Given the chaos enveloping the world and his status as an artistic visionary, Tech N9ne realized he could create the change he wished to see. The pioneering platinum Kansas City rapper spent about a year crafting Planet, his remarkable new album that represents a world much different from the one we inhabit.
“I wanted to create my own planet because this one seems to be having so many problems with hatred and murders,” Tech N9ne explains. “I just wanted to leave this planet by creating my own, with love and hella lyrics.”
Tech N9ne’s lyrical supremacy and appreciation for love shines throughout the Planet track “Levitation.” Here, Tech N9ne raps over ethereal sonics about how the adulation he gets from his supporters makes him feel like he’s floating.
“I feel like David Blaine when I’m on that stage,” Tech N9ne reveals. “But the love I get when I’m on the same level as them, like at the meet and greets, when they’re not looking up to me and they’re looking straight at me saying that my music kept them alive, that my music helped them through their mother’s death, that my music helped them through suicidal thoughts and is the reason they’re here now, that’s beautiful. When they say that what I went through with my mom lessened their pain to know that somebody that they look up to is going through the same thing, it makes me feel like I’m levitating. They hold me up high, put me up high because I can save lives, like a doctor or a paramedic. That makes me feel like I’m levitating, the people and their stories of how I helped them through life has me floating.”
Tech N9ne then delivers what will likely become one of his signature songs with “We Won’t Go Quietly,” an elegant and eloquent piano-accented track where he examines the roots of racism, emotional pain and fear, and notes how to overcome them with a loving and caring spirit. The source of Tech N9ne’s optimism came from a special person in his life.
“The whole song was based around love, and I learned to love from my mother,” Tech N9ne reveals. “Since I’m trying to bring everybody together instead of separate and discriminate, the whole basis is love. If we didn’t fear each other, we could stand near each other. My mother’s last words to me were, ‘Liberty and justice for all.’ She just kept saying it. That’s why the gist of the song is togetherness with love, since that’s what we’re lacking on this planet since I’ve been on it.”
Ever since Tech N9ne’s been on the planet, though, his love of hip-hop culture (graffiti, breakdancing, DJing and rapping) has been a driving force in his life. One of the songs that helped shape him as a breakdancer was Hashim’s “Al-Naafiysh (The Soul),” the famous 1983 dance track best known for its up-tempo beat and futuristic, robotic “It’s time” refrain. Today, Tech N9ne pops with his tongue, and wanted to remake “Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)” as a nod to his childhood. The resulting “Tech N9ne (Don’t Nobody Want None)” reflects Tech N9ne’s b-boy background and his lyrical gymnastics as his undulating and varying flows match the song’s mystic aura.
“It’s an honor to be able to re-do ‘Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)’ on my record to pay homage to all the breakdancers and all the DJs, all the dance crews,” Tech N9ne says. “That’s me. I just started rapping and it took the place of my dancing.”
Now that Tech N9ne focuses on rapping, he takes the craft seriously, approaching it as the master craftsman that he is. On the bouncy “How I’m Feelin’” with Snow Tha Product, he flows in normal, single and triple time to demonstrate that rappers can excel while employing a variety of flows. It’s an exercise in top-tier floetry in defense of rap’s expansive artistry.
Elsewhere on Planet, Tech N9ne utilizes a stop-and-start style on “Drink Up” over a striking EDM aural collage. Then, with “No Reason,” Tech N9ne takes a confrontational approach. Backed by a menacing soundscape that matches his abrasive words, the Strange Music head uses middle finger energy to go after a bogus label that emerged in 2016 with a name strikingly similar to the one that Tech and partner Travis O’Guin have been building for more than 15 years. “How dare you try to steal that name, Strange,” Tech N9ne says rhetorically, “after so much work we’ve done, and dilute it like that?”
Indeed, Tech N9ne and his Strange Music have become iconic rap brands, so he has good reason to be protective of his musical turf, his family, and his legacy. Fiercely independent since the early 1990s, Tech N9ne and Strange Music made their mark by creating mind-blowing music, touring relentlessly, delivering one of rap’s best live shows, dominating the merchandising game, and cultivating legions of fans around the world who swear by Tech N9ne’s music and the Strange Music brand.
The proof of Tech N9ne’s reach is evidenced by several metrics. On the sales front, he earned his first platinum plaque June 20, 2017 with “Caribou Lou,” a standout selection from his 2006 album, Everready (The Religion), a remarkable feat given that the song was released 11 years earlier. As a performer, Tech N9ne also regularly does more than 150 concerts a year, headlining his own domestic and international tours, and appearing at festivals and special events. He does this while releasing albums, compilations, and working on the projects from his stable of artists. This steady and successful work is the reason Tech N9ne remains a fixture on Forbes’ Cash Kings list.
Now, after focusing on creating the world and vibe in which he and others can thrive, Tech N9ne is ready to share his latest masterwork, one overflowing with an optimistic take on mankind and its potential.
“I went on my own planet and did my own thing,” he says. “I wasn’t worried. I was relaxed constructing my planet. I didn’t have to worry about time restrictions or anything because it was coming like water.”
Welcome to Tech N9ne’s Planet, a utopian melding of message and musical mastery.