Tech N9ne won’t be defined, as ‘Something Else’ proves

Tech N9ne is ready to put on a show at the TLA. Credit: Getty Images
Tech N9ne is ready to put on a show at the TLA.
Credit: Getty Images

Type the name Tech N9ne into Pandora and prepare to be transported to a rap wonderland, a place where Cheshire cats spit lyrics.

The station is a cornucopia of lyrical stylings, drawing on everything from Midwest rap to The Doors. It’s what we’ve come to know and expect from Tech N9ne, the rapper who refuses to be defined.

“Before I went independent, they had no idea what I was,” says Tech N9ne, whose real name is Aaron Dontez Yates. “It’s hip-hop, it’s gangsta, it’s rock, it’s everything. It’s kind of hard to see what you’re going to start with every time if you go on my Pandora — it’s Eminem and Ludacris all the time, lyrical guys. I don’t know, but Pandora puts me with insane lyricists, so I like that.”

Yates’ refusal to be pigeonholed hurt him early in his career, as major record labels struggled to characterize him. Seeing the graffiti on the wall, he aborted that mission and launched his own label, Strange Music, in 1999. The company, founded by Yates and his partner, Travis O’Guin, started out in a basement. Now they have multiple buildings, with plans to build a studio.

“I never thought we would outgrow the first big empire we built,” Yates says. “It’s hard using your own money to build things, but obviously it was meant to happen, because it’s working and we’re still on the incline this far in, 14 years in, and we’re still building.”

The rapper’s Independent Powerhouse Tour 2013 hits the Theatre of Living Arts on South Street on April 30 in what promises to be organized chaos — imagine “Pulp Fiction: The Musical.” Joining him onstage will be up-and-comers Brotha Lynch Hung, Krizz Kaliko, Kutt Calhoun, Rittz and Ces Cru.

“I’m sure people have heard rumors that it’s one of the best shows in hip-hop,” he says. “It’s wild, it’s mild. It’s glad, it’s sad. It’s rock and roll, it’s R&B. It’s sentimental, it’s instrumental. It’s a clusterf—.”

Philadelphia will be stop No. 35 on the tour, which will hit 55 different cities. That’s nothing for Yates, who broke the hip-hop record last year when he did 90 shows in 99 days.

“Nothing’s grueling anymore [after that],” he says. “This is our habitat, keep in mind, that the 90 shows in 99 days … we actually did 96 shows in 105 days.”

Yates stays true to his loyal fan base, too. Technicians, as the hardcores are known, pay up to $150 for VIP packages on tour dates. From 3-4 p.m. – or for as long as it takes – Tech and his crew sign autographs and shake hands with everyone in line.

“It’s wonderful, man,” he says. “You stay until [you meet] the very last person that paid to see you perform in the show.”

Dishing on his new album

Yates is an open book when discussing his lyrical stylings and musical influences. But when the topic turns to his forthcoming album, “Something Else,” he becomes a little guarded.

There have been rumors of collaborations with System of a Down, DMX, Rick Ross, Macklemore and Jay-Z. Yates, confessing that he got in trouble for leaking too much during a recent interview on Fuse TV, would only confirm one guest appearance.

“Serj [Tankian], from System of a Down,” he says. “Serj don’t work with anybody. He’s unleashing a monster for my album.”

Tech gets very cryptic when talking about Jay-Z. He admires the Brooklyn rapper greatly and went on tour with him, including a show in Philadelphia a few years back. Still, the two have never collaborated on a track, a problem that Tech is trying to fix.

“I would love to do music with him. I’ve been a fan since ‘Hawaiian Sophie,’” Yates says.

Will Hova get out his seat on “Something Else”?

“I can’t really say what I’m doing,” Yates says sheepishly. “I have a connection, a real close connection. … I have an idea, that’s all.”

Stay tuned. “Something Else” is due to drop June 25.

 

Five minutes with ‘Tech’:

Best performer you’ve worked with?
Roger Troutman [lead vocalist for the band Zapp]. We recorded “Twisted” back in 2000. I don’t think anything will ever beat that.

How close are you with Lil Wayne?
That’s my man. I was checking in on him when he had that little mishap with his health. I sent him that UGK line, “I just wanna celebrate ‘cause trill niggaz don’t die,” He wrote back that he wasn’t gonna die anytime soon. I send him titties [pictures] from time to time.

What’s on your iPod right now?
Kendrick Lamar M.A.A.D City, every System of a Down album ever put out, Slipknot, Rick Ross, to name a few.

Explain the meaning behind your stage name?
[Kansas City rapper] Black Walt gave it to me in 1988. It’s Tech, but we never spelled it like the gun [TEC-9], then we added N9ne. The number 9 is the number of completion and Tech is short for technique.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.