On Friday June 3, HipHopDX met Kansas City, Missouri emcee Tech N9ne at his Strange Music "compound" in Lee's Summit, Missouri. Hours before headlining a sold-out concert at KC's Midland Theatre, Tech N9ne spoke about a number of issues relating to his latest album, All 6's & 7's.
The veteran revealed which track on his just-released album was intended to be a collaboration with a fellow Wake Up Show disciple, Eminem. Tech also spoke about the role of metaphors in his verses, an apparent trait throughout his 15-year catalog, especially on this high-profile release.
Eminem's Intended Guest Spot On Tech N9ne's Album
HipHopDX: “So Lonely” is such an interesting song, and it can be looked at in a number of levels. I’m sure a lot of your listeners can relate to it…I can. But it also seems to be a song largely about fame and your place in the industry. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, but can you speak on what inspired that song as well as the very cleverly picked guests?
Tech N9ne: The way I came up with “So Lonely,” it’s really a narcissistic thing to say. And it’s cool, because I never get to be the narcissist. But I got to be the narcissist on a couple songs like “He’s A Mental Giant” and “So Lonely.” The whole thing behind “So Lonely” was to say, “I’m so up here. Where are all y’all at? Where’s my competition? It’s lonely up here.” That song was originally intended for me and Eminem. Nobody’s on our lyrical game. So when Em didn’t have enough time to do it, I put the song to the side. But then I started paying attention, and I started watching Blind Fury. And I said, “He can say the same thing, and nobody can touch him.” [Rhyming,] “It’s lonely up here / Ain’t none of my homies up here…” is like a big-headed thing to say. But it feels like a sentimental song, with the piano and things and the way Wyshmaster played it.
At the same time, it’s really cocky to say, “Been alone every since I started / To be an artist / I been disregarded / And I mean the hardest ever seeen…” It’s just saying that I’m so huge lyrically, ain’t nobody up here that’s messin’ with us. Blind Fury held that, and I already knew he could hold it. I seen it right before my eyes, and I’m already knowing that a lot of people can’t do what I do lyrically. [Saying something like,] “Follow me / All around the planet / I run the gamut / On Sickology / They could never manage / We do damage / With no apology / Pick ‘em up they panic / The little mannequins they gotta be / Frantic gotta jam it / 'Cause I’m an oddity…”
It’s not just because I’m rapping fast or whatever, but really making sense and putting lyrics together as mathematics. I already knew that I was up there, you know what I’m sizzlin’? So as a lyricist, it’s so lonely up here.
DX: A lot of artists who might not be as successful as you are, trip out because they have one song with a great metaphor and act like they just wrote “I Used To Love H.E.R.” Your album is filled with those. As a songwriter, how much do you like putting all that depth in your songs, where it applies on four different levels?
Tech N9ne: I think it’s a must to think deep and think different. I want the fans to hear something different every time they hear it, like, “Whoa, I can’t believe he meant that!” Or say, ‘I can’t believe he said that.” I’m playing tricks every time I’m writing to see if people will catch it. And usually, on down the line…if they sit down and listen, they’ll see I put a lot of work into my lyrics. Especially on this album, All 6’s and 7’s, I wrote about a song a day. And I didn’t have the time to do that for real. But that’s what I felt. So everything was written to have people catch it at certain times. When you listen to it the first time, you’re not going to hear everything I said. I think it’s way important to make the fans think and say, “Wow, that was dope. I liked it for the style, but now I like it because of what it means.” I think it’s a must to actually make them think and to put your brain into it.
I don’t have a problem with people rhyming just for the sake of rhyming. I’m a fan of it. But I was always taught to think different. So I put that in my rhymes, and I make them think different.
Tech N9ne's Balance In Writing His Lyrics
DX: What’s the ration in Tech N9ne’s music—or even on this album, since I know it’s constant evolution—between style and substance?
Tech N9ne: All my songs are 100% style and substance. I’ma show out, but at the same time I talk to you. On “If I Could” with the Deftones, I say, “I know I’m always gone / And I ain’t never home / And plus you barely ever hear me on the telephone / Just trying to sell a song / Until my bright angel is known / And my hell is shown / But if I rest / It’s just like all my mail is thrown / All away / All the day / Y’all will stay / Called away…”
I say so much, and it’s all like wordplay. I’m telling you a story that’s pretty sad, but it’s style and it’s substance. Just like my first major album Anghellic. My fans say “This Ring” is one of the best songs I ever wrote, and it has everything that I do lyrically. I say, “Got me a top-notch / Straight hot fox / We sought rocks / And the Ewok slot was caught / Got dropped too playing hopscotch / On the block / Ought not twat plot / Yo for hops knot / I brought dots…” And then it goes on.
I’m telling you that after I started doing this music, all the bitches wanna fuck now. Everybody’s checking for me now, and I’m telling you this wonderful story of how to balance fame and being a family man. And I’m losing doing it, but I’m telling you in a beautiful style so you’ll listen. So every song you hear on 6’s and 7’s—and all my music—is style and substance. That’s how you show off to me.
I could talk to you and say, “Hey I’m looking down on you niggas / Even though I’m 5’8” and 195 pounds on you niggas / So tall I can’t even hear any sound you deliver / But me and my partner never even see the hateful frowning you give us…” You know, that’s real arrogant. I’m saying they’re all the way down there. But I’m saying it really fast. It’s goin’! So I’m showing out and talking to a nigga like, “You can’t do this!” It’s substance and style, and that’s how you show out man. That’s the wonderful thing about Tech N9ne to me.
Video and Editing by Omar Burgess