older motherfuckers are doing. They say, ‘If you keep it young, your song is always sung.’ You have to stay in the public eye. You have to stay in their hearts. If I disappear for a year, somebody else is going to take it. I can’t allow that. Yes, all these people that you named are beside me, but they’re on television.
Tech N9ne: Don’t let me get on TV. I’m gonna’ win in everyone’s hearts. So, I have to keep going in my lane and keep creating my lane, and get bigger – until it expands into the major lane. Like, ‘Oh shit! Tech N9ne is over here! What the fuck? He’s in Forbes, right next to me? What the fuck is going on?’ I can’t let up. If I let up, it will fizzle. That’s how I feel.
So, I keep it young and I do what the fuck I want to do at the same time. I keep the pace…‘We’re going. We’re going. We’re going. Let’s go. We’re going home!? Fuck that! Let’s go to Austrailia!’ Let’s just go.
For that, I lose my loved ones. Like, My wife and shit. My family and my kids, you know. But, they love me. We still kick it when we’re all together. It’s wonderful. But, I married this music.
TSS: You said on “Straight Out The Gate” that you “quit fuckin’ the music and it became your wife.” Will you be together eternally or do you yourself ever needing separate beds?
Tech N9ne: Nawww. Eternal ‘til I die. The music saved my life and I’m forever in debt. Without this, I have nothing. It saved my life. It helps me take care of my family. My wife turned 39 yesterday. She’s good, out there in LA. She’s good. My kids…Aaliyah just checked into her all girls college in Berkeley. I got my son a brand new car, for his graduation. Dontez, in Kansas City. Gave Aaliyah my Benz. Happy graduation, you know what I’m saying?
It’s like, (the music) saved my life, man. So, I’m gonna’ do this shit. I going to do this shit until…I don’t know if I’ll ever get whack, man. The more I learn, the more dangerous I’m going to be.
For more on Tech N9ne, make sure to pre-order the upcoming ‘Therapy’ EP he’ll be dropping with Ross Robinson on November 5, his latest ‘Something Else’ album and the concurring tour, which is currently shutting down a city near you.