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|Out Of The Blue
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Midway through, reliving the moments when he drank wine with The Doors’ keyboardist Ray Manzerek, Tech excitedly ran back into his bedroom
and came out with his Strange Music backpack–on it was the signatures of all the remaining Doors' members.
“I had them sign my Strange Music bag and that’s all I wanted,” Tech said. “I will never lose this, they signed it with my silver pen too. That’s Ray
right there! (laughs hysterically) you know what I’m saying? This was never in blood that I’d be able to do a song with them.”
In an exclusive interview with Out Of The Blue, Tech N9ne discussed the high and low points of his extensively successful independent career, the
“Hostile Takeover Tour,” his relationship with tour mate Machine Gun Kelly, and technology in the independent age of music.
You’ve done a lot of touring, but do you think this is the craziest tour you’ve been on?
Yeah and with MGK on here (laughs). Yeah Slaughterhouse was really cool too and that’s one too.
What’s the difference as far as tours go with someone more wild, MGK, and a group that’s more conventional but more Hip Hop based?
Royce is way laid back, Slaughterhouse as a whole besides Crooked I is boisterous. Joell Ortiz, man he’s just a real lovable dude, Joe [Budden] is
real lovable too. All of them are pretty laid back. Cooked I just get drunk and Uhhhhh (laughs). MGK just turned 22 on this tour so it’s like he’s wild,
wild boy for real you know what I’m sayin? But everybody can’t deal with that, so I’ve been having to try to keep people at bay and having people
keeping close to me.
What’s the relationship been like between you two, you mention him being a young guy and obviously you’ve been doing this for so
long, so how has that factored into you two touring together?
Well I actually met him in person at the BET Cypher and we went out to eat after that, his people and my people we went to go eat Italian food and
we talked Anarchy me and him, we had that in common (laughs), then we went to a strip club with Waka Flocka Flame and French Montana and we
partied all night and I was like, “Yeah he’s cool, he’s a cool cat.” When the idea came for us to tour, I went to a couple of his shows when he was in
my area and I was like “Aw yeah, we can do this.” The thing about touring with him is that I just had to give him tips on how to have a calm tour and
not a turbulent tour.
Tech N9ne talks about the highs and lows of his independent career
Written By PAUL MEARA Interview By Paul Meara and Neil Shumate
It’s rare for one to witness so much sorrow and happiness
in one interview, but that’s exactly what happened when we
climbed into Tech N9ne’s immaculate tour bus, hours
before his evening performance.
During the Midwest leg of his record breaking "Hostile
Takeover Tour," the Strange Music record label headman
went from joyous elation in giving us details of his career-
milestone collaboration with surviving members of The
Doors, to a serious somber tone in explaining what he says
is his career dark spot.
“That’s been my biggest hurdle; you know what I’m
saying?” Tech N9ne said. “My people being afraid of me.
It ain’t what we're used to listening to, (They say) ‘That’s
weird, that’s white people shit’… It’s still going on, but
everyone is starting to listen now, like ‘Woah! Everybody
starting to fuck with this dude.’”
Tech N9ne reminded us that no matter how big you get, no
matter how many fans you have, there will always be a
childhood fan in all of us.
"This is the best thing I could have ever did
man, it saved my life."
"...it’s like I cannot hold back what I feel and I
will never do it. I will never conform
to no amount of money."
"I’m in it to spread music to everybody man and
when I’m missing a certain group of people, I
feel like something’s missing within me..."
"...no I’m not all over TV like everybody else, no
I’m not on the radio like everybody else 'cause
my shit is to the left."
"...I feel like if I can’t reach you with my music,
why the fuck am I doing music if I need like two
"It’s like a schizophrenic style and I love it 'cause
I don’t know what’s going to be said next."
You two have similar yet different styles. Both Midwest kind of guys, how
do you mesh musically?
My style has a lot more living, I’m 40 years old, he’s 22. So that’s the only
difference, I think he has the ability to go to the very top and his team is gonna
make sure. Sean Combs is gonna make sure that he goes all the way and the
thing about it is he’s got the talent to go all the way and he has the showmanship
to go all the way and to stick out. He has a motto and everything, “Lace Up,” you
know what I’m saying? He has people throwing up L’s and it’s stuff that’s very
catchy and I just told him, “All you have to do is do your job and all the bullshit in
between, don’t trip on it because your people are going to take you up here.
Nobody likes an asshole man, just keep going musically man, don’t let people get
in your head, just keep going up, it goes all the way up and you have a chance to
go beyond stars like we’ve been doing.”
