Tech N9ne And ¡MAYDAY! Discuss Controversial New Song "The Noose"
Exclusive: The Kansas City King and a former MTV battle-rap champ breakdown the meaning behind their U.S. troops-inspired controversial collabo from "Welcome to Strangeland."
Save for a brouhaha instigated by parents, and inflamed by local media, this past April following the choice of a Kansas City high school as the backdrop for his and fellow K.C. artist The Popper’s “For The Mo” video, Tech N9ne has remained remarkably free from controversy in an otherwise celebratory 2011 for the king of independent Hip Hop (and star of Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter IV).
But never one to hold his tongue, Tech will be closing out the most successful calendar of his 20-year career with a bit of controversy thanks to his daring new song, “The Noose” .
In addition to the song serving as a platform for Tech to tackle a touchy topic, the second release from his forthcoming fourth “Collabos” album, Welcome to Strangeland (due on his 40th birthday, November 8th), following last month’s leak of album bonus track "Beautiful Music" , will also function as the formal introduction to the masses of Strange Music’s latest addition, the six-member Miami-based Hip Hop band ¡MAYDAY! The sextuplet is comprised of co-lead emcees Bernz and 2003 “MTV Battle II” champion Wrekonize, along with producer/keyboardist/guitarist Plex Luthor, percussionist NonMS, drummer LT Hopkins and bassist Gianni Cash.
Yesterday (October 12th), Tech and Wrek took some time before the Tucson stop of the Lost Cities Tour to talk to HipHopDX for the world premiere of the Plex Luthor-produced, Wrekonize and Bernz featured “The Noose” and addressed the song’s controversial title, its suicidal subject matter, and its intended purpose to support the struggling rather than shock the easily offended.
HipHopDX: In 2010 there were nearly 300 suicides of U.S. service members, and I know from your lyrics that this song was meant to be a tribute to the troops, but I have to ask if you have any concerns about [Wrekonize’s] line, “I’m hangin’ up the noose now, waitin’ for the end,” being interpreted by struggling troops in a way you never intended?
Tech N9ne: Man, I think for anybody going through that much hell, you [want to] predict your end and you don’t want nobody else [doing that for you]. I don’t condone suicide, but I’ve been around people that’s been in the war and was like, “Man, you kept me from killing myself [with that line from “Psycho Bitch II”], because I didn’t wanna go by the hands of another man.” I hear that every day on the tour. A lot of the troops that made it back come to me like, “Man, over there you just got me through it. A lot of days I just wanted to kill myself.”
And [Strange Music co-founder] Travis [O’Guin], when I did that song with ¡MAYDAY!, he said, “Hey man, you think you’d ever wanna go perform for the troops?” And I was like, “You crazy? I don’t care what’s going on over there, I’ll go to Afghanistan. I’ll go wherever!” I got a passport. I will go to show my appreciation, ‘cause I know it’s hard over there, man. I know it is, ‘cause I hear stories.
The fact that somebody would wanna take their life because it’s such hell over there, [that] touched me. And I had to speak on it. At first, I wasn’t sure if people would agree with what I said. I said, “For the young soldiers who, do exactly what they’re told to do / Damn, do exactly what they’re told to do / Defend their country and uphold the crew, but give my one and only soul for you? / Ese, that’s a hell of a job description / I don’t know if my God’s with this one / But I guess it’s the laws of sick men, send out youngn’s and they fall the victim / Of an evil clan’s plan / That’s why I be sayin’ blam !/ ’Cause on 9-11 I realized our fate is in another man’s hands.” I was speaking about George Bush. … It’s like, I had to touch on it, but when I first did it I was like, “I hope I don’t offend nobody.” But [then] I was like, “Fuck that! I don’t care if I offend anybody, that’s how I truly feel.” And I know that’s how a lot of these parents feel too. And I know it’s a lot of these young cats, and older cats, that go over there [that] feel the same way. So I just had to speak from a soldier’s point of view, because I’m out here with ‘em. They come to my shows, and they tell me stories.
I just did [a song] the other day with my group, K.A.B.O.S.H. It’s my Rock project. Our first song we ever did, it’s called “God of War,” and we speaking from a soldier’s point of view.
When I wear my soldier boots, it ain’t ‘cause I’m trying to be stylish, it’s because they over there fighting so we can fuck off on tour like this. I said [on “The Noose”], “While we chillin’ on tour, on the bus gettin’ sucked off / Know a family’s grieving ‘cause war is receiving their peeps and they’re crying their butts off / That’s why I give so much, when I flow bust / Why we got it so good? ‘Cause it’s so rough / For the young soldiers who, do exactly what they’re told to do.”
It’s crazy. And, I’m out here in it. I ain’t over in Afghanistan, but they are, and they come over and they say, “Tech, man, your music – ‘Riot Maker,’ ‘The Rain’ and all that – that really got me through over there. It’s just, being in that desert, it’s just horrible, man. It was so many days I wanted to take myself.” And I’m like, “Damn! Take yourself?” Ain’t that crazy?
