Whether it’s used to brighten up an already great day or used as a therapeutic measure in time of need, Tech N9ne’s music is always there, comforting those who have found a deeper connection to tracks like “This Ring” and “Show Me A God”.
Some of those who are most in need of comforting and reminders of home are the brave men and women serving in the Army. Matthew Smith is one such individual, whose time with the United States Army has proven to be both inspiring and incredibly difficult. With nearly nine years serving the Army, Matthew has found Tech N9ne’s music to be truly motivating in hard times. Finding the positivity in Tech N9ne’s music has helped Matthew in his incredible journey that has taken him all over the world. With friends and family so distant, it is Tech N9ne’s that keeps Matthew strong and optimistic.
Like fans everywhere, Matthew has fond memories of his experiences with Tech N9ne’s music. Dating back to the first time Matthew heard Tech N9ne, the music has always been played a pivotal role in his life:
“Previous to me seriously devoting time to listening to Tech N9ne’s music I heard him collaborating on other musicians’ albums. Then I heard his verse on Potluck’s ‘Say What U Wanna Say’ and I was beyond blown away. The year was 2005. That year changed my life. I went out and bought, Absolute Power and Anghellic. For the next year I don’t think any other artist’s album ever made its way into my CD player. I was enthralled. Tech’s flows, lyrics, rhythm, range, and depth mesmerized me. His ability to speak to his audience is uncanny. He is able to talk about any subject and subjects that people can relate to. Regardless of my mood, where I am, or the events of my life there is a Tech N9ne song that speaks on the matter. When I was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky every time my friends and I went out into town for a night of drunken debauchery we would blast, ‘That Box’ and, ‘I’m a Playa’. When I was going through various Army schools I often played, ‘Keep On, Keepin’ On’. During my last tour in Iraq (2008-2009) I listened to everything put out by Strange Music but, ‘Red Nose’, ‘Paint A Dark Picture’, and ‘Hope For a Higher Power’ helped me a great deal. I don’t think I can adequately elucidate how much Tech N9ne’s music helped me through that year of my life. It helps me more than I can really express when times are rough to be able to turn on some Tech and just let the music flow. It sounds cliché I am sure but his music is so personal that it feels like you know him and listening to his music is like talking to a good friend when the world is at an extreme, it’s therapeutic.”
Although Matthew is extremely proud to serve in the Army, his time in far away places has proven to be very trying at times. Recalling how Tech N9ne’s music kept him going, Matthew shared his reflections on life in the Army:
“I have been in the United States Army since July 2003. I have been to South Korea, Iraq (2), Afghanistan (1), and served as a medic during Hurricane Katrina. Currently I am in FOB Shank, Afghanistan. I have been here since Oct. 2010. I go back to Fort Drum, New York in about a week. Deployments, like every part of life, have their highs and lows. There are times when I put on my iPod, crank the volume, and listen to, ‘Like I Died’ and cut lose. Other times I play, ‘Low’ and reflect on the difficulties. Tech lets you know that your station in life doesn’t change the fact that it is still life and you still have an uphill battle at times and then at other times everything is just as it should be. In 2006 I was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky and in 2008 I was sent to Hunter Army Airfield, Savannah, Georgia. I arrived there in August, I was put in A Company in September and I deployed in October with A Company to Iraq. I didn’t have any friends in the company. I didn’t have time to form those relationships before I was sent to spend a year in Iraq with them. I felt isolated and alone. My old unit deployed to Afghanistan and I stayed in touch with my close friends. Their deployment schedule was only two months off from mine.
While I was in Iraq Tech released, Sickology 101. I couldn’t get my hands on it but my good friend, Loren, a fellow Technician, bought an extra copy and sent it to me. That entire album helped me through. Not a day went by that I didn’t listen to that album at least three times. ‘Red Nose’ touched me. It truly described how I felt. I had a United States flag flown over Iraq during a combat mission in honor of Tech and to thank him for his music during that tour. Another example, this tour (Afghanistan), a soldier of mine found out that his wife was diagnosed with Lupus. He of course has had a head time dealing with the medical ramifications of the diagnoses. When he told this to me the first thing that popped into my mind was, ‘Show Me A God’ and ‘Mama Nem’. I had a long discussion with my soldier about the details and the following day I brought in the music video to, ‘Mama Nem’ and had him listen to it. I don’t know what he took from the song but I honestly feel it said something to him, even if it just let him know that other people are going through similar trials.”
Like a light in many people’s lives, Tech N9ne can guide listeners to better times. Matthew has come to understand why so many people relate to the music and why it is capable of changing lives. Explaining how deep the music’s emotions reach, he also opened up about his future and how he hopes Tech N9ne will always be there:
“Tech N9ne’s music inspires and touches so many people because it is real. His music is personal. He tells his fans about himself, life, and subjects that everyone experiences. His music has meaning. Too many artist talk about things that are irrelevant if they even talk about anything at all. They may have good music but they don’t have any meaning to the audience and I think that is one of the reasons that Tech’s music has such meaning to his fans. Not only is the music catchy but there is a meaning, a point, a purpose. Anyone can relate to some of Tech’s songs. Everyone has struggles, a dark side, concerns, and joys. You can find all of those in his music. There is a song for anything you will experience and if you listen, you will hear what he is trying to say.
In the service I am constantly moving, deploying, and training. I have to endure things that I wouldn’t normally have to endure if I was a civilian. I know that no matter what is going on I can turn on some Tech and it is something that is constant and familiar. I have a great family, amazing friends, and a wonderful wife but sometimes they are out of reach but I always have my Tech N9ne music. I know that next year I will be getting out of the Army after nine long years and I know that while I am tackling new obstacles I will have Tech N9ne playing.”
As Matthew carries Tech N9ne’s music with him, it’s clear how powerful and touching it can be. Technicians all over are spending their lives defending their country, and still manage to show their appreciation for the music that keeps them pushing. Even in places considered to be a world away, Strangeland’s borders expand, keeping everyone connected.
“Here are some pics of me with my, All 6’s and 7’s t-shirt with an AH-64D Apache Helicopter at FOB Shank, Afghanistan” –
-Victor Sandoval, Assistant Editor Strange Music
Follow Victor on Twitter: @VicMSandoval