Tonight, Kansas City underground hip-hop icon Tech N9ne returns to Myth. It’s been a big year for Tech who, along with releasing new album Special Effects, has also been featured on some celebrated collaborations, such as “Speedom” with Eminem and “Ghost” with Prof. We spoke to Tech N9ne about his two-decade history in the Twin Cities, as well as got the inside scoop on some of his earlier breakout tracks.
City Pages: This is your second tour following the release of your new album Special Effects. With the album out for a few months now, did the reactions to any particular songs live surprise you?
Tech N9ne: It surprised me that “Hood Go Crazy” was gonna go that hard because I got so much backlash and negative energy when I first released it. Some fans don’t want me doing a song with 2 Chainz, B.o.B. or whatever, but I can make whatever the hell I want. The song got so humongous, when we started performing it, I didn’t know it was going to be so grand on the shows and go so hard. The people who did talk down on it, stopped.
CP: Speaking of which, a few days ago B.o.B said you two were going to be working on a full collaborative project together. Can you give us any idea what that is?
TN: We’ve been trying to do it for the past year, but we’ve both been super busy. It’s a proven fact that we make wonderful music together from “Am I a Psycho” to “Hood Go Crazy.” Every time we see each other we’re like, “When are we gonna do it?” “It’s coming!” I can’t wait to see what that turns out like. He’s an extreme lyricist like I am, and an extreme talent like I am. We’re different styles of music, but they mesh well together. Extreme lyricist, extreme talent. We understand music, I think that’s what it is.
CP: You’ve been playing shows in Minnesota for about two decades now. Do you recall your first show in the Twin Cities?
TN: That’s a hard one man, because I was signed to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis in ’93 and their Flyte Tyme record company was out of Minnesota, so I’ve been coming there since my teens. I recall coming to some music convention there at a Hyatt Regency, I don’t know where we were, I might have performed. That might have been ’92, I don’t know dude. I’ve been in Minnesota for a long time before people knew who I was, when only Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis knew who I was.CP: Earlier this year you collaborated with one of our hometown heroes Prof for “Ghost,” the first single from his Rhymesayers debut, “Liability.”
TN: Yes I did. I enjoyed it so much. He came to Kansas City on a very cold day, and we shot a video for it as well. Rhymesayers contacted Strange and Siddiq played me the track and I was like “Hell yeah!” They played me Prof’s verses and I was like, “Hell yeah, let’s go! He’s cold blooded.” It’s a very cool subject I don’t really get to talk about. Last time I played a show at Myth, he came out for “I’m a Playa,” and it was wonderful.
CP: The “Ghost” video also features another longtime celebrated Kansas City vet, Mac Lethal. What’s the biggest difference between the Kansas City hip-hop scene today and how the scene was 10 years ago?
TN: The difference is, there’s way more MCs. Everyone’s an MC, and there’s a lot of good ones as well. There’s so many and there’s so much talent. Mac Lethal’s been one of the ones at the forefront, just like me. Back in the day, we were in 18th and Vine at Mardi Gras freestyling on Wednesdays or Tuesdays. There’s so many more that I could name, but we’d be here for like 10 hours.
CP: In 2001 on your Anghellic album, you released one of your signature songs “Psycho Bitch.” On the new album, you made your second sequel to the song “Psycho Bitch 3.” What made it feel like it was the right time for another sequel?
TN: This was my biggest album and it was time. This was going to be the last one, the final one, and I had to go really big to be able to pull it off. And, the time was right. I’m glad I did it, because what came out of me was monstrous. Hopsin murdered it as well. If you want to go out, it’s got to be the right way.CP: What’s the longest it’s ever taken you to write a song?
TN: Maybe something like “Speedom” with Krizz Kaliko and Eminem. Maybe like a couple hours. If I could just sit for like three hours and write something like that. Sometimes it comes out quicker than that. The one I have to write today to record tomorrow, hopefully in Rhymesayers' studio, I’ll have a few hours to doodle with it and have it down by morning.
CP: “Speedom” wasn’t the first time you were on a song with Eminem. You both appeared on Sway and King Tech’s “Wake Up Show Anthem” in 1999. What do you recall about making that track?
TN: That was my first time shaking Em’s hand face-to-face on the video set, we always had a good vibe. I’m just happy to be in the circle of these extreme lyricists. I remember King Tech came to me in my little apartment with no furniture in Northridge, California. I was staying there because I was working in QD3.
King said, “I have this song I want to do called ‘Wake Up Show Anthem.’ I want you on it. Nobody’s on it yet, I want you to write to it and record it.” I was, indeed, the first person to get on it. Got over there, did my thing. Next thing you know, I heard it and KRS-ONE, Pharoahe Monch, Chino XL, Eminem, Kool G Rap on there killing it.
I remember going to the video set and seeing KRS-ONE doing his part, and he pointed at me and winked at me and said “Yes sir!” I was like, “Wow, KRS-ONE acknowledged me.” When I was coming in, Eminem was coming out. “Brother, how you doing man?” “What’s up Tech, how you doing?” It was a wonderful experience, thanks to Sway and King Tech.
With: Krizz Kaliko
When: 7 p.m. Sept. 24
Tickets: $35; more info here.