Tech N9ne: Nine. How do you do?
Rags Music: I’m great. And how about yourself?
N9ne: I’m wonderful. Am I early? I wasn’t sure if it was 12:30 or 12…
RM: It was 12, you're good. So how’s your day going?
N9ne: I just woke up, man. It’s wonderful. I drank last night. I won some kind of award over skype, but yeah, I got a hangover.
RM: Well, I’ll try to keep from making your brain work too hard.
N9ne: It’s all good, whatever you need, I got you.
RM: My first question…I’m a bit nervous doing this and I’ve been doing interviews for awhile now and you been rapping a REAL long time. Do you still get nervous before live shows?
N9ne: Totally, all the time, because you never know what’s gonna happen. I get butterflies. The thing is, I used to get so nervous that I couldn’t concentrate. Now the butterflies make me feel like when I used to do ecstasy back in the day. I’ve been clean for over five years but it feels like that feeling that you get in the stomach. You know, the high. Hold on for a minute…
N9ne: I’m sorry, that’s Strange Music. They call me when it’s time to do the interviews like I’m not doing them. They call and say “You’re supposed to do an interview” and I’m like “Ummm, yeah, I’m doing it.” <laughs> But yeah, I still do get nervous. It’s normal, I just channel it differently now.
RM: The first time I saw you was in 2009 at Rock the Bells in Vancouver. I knew nothing about you but my little brother kept saying, “You gotta watch this guy. You have to see him.” I was blown away by the show and the thing I noticed the most was the youngest people in the crowd were going the craziest. I know you do all ages shows sometimes when you’re in town too. What is it about you and your music that gets young people so riled up?
N9ne: I think that “If you keep it young/Your song is always sung”, I heard that in a song years ago. One thing I have in common with the young is I love to party. I love having sex, I talk about sex. I talk about things that are messed up in my life, know what I’m sizzling? They relate to it. I didn’t target the young, it’s just that what I’m thinking is what they’re thinking. Thank God for it, ‘cause I’m 40 years old. That’s crazy. They’re crazy. They keep getting younger and younger. I’m like “What the fuck am I saying to get all these young girls at my shows?!” I feel like Justin Bieber or something. It’s working. I’m just being me and I guess I have a young mind, I don’t know.
RM: Where does it start for you? How did you get into Hip-Hop?
N9ne: I used to be a dancer, know what I mean? Pop-locking, Breakdancing, B-Boy, all that, and with rhythm came rhyme. It hit me in 7th grade. Rap hit me before 7th grade but me writing rhymes hit me in 7th grade, 1985. I naturally have rhythm, being a dancer, I won talent shows and everything. I’m an acrobat lyrically.
RM: Yeah, yeah. When you hear a beat that gets you riled up and thinking does the flow ever come before the words or do they come together all the time?
N9ne: Usually I’ll listen to the beat and patterns hit me first. Sometimes I record it in my recorder and I’ll start putting words there that make sense to me. I do a couple of different ways…Sometimes I listen to the beat and it has me see a word and I’ll say a word not knowing if can rhyme it and I’ll sit there and rhyme it as much as I can. I challenge myself and sometimes it makes It harder to write, but the result is “He’s a Mental Giant”, so why wouldn’t you do it?
RM: Do you find you write on paper or freestyle more? Do you prefer one or the other?
N9ne: I’m not a freestyler at all. I’ve done so many drugs that I could never…My style, you’re not about to think that up in seconds. My style, you’re not about to freestyle like that. I’ve always been a writer, back when I was in school, I always did extra on my journals and everything. I’ve always been a writer. I’ve never been the freestyle cypher dude. I was on this “Wake Up” show for years but I was spitting rhymes that I knew and they loved it. I’ve always been that way. I’m more of a writer than I ever was a freestyler. They come to my head like a freestyle when I’m writing. A line will come to my head like “I’m looking down on you niggas/Even though I'm 5'8″ & 195 pound on you niggas”, even though I’m shorter than them. So it comes to me like a freestyle but I’ve never been the freestyle type.
RM: Your lyrics are all over the place. Do you ever find you catch flak from people that want you to stick to one topic or style?