Yeah and going off that with your own label Strange Music, how have you
been able to manage that but also be on tour and as one of the bigger and
most followed independent labels, what’s it like getting it independently
without the big machine?
Well I’ve been on several big machines. In ’93 I was on Perspective Records,
Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, they did Janet Jackson’s music "Control" and all
that. In ’97 I signed with Quincy Jones, he did Michael Jackson’s music (laughs).
In ’98, it was Interscope and after that man it was like nothing ever worked, so I
think this was the only way I could have done it because I’m not like anyone else.
I’m a total custerfuck. They didn’t know if it was rock, alternative, gangster,
emotional..it’s everything, so it’s like they had no idea what to do and I did. I just
knew real shit always shines. So starting from the bottom, just one T-shirt and a
hat, selling that and putting the money back in to get more things to get the
Strange Music logo on it, it’s everywhere now, we built it. We went to those towns
and did seven people like it was 7 thousand and when we came back to those
towns there was 30 people and then 100 people and that’s why it’s sold out tonight
in Columbus. It’s a wonderful thing and I think we need to build that and I wouldn’t
have had it any other way man, I’m not tripping. The hardest thing is, the majors
have more money, but you’ve got to pay all that money back if you used it, so this
is me and my partner and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. This is the best
thing I could have ever did man,
it saved my life.
It’s also easier to be seen with the technology age and it seems like more
and more people are staying independent.
I love that the youngsters are able to have it easier than we had it because that’s
why we’re supposed to do the groundwork, so it can be easier for the next
generation and technology had it to where we can put a video out on YouTube and
you can get over a million hits and next thing you know you get a record deal, I
think that’s wonderful. We utilize it also now, but (back then) we had to go to the
studio, we had to go to these towns and touch these people the old fashioned way
and that’s how I got my deal with Quincy Jones. The demo was sent and he loved
it, it’s crazy, that’s like one in a million. When you do Michael Jackson’s music and
you’ve got "Thriller" under your belt, that’s one in a million man. I love that
technology is able to make it easier for the young man because I found out about
a lot of people on the net. I would have never done music with Ceza in Turkey,
U$O in Denmark, all these people that I found on the web or they found me and I
think it’s wonderful that Krizz Kaliko can do like nine videos, like one verse videos
and put them out and get all those hits and views and the next thing you know, his
album was #4 up under Nicki Minaj, Drake and B.o.B. and he’s the only
independent right there on the charts at No. 4. I think that’s due to technology and
I’m all for it.
Strange Music and you’ve been known to do some strange things. You did some work with The Doors. I know you are reluctant to tell
the song title, but what was that whole experience like?
I can’t tell you the song title, I’m not really supposed to talk about it, but I did it. I couldn’t believe I was there because I was inspired in ’97 when I was
with Quincy Jones, I was inspired by The Doors. Big Doors' fan back then and before then and I was inspired to do this record label called Strange
Music because of their music. If it wasn’t for John Densmore’s drums, if it wasn’t for Robby Krieger’s guitar, if it wasn’t for Ray Manzarek’s keys and
Jim Morrison’s voice and spirit and mind, I would have never thought to do Strange Music and I was able to go to Paris in 2010 for a show and I
stayed there five days and I went to Pére Lachaise to thank him, I went to his grave site, found it, Pére Lachaise and I drank Jack Daniels and told
him, “Thank you” and it was never written in blood even when I met Jim in 2010 at his gravesite. It was never written in blood that I’d get to work with
the existing members. But this wonderful producer by the name of Fredwreck shared a studio with them and he heard my story and he’s like, “I got
an idea.” I was like, “Ah that would be wonderful.” Next thing I know I’m in the studio with them and we got reels with Jim’s vocals on it and you can
hear him drinking as he’s singing. It was just wonderful man. We did a song, they changed the song. It was supposed to be “People Are Strange”
but Robby was like, “The way that’s moving man this other one would be perfect.” We changed it the day before I came to L.A. to record with them.
We flew them all out, got them cars and hotels to get to the studio with us and um, we did it man! And me and Ray Manzarek we like red wine. I said
“What kind of red wine.” He said, “Red wine.” I was like “Pinot Noir?” He said, “Yes!” That’s my drink too! So I got to drink Pinot Noir with Ray and to
just kick it with them is just wonderful, it was totally wonderful. Ima show you this, hold on… (Goes to his room to get his backpack). I had them
sign, (points to autographs) Ray Manzerek, John Densmore, Robby Krieger, I had them sign my Strange Music bag and that’s all I wanted.
