I love those times in life when you get a pleasant surprise in a place where you wouldn’t expect it. This time, it was in the company of the most successful independent artist in history, with over a million records sold “out of the trunk”. That’s right; I’m talking about the Midwest quick spittin’ Tech N9ne, with his homeboys Krizz Kaliko and DJ Chill.
After his set at his Los Angeles leg of Rock the Bells 2009, I caught up with the trio backstage amongst the silent, mean mugging crews of everyone in attendance. Before sitting down with the crew, I was introduced to Tech’s lovely daughter, whom he called “Rainbow”, and told her he would hurry it up with a laugh. I hear how hard it is on the road to get family time, so I got to business.
Here’s the transcription/summary and unedited audio clip from the interview. Enjoy!
Flak: …and things are moving ahead, and I really appreciate you guys talking to us by the way.
Tech: Yeah man no problem
Flak: I’ve got questions for both of you, but first of all, thank you for Caribou Lou (a drink invented by him, with a song of the same name)
Tech and Krizz: *laughing* Aww yeah man!
Flak: My mom, she lives in the Bahamas, and that’s like…their thing “you’ve gotta get Caribou Lou!”, I told her I was meeting Tech N9ne today and she was like “Say what’s up!”.
Tech: Yeah man, since 1995, Caribou Lou…
Flak: Has it been that long?
Tech: Yeah since 1995..
Flak: I see..You know I’m curious, I see all these artists together at a show, and I wonder, who are you listening to right now?
Tech: Who am I listening to right now *he leans back a few seconds and thinks about it* …ummm, of course we listen to Gnarls Barkley like crazy *looks and Krizz as he nods*
Flak: Really? *I was genuinely shocked for some reason*, you ever met em or...
Tech: Nope, never met em…I wish, but never met em…I think the closest we ever got to them was Big Boi and Sleepy Brown (who were in attendance that night) gnomesayin…
Flak: Yeah and the whole Dungeon Family, gotcha…
Tech: Umm who else... System of a Down man…Slipknot….
Flak: Yeah I heard you wanted to do a song with Serj Tankian (of System of a Down)
Tech: Yeah man I do.
Flak: And what made you think of that?
Tech: *Tech makes a pondering face before shrugging and answering* I’m a big fan…since the beginning.
Flak: Have you ever seen them play? They put on a great live show; I saw them with The Mars Volta.
Tech: No, and I’ve only seen them on tv, and one of the first things that I ever heard was Sugar. “Sugahhhhh”.
Flak: Right right.
Tech: You know what I’m saying? *he goes on to sing a part of the first verse*, that first single, that video man, ever since. And uh…Mesmerize, Hypnotize, Toxicity, Steal This Album…it was just hardcore. And I think System of a Down their first album was self titled.
Flak: Right, That’s the one that had Sugar on it.
Tech: Yeah Sugar and Peephole was my first, my favorite one yeah uh *Tech starts clapping the beat of Peephole* “When your stars are baked, And your rivers fly, Do you ever believe you were stuck out in the, sky!!!”
Flak: *after the heat builds up and calms from us singing along* Yeah man, you’ve gotta see em live
Tech: Yeah I heard that a lot, but we tour so much that we miss everything, gnomesayin, but that’s a good thing and a bad thing. You know cause we’re music lovers… and I’d like to work with Eminem…you know? I buy those albums. I buy Shinedown. I buy Avenged Sevenfold.
Flak: *This is where the intrigue really set in for me* Really? Well what do you think about…well, as far as when I was growing up, it wasn’t cool for me…you know, I came from a town where there wasn’t a lot of black people. And it was not cool to listen to quote unquote the white music.
Tech: Me too, but I grew up in the ghetto you know, Wayne Minor (a housing complex in Kansas City) and my family was….eclectic you know? There was some odd stuff going on, and some Led Zeppelin and some of The Doors, and Rush going on; as opposed to I mean, Blowfly and Schooly D, which turned me into this. Which is wonderful.
Flak: And now do you think it’s more accepted you know to listen to that? (Tech nods and says “yeah man”) You know, as far as black people listening to it?
Tech: Yeah I do.
Flak: And now it’s like we’ve got guys like Lil Wayne trying to get into the rock thing.
Tech: Yeah and I’ve been on it for a long time, like when Rock This Way was poppin, you know, when Rick Rubin was making these guys mix and merge and mesh you know what I’m saying? It’s a wonderful thing to have The Beastie Boys with No Sleep Till Brooklyn. Merging rap with rock.
Flak: Yeah they were supposed to be playing at the end of this month in San Francisco (at Outside Lands Music Festival), but one of got injured or hurt?
Tech: Damn, that keeps happening with them. But…I’m glad….that I could be exposed…to something like Lynard Skynard…being a nigga from the hood! *Laughs* Yeah man and I hate that I missed as I got older I found out about more about these other musicians like Terry Reid with Seeds of Memory, gnomesayin? And Pink Floyd and all that madness, I hate, like, when you’re in these places (referring to the ghetto), it’s so…one-sided. “Alright, all we’re going to listen to is Marvin Gaye” and I got all of that, on top of classical, on top of rock, on top of gospel, and I mean…on top of jazz…that turns into *he then spits a furious flow that I spend fifteen minutes trying to transcribe to no avail*
Flak: *after nodding in amazement* Yeah man, and you were the first one doing that shit.