N9ne: Oh yeah, I catch flak all the time. My fans, I do everything, I’m three-dimensional, so they have their favourite thing that I do. “I like when he raps fast.” “I like when he raps slow.” “I like when he raps the rock n’ roll feeling music.” “I like when he does the sexual music.” “I don’t like when he does the sexual music.” “I wish he’d do more mad, sad music.” I do all of it, so there’s always fan colliding on my website and shit. Disagreeing and agreeing on shit. If I did one thing they all would agree. I would expect them to agree. I don’t want to make it easy for everybody. I want to make it intricate, that’s why I’m technician number one.
RM: Have you ever bit your tongue rapping so fast?
N9ne: Have I ever bit my tongue? No, I don’t think so. Because the trick to me doing is to let the tongue be real loose. The way I do you don’t push hard against the roof of your mouth. It’s like “Everybody wanna be down with a nigga/Women get a whiff of the money/Thinking of taking it from me”. That’s gotta be like a really loose tongue, know what I’m saying, to move about. From the roof of your mouth to the bottom of your teeth. Nah, I’ve never bit my tongue, know what I’m saying? <Laughs>
RM: Your list of collaborations is staggeringly long even for a Hip-Hop guy, in a genre that is known for collaborations. Is there anyone have you haven’t been able to get that you’ve really wanted? And is there is a collaboration that you’re most proud of?
N9ne: I’ve been doing all kinds of new music, so it’s like “Wooooow”. My favourite is probably Tupac or Roger Trout, man. Roger Trout, I did one called “Twisted” in 2001 for Anghellic, I did it with a guy that I grew up listening to. We did the song together. We redid one of his old songs. I would say that one. That’s my favourite. Everybody knows I’d love to do a song with Eminem. The list goes on, Slipknot. Hooking up with them.
RM: Your albums are super long and you release at an incredible rate, is there any worry that you’ll just hit a wall and run out of material?
N9ne: No because I’m forever living life so I always got something to talk about it. I’m forever living life so I don’t see anything but STYLE block. Like “How do I wanna say this?” or “How do I want this to come out onto paper or onto the mic, the people?” “How do I wanna execute this?” That’s the only kind of block where I go “I can rap it like this or rap it like that,” but I always got something to talk about because I forever have something happening to me. Life is here so there’s no way to not write about something, the way you’re feeling. I don’t think I’ll ever hit a wall. I don’t know what it feels like so I don’t know.
RM: Speaking of style…how long did it take you to master that backwards rapping shit? That is incredible…
N9ne: I need to more of it, but it’s so hard to do. Since I was a youngster, I used to always write things backwards all the time. I don’t know if it’s dyslexia but I was always writing things backwards, man. So I just started saying things backwards so ‘shit’ would be ‘tish’ and ‘fuck’ would be ‘kcuf’. I would just make it sound like it was going backward but really I’m just reading it backward. ‘Jesus’ was ‘Susej’ and ‘infatuated’ was ‘?’ (That’s a weird one to type backwards), I’d say it backwards. It’s the weirdest shit ever. I don’t know where I came from, I just always loved spelling things and reading things backwards since I was a youngster. It just bled out into my life, just a clusterfuck of a motherfucker. I just do it to show people this is how fucked up my brain is. Listen to this, it sounds crazy as hell. People wanna know what I’m saying and if you read my lyrics you’ll be able to read it and you say “Wow, he actually said this.” I think that’s more exciting that you know that I’m not just making sounds, just reading the words backwards. This is what it sounds like to me.
RM: It’s impressive watching it, for sure. Where does all the insanity and Klusterfuck come from? You seem like a pretty together guy…
N9ne: Yeah but my brain runs wild all the time. I’m from the Mid-West, we’ve got music from every direction. From the South, East, West, know what I’m saying? From everywhere. And we were a really religious family. My grandmother, my mother, my grandfather, pastor. When you get the first teachings of anything, the bible or anything. A lot of that shit is scary, it’s wicked. About revelations and everything, us going to church and seeing people catch the so-called ‘Holy Ghost’. I think that’s wicked off the top and that wickedness spread over to me from religion and just me being right here in the middle of the heartland, I think it just it just turned me into this clusterfuck. I love it. My family weren’t just one-sided, they were eclectic when it came to their music tastes. There was rock ‘n roll in my house. There was gospel in my house. There was Hip-Hop in my house. There was R&B in my house. There was jazz in my house and blues in my house. So that helped also. I’m the kind of dude that can channel them all in one verse if need be.