Yeah man you’re a fan too…
Aw man I will never lose this, they signed it with my silver pen too. That’s Ray right there! (laughs hysterically) you know what I’m saying? This was
never in blood that I’d be able to do a song with them. I know that Skrillex did one and that’s cool that they had him do what he wanted to do but this,
this is my background Strange Music. They inspired me to do this snake on the bag. How did Jim Morrison inspire me to think of that? (laughs). It’s
crazy but “Strange Days” and “People Are Strange” I mean those are popular songs, but those aren’t my favorites but I love em. “Five To One” is
one of my favorites, “Riders On The Storm,” “Love Me Two Times” I got everything dude, if you go back in my room, I’ve got Doors records from
back in the day and the whole discography and everything, it’s the craziest thing and that’s why this is a big thing. Whenever it comes out on my
new album, it’s gonna be a big story for sure if Ann O.K.’s it. His wife, the Black Magic one.
So that song might be on your new album?
Yeah, yeah she just has to say it, the managers, The Doors’ manager, he was in the studio, I met him, he kicked it with me and he said, “We’re
80/20 (percent).” But he said we’re good friends, so yeah. First they were tripping off my name was the name of a gun, but this is Jim Morrison
That’s awesome to see someone so big being such a fan of someone else that’s legendary.
I’m just a fan of the music. They heard my story and they did it. They like my whole movement, that I’m independent. So I was blessed that I was
able to do it and I’ll never forget it even if Ann says, “Well, no I don’t like the song,” and we have to just sit on it. I still did it and I’ve got those
memories. We got it all on tape and everything. My people brought all the cameras and everything. John Densmore had to come by himself 'cause
he doesn’t really talk to the other members and his ears are bad and he doesn’t tour with them 'cause he can’t take the loudness, so we had to do
everything low when we were in there. The next day Robby Krieger and Ray came in and was like boom, John was cool too man, they told me John
was gonna be the hard ass and he was cool as hell, chillin'. There were so many cameras though that day that when Ray and Robby came in, the
label had gotten wind from John Densmore that he felt ambushed, like there were so many cameras and dudes that we had to calm it down and
have them stay outside and just have the little camera in here and not the big ass red camera in his face while he was doing it (laughs).
So you would probably say that’s the highlight of your career or one of the highlights of your career?
One of them, I’ve got a lot of them. I did one with Eminem in ’99 on the Wake Up Show, I did one with Tupac in like ’96, I think it was “Thugs Get
Lonely Too,” I think it was ’96 I’m not sure. I did one with Roger Troutman in 2001 before he died, I’ve got a couple of them that I did, I did one with Ice
Cube (laughs) he was like my idol, I wanted to be him when I was younger. I did some beautiful things already. I just did one with the Deftones, I did
that on my All 6’s and 7’s album. They came to a show in LA and everything, wonderful thing.
You’ve had a lot of highlights, but what has maybe been one of the biggest struggles you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
I’m still overcoming it, it’s starting to break now, (it’s) my people thinking I’m a devil worshiper because I paint my face and I don’t know how,
because I have red spiked hair? They not coming to my shows, but now that BET put me on the cypher and Wayne put me on The Carter 4 and
Andre 3000, everyone like, “Woah he can rap!” But I don’t sound like a devil worshiper.
Yeah and you had him on All 6’s and 7’s.
Yeah that was the favor he did for me after he put me on such a big album and a
big cut, yeah man. (Pauses) I’m starting to see more black folk come to the
shows. That’s been my biggest hurdle; you know what I’m saying? My people
being afraid of me. It ain’t what were used to listening to, “That’s weird, that’s white
Yeah, that’s interesting.
Yeah that’s my biggest hurdle man. It’s still going on, but everyone is starting to
listen now, like “Woah! Everybody starting to fuck with this dude.”
