Tech N9ne: The Definitive Planet Ill Interview
Sometimes we measure what we have by what we have given up to attain what we have. Two decades into his journey, Kansas City emcee Tech N9ne has crafted a career and a fanbase that many artists, including those on major labels would (and have) sell their souls for. And yet nothing in this world is free. What presumably would be the cost for over a million independent records sold, constant touring, being the boss at your own label and being able to call the shots because you’re not in anyone’s pocket? Tech N9ne has paid a price far beyond those blood, sweat and tears you hear everyone talk about. Planet Ill got deep with him (after yours truly whiffed on the first question thanks to lack of sleep and a busy schedule). I promise you will find out something you can’t find anywhere else. Enjoy. The Definitive Tech N9ne.
Planet Ill: Techn9ne, Kansas City’s most incredible artist.
Tech N9ne: That’s what they say!
Planet Ill: That’s what it is man. I just saw you at A3C (2012) you and Krizz really tore it down.
Tech N9ne:Wow, brother thank you so much man.
Planet Ill: Being independent for almost 20 years you got a new album called Eveready [ed-note The kid really screwed this one up. Everready was from 2006. Got my albums mixed up womp womp]
Tech N9ne:Uh…Everready came out in 2006…
Planet Ill: Oh shit [laughter ensues]…man!
Tech N9ne:It’s all good, I got a lot of albums brother
Planet Ill: I know, I wrote up your last three!
Tech N9ne:It’s all good. The new album is called Something Else. To say that you have something else, after so many years is really a cocky thing to say. It should be same old shit. But it’s not. It’s called actually something else. Something else other than what you’re used to hearing from Tech N9ne. To say that so late in life is truly cocky and it’s actually true. I do have actually something else to give to everybody after all I’ve given already.
Planet Ill: Yeah. Your fan base is rabid and they know all of your stuff. How do you have the kind of courage to say, even though you’ve gotten amount of years of THIS from me, I’m going to go left and do something else. How do you have that confidence?
Tech N9ne:Well I was born with that; I’ve always been to the left. I don’t think I was ever going to be the normal cookie cutter type of musician, artist or whatever. I think it’s my upbringing. My mom my family raised me Christian. My mom married a Muslim when I was 12 studied Islam from 12 to 17 and I ran away from home and then I been on the street ever since. I was destined to be something else.
Planet Ill: Going from Christian to Muslim, that’s a God conflict for your ass.
Tech N9ne:I know that’s right
Planet Ill: how do you reconcile that? A belief system is not something you switch on and off like a light switch. What do you believe and how do you come to that universe?
Tech N9ne:I never shunned any religious teaching that I was taught, whether it be from Christianity, whether it be from Islam. I took a lot of discipline from Islam. I took a lot of love from Christianity. So I got the best of both worlds, discipline and love. I convey that to my kids and that’s why they’re wonderful. Man has his own way of messing things up.
They say that the Bible was written to keep law and order and a lot of these books are. You believe what you want to believe you take
what you take and you apply it to your life and that’s what I did. I did the same thing when I read about Shintoism, Taoism Confucianism, Buddhism, everything. Even Dianetics and Scientology. Just reading stuff trying to see what everybody is on. What everybody believes and out of all that man, you just gotta take what you believe and I was taught to believe that there’s a higher being; Creationism, thinking that there is a Higher Being like God or Jesus. But Darwinism says that it grows like a plant, like many Atheists think. You just take out of life what you take. I still pray. That’s all I can say.
Planet Ill: You spoke of family and it’s gotta be hard to maintain a relationship and be a father when you’re on the road that much. How do you keep that intact? Are you still married? How does that work?
Tech N9ne:Uh…it didn’t work; we are separated. We’ve been separated for almost a decade. But me and my wife are the best of friends. It’s impossible to be with somebody that’s married to their fans. That’s me. You know, it’s hard to balance both of them because I’m a hard worker, you know? And that’s how I take care of them. This is how I take care of them. Without this, there would be no college, you know what I mean?
Planet Ill: I saw an episode once. There was a dying musician and he had a doctor who was trying to heal him. The musician said to the doctor, “You know you’re a healer and you’re not married. And you’re not married because healing is your thing. Most people get married because they don’t have their thing.” And it seems that you got married but you have your thing and it didn’t work out. Do you regret that?
Tech N9ne:Yes. Because I promised that I would be 100. And I reneged on that. I will always regret that and I will always regret not being there with my kids every day. They love me whenever they see me, we have the best fun times but it’s like once, I used to live in that house. All that is regretful. I put a lot into this music and I expect a lot out of it because I’ve sacrificed so much for it. And that’s why I go so hard.
Planet Ill: You’ve remained independent your whole career and it has its benefits. Recently we’ve seen a lot of rappers on the mainstream who have taken that corporate money and now are subject to it. You see a Rick Ross rhyming, “I’ll die for my Reeboks.” And two weeks later he’s getting bounced from Reebok. How important is maintaining that integrity and maintaining that independence to you?
Tech N9ne:I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have to be in control of my destiny. I can’t have anybody telling me what I can and can’t do. My imagery is so shocking at times. A major label probably wouldn’t agree with Evil Brain, Angel Heart. I don’t care about that because I am the label and I get to use whatever the hell comes out of my head; out of my dreams. I put them on to paper and I record them and the dreams come to life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I have to maintain that integrity and we’ve done it for over 14 years, me and Travis O Guin, my partner in crime with Strange Music and we’re still on the incline while many of the major artists you don’t hear anymore. Makes me feel like Dracula!
Planet Ill: When it’s all said and done, what do you want your career to mean?
Tech N9ne:I want it to signify everlasting life in the music. I make music to last forever. That’s why my shows are almost two hours long because I’m still doing music from like the early 90s all the way up to 2013.I want it to signify that everlasting life. You can just have the picture of the Ankh but then the Ankh would be the key and the rest would say T-e-c-h-n-9-n-e. Tech N9ne. Everlasting life. Even when I’m gone. Immortalized through song.
Planet Ill: Your stage show is almost paramilitary in nature. Where did that derive from? Are you an army brat or is that something you picked up as far as motivating the crowd?
Tech N9ne:The show is military, man, and that’s another thing that I learned from Islam is that when you dress alike, for one, it’s intimidating. Because if I’m on one thing and there’s a guy dressed like me that’s 37 guys dressed like me, we might be on the same wavelength mentally, so if you messing with me, you’re messing with all of us. We’re together; we’re soldiers. So that dressing alike in uniform is intimidating. And it’s powerful. Military, that’s what I like.
Over the years, the energy, things that we do have been rehearsed to appease the fans; to take the fans higher. So me and Krizz Kaliko, we rehearse that shit. We know it’s important to teach the youngins how to elevate on stage as well as in the studio. To grow this thing we call Hip-Hop.
Planet Ill: Let’s send this out with a bang. End it with a big red cherry on top. What do you have left to say to the fans or give to the fans as far as Tech N9ne is concerned?
Tech N9ne:You have not heard the last of Tech N9ne. We’re still on the incline and there’s a lot more people that we have to reach and we’re coming. It’s not going to stay stagnant; it’s going to keep swelling. And it’s going to reach all the people that said that it would never reach them. It’s about to touch everybody. Global domination is what I’m after. And it’s happening right before everybody’s eyes and they don’t even know it yet. Here we come.