RM: It’s incredible. Like I said I haven’t known your stuff that long but every time I listen, the intricacies in your flow, changing it in the middle of the rhyme. It’s just really incredible.
N9ne: It’s getting worse too. It’s getting random. I’ll just saying anything in the middle of a line like “Bumble-bee tuna”. What?! That cracks me up. I always talk about that in interviews because that just tickles me to go Jim Carrey in the middle of the line. “Bumble-bee tuna!” Like, what?!
RM: Speaking of Jim Carrey, I was listening to All 6’s and 7’s getting ready and I never picked up on bit before, but you reference Stanley Ibcus. I was excited about that.
N9ne: I’m a Jim Carrey fan. If you listen to the music you know. There’s a lot. Stanley Ibcus was from the Mask. I have all those movies. You’ll catch a lot of things in my music. I’m a movie buff too. So you’ll hear a lot of movie references in my music.
RM: What’s your favourite part about live performance?
N9ne: I tapped into it recently on this last tour, I’m starting to pay attention to everybody smiling at me. Everybody smiles at me and that’s a beautiful feeling that all that sunshine and energy is coming your way because they love what you’re doing. And that’s part of it, that everybody’s happy, everybody’s having a good time. There’s some people out there stone-faced trying to see what all the hoopin’ and hollerin’ is about Tech N9ne and by the end of the show they’re smiling at their friends, clapping. Non-believers that come, like “What is this all about?” and then they see it.
RM: Like I said I had never heard of you before I saw you but was won over by the live performance.
N9ne: Totally. That’s why we got on things like Rock the Bells and Paid Dues so people who regularly come to our shows will be exposed to the klusterfuck.
RM: Speaking of Rock the Bells, you were the only artist, you and Krizz Kaliko came out and interacted with the fans. My brother, who’s a huge fan, is always talking about how great you are with the fans and the more I read about you, the more I see it. Does it ever get tiring to give that much access to yourself?
N9ne: No. No. I’m normally an inside-out type of person so I don’t know no other way but to give you all of it. I don’t know no other way than to just expose everyone to my insides or my insides to everybody. What I mean by my insides is what I’m thinking and feeling. I just give it all. That’s what I was taught to do when I was younger. My second record deal was with Quincy Jones and he told me to rap what you know and that’s what I did, I opened myself all the way up. I don’t think it gets tiresome, it just makes people feel like they know you and they do. Even though they never met you but they’ve been with the music since the beginning they know you because you’ve been giving your life experiences.
RM: Has that close interaction with fans ever got so weird even you were taken aback by it a bit? You seem well-equipped to handle the weirdness but…
N9ne: I don’t think it’s gotten out of hand yet. I could see it getting’ out of hand but they hold me on a pedestal. Sometimes I feel pressured, like “What do I wanna say to everybody? I wanna say the right thing.” But the right thing is what I feel. People come up and go “You don’t think it’s weird that guys get your face on their bodies?” I’m like, nah. “You don’t think it’s weird that females get your face on their ass?” I’m like, nah. I don’t think it’s weird, I think it’s something they wanna follow and something they believe in so they put it on their bodies for the rest of their lives. I feel obligated to never let those people down. I haven’t had anything happen to where somebody wanted to kill me or anything. There’s love here. But sometimes I’m paranoid about when the hatred is going to come ‘cause there’s so much love.
RM: I notice that unlike a lot of rappers you tend rap first on your collaborations? Is there a reason for that?
