A lot of emcees like to make the claim that they’re the most successful independent rapper in the game, but Tech N9ne is one of the few who has the numbers to back up such a statement. With the release of his most recent album, the double CD Killer, Tech N9ne and his Strange Music camp are estimating that his lifetime album sales will hit the one million mark. For an independent artist to be able to say they’ve sold over a million albums over the span of their career is an incredible feat and this week RapReviews sat down with the man who’s about to accomplish that milestone to find out more about his latest work, as well as get the full story on his near death experience, how Keyshia Cole nearly ruined his city’s Summer Jam, and the Tech N9ne technique for picking up women.
Adam Bernard: Let’s start by talking about the new album, Killer. What made you want to use the imagery from Michael Jackson’s classic, Thriller?
Tech N9ne: I had to go that route. Not Michael Jackson’s personal life, per se, but his status in music. When it comes to that album, Thriller, you think of fifty million sold, a hundred million sold worldwide, it’s the biggest pop album. What I was trying to say with Killer is this is going to be my biggest selling rap album to date and it’s all killer no filler, so I thought I’d pay homage to Michael Jackson because that was the hilt of his music and I think this is the hilt of mine. I thought the hilt would be Everready. I thought that OK, this is where I’m gonna stay, but no, it got even better. This feels like the hilt. The reason it’s a double CD is I had a lot to talk about. I write my life and I had been doing a whole lot of livin.
AB: Judging by the album’s content that’s for sure. Two of my personal favorite songs are “Crybaby” and “Happy Ending.” Start me off with “Crybaby.” Was this a topic you felt you really needed to get off your chest?
T9: Totally, man. It needed to be said. I’m in the midst of all this stuff when I’m hearing all the emcees talk about Soulja Boy and people that’s on television that they think can’t rap. They talk so bad about these guys when in actuality, get your money, don’t hate this cat. Do your thing, there’s enough money for all of us, get yours. Why hate on the next man because he’s making it big? “Crybaby” is talking about those people and I had to get it off my chest because I’ve been wanting to say it for a long time.
AB: I think there are a lot of emcees out there who would be better served by creating something unique than by bitching that there’s nothing to listen to.
T9: Exactly, create something that the masses will love. Stop crying about the next man. I do me. I’m in my own world. I don’t do what Soulja Boy does, but he does what he does well, I take it. People love the dances that he comes up with. It’s young music, of course it’s gonna sell. Understand what it’s for. Understand it has a place and there’s a marketplace for that and there’s a marketplace for Tech N9ne, as we can see.
AB: Moving to “Happy Ending,” which is a blues song if I ever heard one, I have to ask, what happened between 2001’s “This Ring” and 2008’s “Happy Ending” that created such a depressed feeling in you?
T9: Different things. Imagine in your mind that you’re the illest emcee on the planet, but only a handful of people are getting that. When you know that your music is for the rest of the world it makes you want to talk like Scarface. I love where we’re going but we’re not where we need to be just yet, so like Scarface we were saying is this is it? Is this what it’s all about? This ain’t it, yet. This is wonderful, where we’re going, because it’s spreading like a forest fire, but just imagine being that talented and you’re only getting to a certain amount of people when you know your music is supposed to be for the whole world. Where is my happy ending? It’s supposed to be bigger by now. That’s just me being real.
“I’m forever going to have turmoil with women because I’m girl crazy, so you’re gonna hear that in my music time and time again…”
AB: You also go over some relationship stuff in that song, as well.
T9: Aw man, I’m forever going to have turmoil with women because I’m girl crazy, so you’re gonna hear that in my music time and time again because I’m so into women. I’m so into women they call me Georgie Porgie and you know the rest of that. Georgie Porgie pudding pie, kissed the girls and made them cry.
AB: Now, if MC Lyte reads this you gotta do a “Poor Georgie” remix.
T9: (laughs) Totally, man. That fits me so wonderfully. That’s me. I’m Georgie Porgie and I’m in love with pudding pie, you know what I’m sayin?
AB: I think most of us are in love with the pudding pie.
T9: Yeah (laughs). That’s me, man.
AB: Does writing a song like “Happy Ending” make you change certain aspects of your life?
T9: When I’m writing something like that it’s best for me to get it out so it won’t consume me, because my mind is always on it. “Last Words” is similar. When you think of “Happy Ending,” the second verse, “I put my life in the music inside out / I put my heart out for people they know what the inside’s bout / will they keep telling me this forever this I doubt / can never cry for help so if you’re listening this my shout.” That’s me getting my frustration out, me being a hardcore emcee, and I had to get that out of me because I would implode if I don’t.
“I’d be psychotic. I’d be in a mental institution, or I’d be in jail for taking it out on somebody, so the rhyme is the perfect outlet for me.”
AB: God knows where you’d be mentally if you kept that all inside.
T9: I’d be psychotic. I’d be in a mental institution, or I’d be in jail for taking it out on somebody, so the rhyme is the perfect outlet for me. Because I’m a Scorpio male I think of things over and over and over, they play in my head over and over and over, and it can possibly drive you crazy, but if I can put it in rhyme form and make myself enjoy doing it, for this pain it’s perfect therapy for me.
