From his dark lyrical content to his madcap costumes and face paint, Missouri heavyweight Tech N9ne is one of the most explosive rappers to grace the independent scene, ever. Ironically, as shocking a rapper as Tech can be, the most surprising aspect about his latest "Collabos" album, The Gates Mixed Plate, is the riotous party-hardy content. Unfortunately, the album lives up to its name in more ways than anticipated as it proves to be a mixed plate of riotous hits and uninspired strip club anthems.
Tech N9ne is a ferocious lyricist, barking out frantic bars taut with internal polysyllabic rhymes. While many rappers seem to let their lyrics almost fall into place, Tecca Nina sounds as if every single word is painstakingly calibrated to perfectly fit his staccato enunciation. While the technical grace of his rhymes is stunning in its own right, the most important facet of his craft is that he can make such meticulously crafted style sound so effortless and organic. On the album’s stand-out track “O.G.,” Tech frenetically bounces over a sparse and funky beat, spitting, “Got on my 501’s and my gritter posture / I fit her proper / If she papered I'm in her choppers / Letting her know this Nina dinner cost her / And I'm finna squash her / So animal like somebody better get her doctor.” Tech N9ne’s delivery harkens to Kool G Rap’s crazed flow and Kool Keith’s off-kilter timing, making Gates as unique and wild a listen as ever.
This album proves is a complete 180 from last year’s K.O.D., finding Tech eschewing the sinister subject matter for more party-oriented themes. Tech details the shift in subject matter on “Harvey Dent” as he raps about wanting to move away from the “the paint and the evil frown” in favor of “be[ing] at the party bent listening to Parliament.” For most of the time, Gates does in fact sound like a party as Tech seems to revel in rhyming about money (“F U Pay Me”), women (“Gamer”), success (“What’s Next” and “Oh You Didn’t Know”), barbeque joints (“O.G.”) and of course, his favorite mixed drinks (“KC Tea”).
Of course, since Gates is the third installment in his "Collabos" album series, Tecca Nina brings along a bevy of guest artists for the ride. In addition to the numerous worthy features from Strange Music alum Krizz Kaliko, Kutt Kalhoun and Big Scoob, Watts' Jay Rock joins the Missouri Rap staple on the grind with “Paper” , while Glasses Malone backs up Tech as he takes on the Rap game with “Keep It One Hunit” . Yet perhaps the album’s best collaboration comes from Devin The Dude on “Afterparty,” as his laidback manner perfectly contrasts Tech’s rapid-fire delivery.
As the Gates comes to a close however, the party antics start to die down and the head-splitting hangover hits in full effect. Clocking in a 21 songs, the album loses steam towards the end as the sex-fueled party anthems pile up at an alarming rate and the bass heavy production plods along. Songs like “Too Many Girls,” “Far Out,” “Loud” and the unfortunate Techno-esque bonus “Doin’ It” belabor the fist-pumping point, while “Jumpin’ Jax” saps the sex appeal out of the strip club as Tech by trying to get one unlucky lady “…in the position of a pap smear.” Gates hits its low point on the mush-mouth sex anthem “Pu Wah Wah,” as Tech and company somehow manages to one-up Nas’ “Oochie Wally” with their incoherent jibber-jabber.
In addition, the album’s production proves to be a fairly stagnant affair as one muddy, crunk-lite beat segues into the next with very little distinction. While tracks like “F U Pay Me” and “Oh You Didn’t Know” make good use of the heavy drums and loud synth formula, others like “Far Out,” Loud” and “Pow Pow” don’t fare as well. Despite fairly weak array of beats, tracks like “O.G.,” “Harvey Dent” and “Need More Angels” provide a breath of fresh air with the latter of the three songs opting for a lighter sound that perfectly closes out the mess that preceded it.
Despite a number of top-notch tracks, The Gates Mixed Plate burdened by a heaping of second-rate stripper anthems and boring production. Although Gates is meant to be a celebration, the album ultimately plays out like The Hangover and somewhere down the line, Tecca Nina gets lost in the fun that he and his listeners are supposed to be having.