“I was born in November, eighth day, 1971st, y’all/ Nine o’clock in the morning, a Christian girl in Kansas City gave birth, y’all…” It’s curious hearing Tech N9ne recount his origin story on the opening track to Klusterfuck, his latest six-track EP. It’s curious, because by now the quick-spitter is known across the world – his career and background is no longer the stuff of a cult or hallowed local secret. But Tech also occupies that middle-ground position where he’s never broken through to the mainstream – he’s not a name that rings bells of recognition from those casual fans who know rap to be Jay and ‘Ye and Ricky and Wayne. But it’s a floating role Tech plays exquisitely, recognizing that it offers him a guaranteed fan base without the shackles and pressures that come from being a toy of the majors; it’s a position that is the key to his unbridled creativity and freedom of speak. Klusterfuck, as expected, is another smart addition to his vault.
Despite being known for his ability to rap at warp speed, it’s Tech’s song-writing that shines through here. So the song “Klusterfuck” quickly turns into a musing on religion, with Tech talking about the trials of growing up having converted from Christianity to being a Muslim, while “Awkward” has him telling tales with twists (including a non-rapped anecdote about a young ATLien that we’ll call B.o.B., some firearms, and the phrase “then he did his hand like a gun thing.”). And even though Tech’s trademark lyrical thrills are as bewitching as ever, he never just spits for high-octane kicks: on songs like “Blur” his voice is all nuanced and malleable, not so much hooked around him firing off syllables for sport as warping and bending his vocals to punctuate the beat. It’s a lyrical performance that suggests close to a mastery of his art.
So while Klusterfuck doesn’t contain anything likely to catapult Tech way out into the masses – and that’s not the EP’s ambit anyway – it’s another rousing example of why the Kansas City kid is one of Hip Hop’s true gems.