DX: Yeah. So you see “The Noose” more as a deterrent than any sort of encouragement? It shouldn’t be interpreted [that way]?
Tech N9ne: Oh, no, no, no, no, no. When ¡MAYDAY! had that verse, and had that whole chorus, when I heard it I said, “Where is that going?” He said, “Nowhere.” I said, “I need it for my album.”
One of my homegirls was like, “I don’t know about naming it ‘The Noose.’ And you black,” and all of that. And I’m like, “No, to me it’s just saying I don’t wanna be taken by another man. I don’t want my fate to be in another man’s hands. So I’m hanging up the noose now, waiting for the end.” That’s how I looked at it.
I don’t condone suicide at all, because if you believe in The Bible [it says] that’s everlasting life in hell. So, I don’t condone it, but I understand …. Let me be the reason why I die. Not saying that I’m condoning suicide, but damn, some of these people think like that.
DX: Now, you mention in your verse that you visited wounded soldiers at Camp Pendleton. Tell me about what motivated that visit, and what happened during that visit.
Tech N9ne: They asked for me. That’s how much my music touches the troops. And when they called, they said, “I know you guys are on tour, but during the morning of this day what will it take to get Tech and some of the guys to come visit some of the wounded soldiers?” And we said, “It don’t take nothin’. Let’s go. They’re the reason why we’re doing this … and being safe.”
So, they called for me, and I came. And what I saw, man … These cats are younger than me. Dude, I’m about to be 40 [on] November 8th. I might move on stage and look like I’m 23 or 26 or something, but no, I’m about to be 40-years-old, man. And when I saw these 22 [and older] cats, man … with no legs, and in wheelchairs … they left hand is like a big, skin boxing glove – it’s skin, but it looks like a boxing glove [because] his fingers are gone, blown off by bombs and shit – it just hit me like, “Oh my God. This is real like a muthafucka.” We already know it’s real, but when you there and you see it – and they was so nice: “Thank you, Tech. Thank you so much” – I’m like, “Damn, I was just writing music from my heart, I ain’t know it was gonna touch everybody like that.”
When I went to Camp Pendleton I left there … I was like pretty fucked up, man. Like, we cry about the littlest shit over here. “Man, my bus ain’t right.” “This bus is dirty.” “Aw man, y’all ain’t got no chicken? Y’all got all pork ….” We trippin’ on shit like that, and these muthafuckas are over there taking bullets, and losing limbs. It just made me see [that] we got it great. We got it great, and these young dudes over there fighting for our freedom, homie. Fighting for other folks freedom over there [too].
It’s a controversial song. For one, it’s called “The Noose.” I had people say, “Maybe you should change the title.” It was already called “The Noose” before it got to me. And, I loved it. ¡MAYDAY! is – all of ‘em, they’re just wonderful artists. I’m so proud to have ‘em on my team because they brought that out of me. [Starts singing] “I’ve tried writing this letter now, several times before / When the party’s over and the liquor is no more.”
DX: I can’t believe that’s former MTV battle-rap champ Wrekonize singing that.
Tech N9ne: Yes! That’s him. He’s talented. Talented! Had that shit, played it for me on the last tour we were on, and I said, “I need it.” And when I sat down with it, that music, it just brought out Camp Pendleton.
DX: About the theme of “The Noose,” was your intention in what you were saying Wrek that you don’t want another man to take your life, you wanna be in control of that decision?
Wrekonize: Yeah, it was that, and it was also – Initially, it was more about just that feeling you get when you’re so fed up with shit that you don’t really know what to do, you really don’t know how to face any more of the shit that’s going on in front of you.
And then to take it into your own hands basically, to not get taken out by someone else. But it was definitely about a fed up feeling, and feeling like, “Damn,” when the negativity in the world gets the better of you. You’re overwhelmed with it and that’s the feeling you get.
DX: Do you have any concerns at all that your line, “I’m hangin’ up the noose now, waitin’ for the end,” along with Bernz’ final verse detailing an attempted suicide, might be interpreted by suicidal troops in a way y’all never intended?
Wrekonize: Um … I didn’t think – Well, ‘cause what happened was I wrote the joint before we went on the road with Tech. And it was kind of open-ended, it just had the first verse on it and the hook. So we didn’t really know what we were gonna do with it. We didn’t know where we wanted to put it. And then, once we played it to Tech [N9ne], he was like, “I’d love this for [Welcome To] Strangeland.” So we’re like, “Cool.” And then once he wrote his verse, he was telling us that he had just gone to Camp Pendleton. So he was telling us that he really wanted to take it to that area, ‘cause he had felt so strongly about his visit there. So then once he added that – ‘Cause I already had some concerns about [the song]. It’s definitely morbid, and the suicide stuff is a very serious note to touch upon. [But] I didn’t really think about it too much until I heard his verse, and then … I didn’t want it to have a negative effect, but at the same time to know that – I have friends that are in the military that have that feeling when they’re [depressed].
So I feel like in the end, even though it does touch upon a negative outlook on it, and it has a very morbid outlook, it’s something that sympathizes with the way that they might feel, which I feel like turns into a positive thing in the end.