Tech N9ne has never been scared of a little healthy competition, and you really need not look any further than the collaborative albums Misery Loves Kompany or Sickology 101 for further proof. But where previous efforts sometimes drew a line in the sand between collaborators his core audience would appreciate (Kutt Kalhoun, Krizz Kaliko) versus the occasional carrot dangled at the masses (Krayzie Bone, Chino XL), his most recent album, All 6’s And 7’s was a bit different. A roster of featured artists as diverse as B.O.B. and Blind Fury all changed their approach in varying degrees to enter Tech’s Realm.
The result was met with both critical acclaim and a top five sales debut. True to his stated goal of sparking the creative juices within himself, his peers and aspiring emcees, Tech N9ne broke down some of his methodology during the last of one of DX’s exclusive chats at the Strange Music compound earlier this summer. In addition to recalling how some initial skepticism from Lil Wayne inspired a song he’d wanted to make for a while, Tech also disclosed his hopes of securing Rick Ross and Jay-Z features on an upcoming Rock project.
Tech N9ne: [Laughs] Everybody asks me that. My fans say that to me, and “Why You Ain’t Call Me” is like obsolete now. I said that, and it’s like, right after I said, “Why you ain’t call me,” everybody started calling. So it’s a beautiful song—Jay-Z still ain’t said nothing yet—but I’m gonna go after Rick Ross and Jay [for features] on my Rock album Kabosh. I sent out for them on that, and Ross said he’s ready whenever.
I dig Ross, and I’ve always dug Jay. I did a tour with Jay years ago, and when I would see him, I’d nod and he’d nod back. He always had a bunch of people around him, and I didn’t want to crowd him. That was way back when Dame Dash was with him, and I’d be talking to Dame backstage near the food. And Dame would just say, “I always knew he was hot…always knew he was hot.”
DX: Without harping on the Lil Wayne aspect, Strange Music CEO Travis O’Guin was telling us about how “The Boogieman” game together. Can you explain that and how the first verse of that song ties in with visiting Wayne?
Tech N9ne: Yeah, it does man. E.I., who is one of Wayne’s managers, met me because we went up to Rikers on the wrong day. We thought it was Tuesday, but when we got up there, they were like, “No, the day is tomorrow.” So E.I. was in the parking lot telling me, “Wayne doesn’t believe you’re here, and he doesn’t think you’re coming.” When I asked him why, he said, “Man you’re the boogieman, Tech. We hear about you selling all these albums with no videos and no radio play, but we just hear stories.” So I said, “Well you tell him, the boogieman is real. And I’ll be here tomorrow.”
That’s what sparked the song. When I heard that J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League beat, I was like, “That’s ‘The Boogieman!’” I already had it in the back of my head because E.I. had said it. For years, I always wanted to do a song called “The Boogieman.” The face paint and all that kind of stuff is scary to a lot of people. They’re like, “Nah, I don’t fuck with that. That’s that crazy shit…I don’t know what he’s on. They say he’s a devil worshipper, and he must be. Look at him.” It looks more tribal to me, but whatever they want to say. I was saying that a lot of people come up to me saying, “I’ve heard the name Tech N9ne, but I just don’t know…I’ve heard stories.” So that’s why I say, “They heard the name / But can’t put a face with it oh what a shame / When it rains / In the woods he stands still…” You know what I’m saying—alone, by himself in Strangeland. “He took the lanes / From saint to straight wicked / Don’t tell me you ain’t heard the saying / The boogieman’s real.”
A lot of people really don’t know my face because it was covered up. So now you’re seeing a different me. What I mean by a different me, is it’s always been the king, the clown and the G. So now you’re seeing the G without no face paint. And then you see the face paint and ask, “Is that the same Tech N9ne from the ‘Wake Up Show?’” And then other people ask, “Is that old school Tech N9ne?” Yup, that’s me. And it’s wonderful to see people getting it now.