I just make wonderful music and I want people to enjoy it. If I just set out to make
money, then I wouldn’t trip like “Fuck you niggas, I’m getting money,” you know
what I’m saying? But I’m in it to spread music to everybody man and when I’m
missing a certain group of people, I feel like something’s missing within me and I
fight to try to get them to hear me and the more I go out in the street. When I go to
New York, it’s all black folks. “Tech N9ne!” In the street like “Woah! Where you
niggas been all this time?”(laughs). And it’s like they’re not scared of me no more
and they say to me in New York, you got lyrics and that’s a big thing and they
show me love and it’s so wonderful to see it happen after all these years. After my
people saying, “I don’t wanna listen to this shit.” And all the people that they listen
to from Rick Ross to Wayne to whoever they listen to, Ludacris, Waka Flocka,
Gucci Mane, whoever they listen to they all love me and I tell them I’ve done music
with all of your leaders and they praise what I do, I don’t know why you're not at my
shows. I did a song called “Message to the Black Man” about the situation. It was
harsh (laughs) and I ended like “Rockin sold out shows is where I'm gonna be
And thats all I sell out its something you should see nigga
/ Betcha would
come see nigga /
If I told you it was free nigga (laughs).” Ooooh (laughs) and that’s
the truth! And it’s like I cannot hold back what I feel man and I will never do it. I will
never conform to no amount of money. I don’t give a fuck, no I’m not all over TV
like everybody else, no I’m not on the radio like everybody else 'cause my shit is to
the left and it’s coming and real shit always shines and it’s happening on it’s own
and I don’t have to do anything to change or anything to fit a mold so I can make
millions and billions of dollars. I wanna make them on my ideas man. Like they
want me to be on Twitter more like, “Tech you need to tweet more.” In my mind I
understand it 'cause I know it’s the digital age and everything…
And people wanna know everything about you.
Yeah they wanna know everything, but I’m kind of like a secretive dude except within my music I let you know and in the back of my mind I’m
thinking, “If I need Twitter to sell fucking music then I shouldn’t be selling music.” That’s what I feel man and I know that’s counter-productive to a lot
of people, but I feel like if I can’t reach you with my music, why the fuck am I doing music if I need like two million followers so these people will say,
yeah I don’t care we’re gonna give you this. I don’t need anything. The people that wanna do sponsorships they’re like, “well does Tech only have so
many followers?” And I hear my people say, “We’re gonna get those up, don’t even trip about that.” They say, “How does he have this many
followers but he sells this many records?’ Cause I don’t fuck with Twitter like that! (laughs). I tell them what I want them to know, not “I’m taking a
shit right now,” or “I got outta the bus and a car almost hit me.” I don’t wanna do that shit man. I’m gonna live my life and record my music. I’m gonna
reach you and God bless you.
Yeah have you been recording at all lately? I know some artists do record on the road sometimes…
Hell no, not me. When I’m on tour I cannot write. There’s too many things going on on the bus. The way I write is like no other, I rhyme my life and if
I’m just writing words and shit like the majority, then it would probably be a cinch for me to do it.
Do you have an album title yet for what’s coming?
Yeah, but it’s kind of like K.O.D. I can’t tell anybody it 'cause it’s gonna be a surprise like, “What!?” It’s gonna be real simple too. Everyone thinks it’s
gonna be real intricate, but nope (laughs). But it means a lot.
You did drop Klusterfuk and a lot of people have been feeling it. How has the reaction been from what you’ve seen?
Better than I thought because it was like Mayday! doing different types of beats that my fans never heard me do, and I was worried but Iove new
music and Iove taking turns so I felt it and that’s how I do it. If I feel it, I’m gonna do it. My fans don’t feel everything I do and they shouldn’t 'cause I’m
three-dimensional. I do sexual music, I do hardcore music, I do sentimental music, it’s everything. It’s my whole life so some people like the more
sentimental shit, “I don’t like that fuck music, that sex or whores, bitches and tities in every line like that.” But they’re supposed to disagree 'cause if I
did one thing, I’m sure I’d have a sea of people that would just love that one thing that I do. I don’t only rap fast. I do everything, I slow it down. People
want me to rap fast all the time and I’m like fuck no I hate writing it but I do it wonderfully. I’m an actual dude that writes what he feels man.
Do you do that so you don’t get burnt out on one particular genre?
Oh totally man, totally. The beats tell you what to do. I have to be, it’s like a schizophrenic style and I love it 'cause I don’t know what’s going to be
said next. Something will come off the television, watching Ace Ventura and I might hear him say, “Bumble bee tuna” (raps really fast) (laughs) and
it’s just so schizophrenic and I love it.
And you first started rapping with your name?
Yeah capital A, little A, R-O-N. That’s how my auntie and my mom taught me how to say it. That’s crazy. That’s back in the day man. I remember
that too, being on the couch listening to them and looking up at them and trying to do it.
The record breaking Hostile Takeover Tour concludes on July 6. Visit Tech N9ne's official website for more.
Interview: Machine Gun Kelly
Photos: Tech N9ne, Machine Gun Kelly, Stevie Stone, Mayday, Prozak