AB: I know you’ve had other outlets that didn’t work out so well. You did your fair share of drugs back in the day, didn’t you?
T9: Yeah I did. I almost died on ecstasy. Fifteen pills in one night. I was so happy that we were out in LA and I had opened up for Cypress Hill in San Bernardino at the Blockbuster Theater. We were outside and it was just like I was so happy that we were on that show. We started at seven o’clock at night when we got off stage. Because we were opening we started at seven o’clock and we took three (pills). Then by the time we got back to Sunset it was like 9:30pm and Sunset was packed, it was a Friday or a Saturday, so we took three more and we just kept going and didn’t want to stop it. I almost died, so I had to stop. Everything I do I do excessively. My drug now is women and I love that drug. That ecstasy was going to consume me because I was in pain spiritually and that love and that pill helped me, but I never wanted to stop because whenever I came back down my real life would always kick me in the ass.
AB: You know women can be a pretty dangerous drug, too.
T9: Exactly, that’s why I said in “Psycho Bitch II,” “me sayin I’ll never be taken by the hands of another man is a bad omen because you never know it might just be the hands of a woman.” It hit me one day because I always tell my dudes it’s destiny, I will never be taken by the hands of another man, that’s not how I’m gonna pass. And I started thinking, wow, I deal with women, what if it’s by the hands of a woman. It scared the shit outta me. I’ll just leave that subject alone. Being mister pudding pie a lot of hearts are involved so you gotta be careful, you gotta tread softly, you gotta be a playa. (Sings “I’m a Playa”) That’s a true statement. You gotta be careful in that field.
AB: It would also help if people who were crazy wore shirts that said so.
T9: Like if you walk up to a female and she has a shirt on that says “don’t have sex with me because I will lose it,” or “I know I’m cute but don’t have sex with me because I’m psycho.” I’m with you.
AB: Moving to your live show, which I saw last year, I know you’ve toured with a lot of different folks, from the Suburban Noize crew to Dead Celebrity Status to Paul Wall. How do you switch things up for each set of audiences?
T9: I don’t, man. When I set out to do this I want it to be for everybody, that’s what my name means, Technique Number Nine, the complete technique of rhyme, so I’m the complete technique, that means I’m everything and I’m supposed to belong to everybody. With the Paul Wall crowd there might be more black folks that come to his shows than come to my shows and when I go out there on that stage with that face paint and that bishop’s robe on I scare the hell outta them, but as soon as we do “Stamina” I have their attention. It’s like I do me, I don’t switch it up to fit the black, I don’t switch it up to fit the white, I just do me and that will suffice. We make fans everywhere we go and I keep it 100% me every time.
“Keyshia Cole belittled me, talking about ‘I’m not going on before no local motherfucker.’ She stormed out because she had to go on before me.”
AB: Do you get along with everybody you tour with?
T9: Totally. I never got into it with anybody. Me and Bone Thugs N Harmony were cool like family. DMX, cool like family. Busta Rhymes, cool like family. ICP, cool like family. Kottonmouth Kings, family. Ill Bill, family. All day. We’re standup cats. We’ve never been on tour with somebody we got into with. We did get into it last month (June 24th) here in Kansas City at the Summer Jam, though. Keyshia Cole belittled me, talking shit, talking about “I’m not going on before no local motherfucker. I am this that and this that. I will not go on,” and she stormed out because she had to go on before me. It was all in the papers here in KC. That was the first time we really clashed with another artist.
AB: She’s too big for her britches. My friends Hushh opened for her when she played CT a while back and when they saw she was doing a show in Massachusetts this past winter they drove up to see her and hand her some beats figuring you remember the guy with no arms and no legs that opens for you, but she got out of her car, looked away and walked in, not even acknowledging them.
T9: Damn. Yeah man, I got a whiff of it, hardcore. She fucked up my whole night and that was a big night for us in Kansas City. It was the first Summer Jam the radio station ever had and it was me, Keyshia Cole, T.I., Gorilla Zoe, and some more people. It was a nice mixture of crowd. It was real good, but she put a damper on the whole night being a prima donna. I love her music and my son wanted to meet her, but he didn’t get to because she was acting like that.
AB: That’s terrible. So what’s going on in your world, non-musically speaking?
T9: Non-musically speaking, I am partying with women. I love the female species. I am having a beautiful time. People are showing me a lot of love and I love to receive that love they give to me. That’s why I sound like I’m dead right now, because I’ve been receiving love.
AB: OK, well, since you’re a ladies man, could you finish up this interview by giving all the lovelorn fellas out there some tips on picking up members of the fairer sex?
T9: Confidence is everything. Making em laugh is everything. I’m not a comedian, but somehow they think I’m funny. If you make em laugh you can get them out of their clothes. If that doesn’t work it’s all about confidence, being sure of yourself. And if that doesn’t work Caribou Lou will do the trick for you. All you need to make it is 151 Malibu Rum and pineapple juice and it will get them out of their clothes and fuckin you.