Tech: Yeah that Midwest shit. And it’s like being in Kansas City, Missouri…right there in the middle…we got music from every direction. And when you have me and Krizz both going, it’s a musical overload.
Flak: *I turn my attention to Krizz Kaliko* So what about, Krizz, so you’re trying to work with, or so I’ve heard, that you’re trying to work with or already you’ve worked with Kottonmouth Kings right?
Krizz: Aww yeah *he gave me that “you silly boy look*, those are our cousins man! *laughs*
Flak: That’s like your group? Well not group but…
Krizz: Nah not group, but they’re like our brothers. We ended up having fans in common, did a couple of tours with em, gained camaraderie with em and then started doing music together. But I mean I work with everybody, cause I pretty much go everywhere with my music. If you check out my album Genius, it’s out now; you’ll hear we go through every genre of music. I worked with Tech…and I would love to be working with Gnarls Barkley, Outkast; I’m like really influenced by people that are unique.
Flak: Right and you guys are doing a lot of work, because technically between the two of you, you have three albums coming out this year, you know, one more on the way.
Tech: We put out album after album man, and I was walking and talking with Tech and I’m like man…I was walking to the van, and it’s like bus…van…stage…plane…sneak a meal in…bus,van, stage, plane. You know? And when you’re not doing that it’s like…studio! *laughs* Then it’s back to the bus, van, stage, plane, then back to the studio.
Flak: So it’s taxing.
Krizz: It is, but it’s what we asked for and the way we go about doing it, because we have to be in their face all the time. We have to keep putting out albums; we have to keep touring for our albums. Because we aren’t really on TV, we have to be in their face all the time. And the result is there, million sales…
Flak: Yeah you guys have done it bigger than anybody.
Tech: Number one indie in the country man. Woke up one day on tour and…wow.
Flak: And yeah it’s funny because people think that they’ve never heard you before, and I tell them you guys are all over TV shows.
*a knock on the door interrupts us*
Krizz: Hmmm…excuse me…
Tech: That’s weirrrrd. *we both laugh*
Flak: Maybe time’s up? I dunno…
A young lady with the duo asks to use the bathroom in the trailer, whilst a lithe man with braids, holding a cup of Hennessey approaches. It’s none other than Tech’s DJ, DJ Chill.
After introducing himself as one of newest members of “Tech N9ne n’ them” we all laughed and I exchanged dap with him. He goes on to list some of the great names in hip hop, E-40, Busta Rhymes, and talks about quick rapping, and how all they have worked for goes farther than that, he talks about rapping period. He praises Tech for how much heart he puts into his work, and how he also got flak (finally get to use that in its correct context!) from his hood.
He brought up a good point about how some rap where you almost predict what they are going to say next, whether it be cars or money, or women, and with Tech you could never do that. It’s a good point a true hip hop aficionado has discovered by now. The line stuck in my head of when DJ Chill explained that it had nothing to do with him being Tech’s DJ or friend when he said flat out: “Nigga’s just ain’t…fuckin with you”, to which we all shared another laugh.
He asked the listeners and readers to think for a minute how you can hear the heart of Tech in his music, and how you can feel what’s happening in his life through his music. I bring up the Cunninlynguists quickly before he continues.
I argue that that’s what hip hop is supposed to be about, and they agree. Naturally. He goes on to say that Tech is the realest because he gave his life, his soul, even his wife and kids on occasion for what he does. We discuss the idea of putting everything you have into something that you love, hoping that it will work; something we all had struggled with.
I talk about how people forget that musicians are real people, and how people forget they have a real life. Chill made a funny comment about their struggle: from the van, to a bus, to a tour bus, to two or three tour buses, to international travel, and how he had to “break himself” for a passport. Definitely the hardest laugh of the interview between us all. That’s hip hop.
After DJ Chill makes his exit on a beautiful note, Krizz and I talk about how he really puts himself into his music.
Flak: And you really put yourself into your music. Vitaligo as a title. You’ve got Bipolar as a song title (both things that Krizz has to go through) and so people actually know about who you are. You’re comfortable with yourself. And something a lot of people can’t say.
Krizz: But the thing is, I’m really not.
Flak: Are you not? Really? *he had me fooled*
Krizz: I let them know that too though. I’m comfortable with who I am, what happens to me, as a byproduct of what the world is like…
Flak: …that you’ve got flaws just like anybody else.
Krizz: That’s right. That’s what it is. I’m not comfortable with the flaws, but I’m comfortable enough to tell everyone about it. And its therapeutic.
DJ Chill pops his head in: “And look at you now!” Everyone shared one final laugh before our hugs and sendoff.
An amazing time with Tech and his crew, and it made me realize that there are more music lovers who are willing to say fuck it to those who treat them poorly over silly issues as what music they listen to, or what dress styles they posses.
Big big thanks again to Megan over at Juggernaut Sound for hooking us up with the honor of working with the hardest working men in the industry in this interview with Tech N9ne. Make sure to look out for K.O.D., Tech’s upcoming album on October 27th (but I’m sure I’ll remind you about it). Hope you all enjoyed another interview here at Behind the Hype. Holler at Dan Huse for the great photos!
Until next time my friends,
P.S.- Don’t forget who got you the heads up on those awesome collaborations we talked about in this interview!