By Mike Hohnen
This November, the highest selling independent rapper in history and one of the most respected figures in the game, Tech N9ne will be returning to his adoring league of New Zealand Technicians.
Considering the dude was only in town just last year, it’s abundantly clear that New Zealand loves Tech N9ne, and he loves us. After all, why else put yourself through 25 hours of torture just to get here?
Tech will be in town mere moments before he releases his latest album The Storm, which has a Friday, 9th December street date. Prior to his arrival, we spoke to the man himself about why he thinks his music blends so well with New Zealanders, finding the silver lining when Jay-Z and Kanye West are too busy to collaborate, and all the other curiosities that went into making the perfect Storm.
Luckily, Tech was well and truly in the zone to talk shop…
Tech N9ne: My last day of tour was yesterday, I fly to you guys tomorrow…
Oh shit, so you basically only have time to do some laundry before you hit the airport again?
[Laughs] That’s exactly what I’m doing….
You must be pumped, returning to New Zealand already after being here just last year. I do apologise about that flight though…
Oh man it’s beautiful. I can’t wait. I have a lot of beautiful fans over there. The flight over there; we know how to do it – we’ve been doing it for so many years. We know we can watch all The Godfathers series, go to sleep, wake up and we’re there.
It sounds like you really have your shit together with all this…
From what we’re told, New Zealand is a tough market to crack. It’s pretty rare that we bring someone back year after year. It’s even rarer that artists are willing to make the trek back so soon! From your perspective, what do you think it is that created this bond between New Zealand fans and Tech N9ne?
We go wherever our fans are – no matter how far it is. That’s why we keep on returning, because the love keeps growing dude. It’s been a love affair since day one when Yukmouth, Luniz and Korrupt Dialect brought me down there all those years ago and I’ve been on ever since.
But I don’t know…Maybe they’re crazy like me? Am I A Psycho? I think we’re all dysfunctional, you know. We can all connect with each other. You’ve got to be slightly dysfunctional to dig Tech N9ne. Luckily I have millions of people that do.
Now, I have an example of how much your influence is felt here in New Zealand, but before I begin, do you do much gaming?
Not anymore. I use to back in the day and I started to suck at it so I stopped. I started working on my craft, heavily. That’s why I’m still the best at what I do! I’m still studying, and still trying to come up with ‘new’ all the time, I just did on my new album The Storm – So I get to show off again. I don’t have time for the video games like I use to! This music has taken over me, fully.
So, the most popular Playstation server for Battlefield 4 in Australia and New Zealand is named after you and your label. There’s literally hundreds of kids running around online at any given moment basically essentially repping you…
I’d like to know more about that man…I’d like to drop in on all of them and show love if I could.
The admin for the group named his son after you! Even though you don’t game anymore, I thought that’d be a buzz to hear!
I would love to drop in on everyone. It’s flattering that it would go to that distance. People take song titles and my name, and name their children. I respect that, that’s love…Man so I always like to give it back.
Let’s get to the album. The Storm drops Friday, December 9th. It would be interesting to know, what well did you tap into, so to speak, to inspire The Storm? The same well as other albums, or did you go somewhere totally new for this one?
I had to go somewhere different. I had to go all the way back to my very first album The Calm Before The Storm. I was recording that in 1996, so all these years later I knew if I called this album The Storm it would push me to do the best music I could possibly do; and I did it dude.
It’s so massive man and I can’t wait. I think I’ve released about five singles already, people are like, ‘Why are you releasing so many?’ I have so much music, man. Just look at the track list – I could put out 5 more singles and still be cool [Laughs].
Just by looking at the track list for The Storm you can see how much thought went into the album. As a fan, we don’t want things to be watered down for us. But, on the other hand substance can be overwhelming. Were you worried that fans may not ‘get’ The Storm?
Oh, totally man. Throughout my whole career I always tried to give more than just the music. It has to have some volume, some depth. That’s why years ago I created my personas: The King, The Clown and The G.
I brought those to the forefront on Everyready (The Religion) in 2006. I thought it was time to bring them back after all the new fans have come in after Fragile, Hood Goes Crazy and this, that and the other…Some fans just came in at K.O.D in 2009 and don’t know anything before that. I brought back The King, The Clown and The G, even though that’s me and it’s always been me.
I took this album and I called the first level on the album Kingdom, the second level Clowntown and the third is called G.Zone. I placed all the narcissistic music up in Kingdom, because The King is above all. In Clowntown’s a bit darker, a bit zanier. Actually, Clowntown is missing two songs.
One didn’t get done with this big group, I can’t say who but we’re still going to do it and put it out as a single. That song is called Bad Kid – I never told anyone this but there’ll be a big group doing big things on it.
G.Zone is the more serious music, the more gangsta music, and the more heartfelt music. It just brings it all together. It’s so well thought and put together strategically.
So at this stage in your career do you envision the whole, completed album before you’ve make a single beat?
Yes…Well, I come with the title first. The title usually hits me when I’m on tour or sleeping or something. Then I might get with my producer Seven and we’ll just start building songs. The first idea was Buddha, a weed song with Boyz II Men. I thought, ‘who’s crazy enough to get Boyz II Men on a weed song?’ I’ve had the idea for a long time, for so many years.
Then the Jonathan Davis/Korn idea came shortly after that, Starting To Turn. Hoo, that just let us know that the album needed to be even bigger. When we did Buddha, then did Starting To Turn, it just started forming. We starting to get a feel of the album; It’s going to be a little bit industrial here, a little bit EDM here, it’s going to be darker there…I’m going to make it storm through the whole album.
Man, my hands are getting sweaty just thinking about it…
Just wait until you hear it. When you hear that first song, Godspeed and you hear how I’m buzzing, you already know it’s about to be something. When you get to hear WeeFee*, you’re going to trip out. I haven’t told anyone this but WeeFee is the one that I sent to Jay-Z’s camp, but Jay-Z was so busy he couldn’t do it.
This is what i was going to do – Once Jay-Z started, I was going to have him send it to Kanye, because not too many people can say they’re the WeeFee, I mean the words actually Wi-Fi and I always wanted to do a song called Wi-Fi.
Not every artist can say they’re the Weefee. All artists don’t get other artists connected. Wi-Fi will get you connected to whatever you’re trying to connect to. I’m the WeeFee. I connected Ritz, I connected Krizz Kaliko, I connected Stevie Stone, I connected Mayday…I am the Wi-Fi dude. I will get you connected and if you get away from me you’re signal is faded, you’re no longer connected.
WeeFee was going to be such a big song. But when Jay-Z couldn’t make it and time was slipping, I only had one more week. I already had one verse on it, so I wrote the last two verses that were suppose to be Kanye and Jay-Z. I’m so glad they didn’t do it because I murdered those verses, man…So glad. It was meant for me to do WeeFee, even though I had it pegged for Jay-Z and Kanye because they are the WeeFee as well.
Not too many artists can say they’re the WeeFee…
…Just wait, man. Wait until you hear WeeFee.
Tuesday November 15th: Bodega, Wellington
Wednesday November 16th: Bodega, Wellington
Thursday November 17th: Powerstation, Auckland
Friday November 18th: Powerstation, Auckland
Tickets via Metropolis Touring