It shouldn't come as surprise that first week sales of indie rapper Tech N9ne's ninth album, K.O.D., eclipsed those of a star-endorsed, major label act almost 4:1. After all, while the majors depend on singles they service to radio to blow up, the indie labels - Tech's own Strange Music, for example - go on tour, rocking shows nearly every day in cities, towns and hamlets. And it's not always about the headliner: aside from his Strange Music artists, Tech brought super-group Slaughterhouse and Watts, California rapper Glasses Malone along for the ride on the K.O.D. Tour.
The sole remaining opening act on the tour is a completely new face to the game. Hailing out of Columbia, Missouri, more known for the Mizzou Tigers basketball and football teams at the University of Missouri's flagship campus located there, Stevie Stone is the quintessential underdog. But, signed to Ruthless/Sony (yes, the house that Eazy-E and Jerry Heller built still exists) and with a new album, the fittingly titled New Kid Comin' out, Stone's appears to be in position to compete.
On Getting Signed To Ruthless Records: "It was a blessing. I was in St. Louis, [and] got accepted to go to a Hip Hop and R&B showcase in Atlanta. [Ruthless Records owner] Tomica Wright wasn't there to see me perform, but she heard one of my mixtapes. She ran into one of my production team members down there, got to talking to him and my name came up. After that, she came to St. Louis and I performed. From there, she wanted to hear more music. So, she ended up coming back to St. Louis, seeing me live in the studio and after that it was a just matter of time for us getting it together. Six or seven months later, I was on Ruthless."
On His Start In Rap: "I first started taking Rap seriously in 2000. I was actually about to go play basketball at a junior college, on a full-ride scholarship. I did my first show, got buzz and have been doing music ever since. I've been grinding inside and outside my region, just been blessed."
Inspirations: "A lot of West Coast Hip Hop, such as B-Legit, 2Pac and Brotha Lynch Hung."
On how the K.O.D. Tour Opportunity Came About: "I've been cool with Tech [N9ne] for nine years, my first show was actually with Tech. Things happened and the situation was right, my album was coming out, we got Ruthless and [Strange Music] talking."
What Stevie Has Learned From Touring With Tech N9ne: "It's about getting up there and touching people. Some of these towns got nothing to do. When you have 3,000 kids with nothing to do, you just bring it to them. Another thing is this meet-and-greet. You don't find many rappers that go out and do sign autographs and take pictures before the show. For the fans to get up close and personal is huge, because that's how you get loyal fans. And also, just getting out there. A lot of rappers want 10 stacks to do shows, but not Tech. At the end of the day that's what it's all about, building fans and touching the people. Also, the way Strange Music maneuvers, it's almost like a military, they are touring 220 days a year. It's crazy."
About The Debut Album, New Kid Comin: "George Clinton - Godfather George Clinton is a featured guest on the album. I got my homie Tech N9ne, who is actually on the second single we pushing, 'Midwest Explosion.' It's a crazy album, a lot of diversity."