N9ne: I thought about that this week and I thought about why I do it. I tried to tap in my brain, it’s like I’m that particular, not trusting anybody to come before me because usually when people wanna listen to a song they listen to the first five seconds and if you don’t catch ‘em they might not wanna listen to it. I want to make it to where they will listen for sure, so I will come first. I think you gotta their attention at the beginning and the end. I think the narcissist in me don’t trust nobody to open like I would open. So if I let someone open it’s like I trust them. But I like to set the stage for the rhyme and that will inspire everybody else to go hard too, you know?
RM: Makes perfect sense. What’s been the hardest part of building Strange Music up to now when you’re an independent force?
N9ne: The hardest part of getting the Strange Music thing going was getting’ into radio and video and getting people to not think I’m a Devil worshipper. A lot of people shun my music because of the imagery and because it isn’t the norm. Usually when something’s not the norm people don’t understand it and they try to destroy it because they can’t control it. One thing you can’t control is me. The hardest part was, and still is, getting everybody else on it. People are finding it because other forces are starting to take aim at Tech N9ne, in a good way. Lil Wayne saying, “Okay, I want him on this album.” Linkin Park wants me on their album. People are reaching out. It’s starting to infect them. It’s going to make its way to you no matter what. It’s like an inevitable virus, Tech N9ne. You can try to run away but it’s going to find you somehow. Like “What? I’m listening to Tha Carter IV and this motherfucker pops up?” Yeah! It’s gonna find you wherever you listening. I don’t give a fuck if you listening to country. It’s going to find its way to you, trust me. It’s like a wonderful virus of music, beautiful music. It’s gonna find you, even if you’re not a fan, it’ll going to find you somehow. And I feel diabolic for making that kind of music that’ll find you no matter what. To have that outlook is so narcissistic and it’s so pompous and it’s so stuck up. No matter what you doing it’s going to find you anyway. And I’m over here writing it like the Diabolic Professor <evil laugh>. “These motherfuckers don’t even know yet.” How pompous is that? Like really, to think your shit is so good that it’s going to find you motherfuckers. It is!
RM: You do a lot of shows in Canada and seem to draw huge crowds all the time. What do you love about Canada?
N9ne: The women. <Laugh> Nah, I’m joking. I love the love that I get in Canada. It’s people that have been waiting for me for years. It took me awhile to get there but when I got there and saw the love I wanted to keep coming back. It’s growing like a forest fire in Canada. And we keep growing it and it keeps getting better and better and better.
RM: You seem to hit the pavement up here more than a lot of other large-profile Hip-Hop artists, which is great.
N9ne: They probably can’t get in. Half of my guys can’t get in!
RM: I’ve read a lot about KABOSH…what’s up with that? It sounds like a really interesting project.
N9ne: That’s my rock project I’ve been putting off for years. Gotta get it right. I think we’re getting closer. I have this big album that I have to do then I’m going to look into it. That and the 816 Boys. We’re just going to keep moving. KABOSH is going to be my rock project and it has to be 100% right. I don’t want to have it just us rapping over rock guitars, that’s been done. I wanna make music, and that’s what I do.
RM: So, that record you just mentioned, is that the follow-up to 6’s and 7’s?
N9ne: Yeah, I just can’t tell you the title yet.
RM: What’s an album or two that I’m not listening to that I should know about? Your music, someone else’s music, just something I should have my ear to.
N9ne: The best of the Doors. You listen to their music and you’ll see why I named my label Strange Music after The Doors, after a rock band. You can get the Best of the Doors, you don’t have to get all the albums like I have them. You can get the best of the Doors and you can get a glimpse why I took to Jim Morrison so much. The fact that I wanted to name my label after what they built. Strange music, people are strange. That and listen to Tech N9ne – Everready.
RM: The last thing here…do you have any life advice, or words of wisdom for our readers?
N9ne: Celebrate life. Try and be happy as fuck because you never when you’re gonna go. You never when man is going to blow this place up so enjoy life while you can because it can be taken from us at any second. It’s all about having good vibes and being happy. Even though things are not happening exactly like you want them in life it’s got to be something that give you some type of sunlight. You got to reach for that sunlight because it’ll drive you crazy if you live your life sad, mad and distraught. Smiles, it’s all about smiles.