With Strangeulation, Tech N9ne has the most elite entry to date in the history of the collabos albums.
Why? To put it simply, there’s too much talent on the roster. In fact, there’s so much dopeness going around that even some of the established artists on the roster had verses that didn’t make the cut. With the world looking to the Snake and Bat, now is no time to slack when it’s time to lay down music of the highest caliber.
Tech N9ne talks to us about what went into the album and how he went about picking what made it and what didn’t make it. Along the way we learn that Seven might be producing with the assistance of poltergeists. Tech also ends the interview with some very pointed words for naysayers.
Read on and find out why this will be the best collabos album yet.
When did you know you wanted to do this album and once you knew what was the general direction that you wanted to take it?
Travis always hits me when I’m on tour like “Hey man, what you think about doing a label album again? We gotta do one this year, a collabos. It’s time.” And I wanted it to say “Strange” something. “I want Strange to be in it.” First I said Team Strange and I’m like “Nah,” then I’m like “Strange Gang” and I’m like “Nah.” I sent those two and he’s like “Nah” and one day I came up with Strangeulation out of my dream. I came up with the meaning too. I typed it to him and it said “The act of Strange Music artists collectively having the industry in a chokehold.” Like if you’re in a chokehold you’re not going to be able to say shit but choke. You’re saying nothing. You ain’t going to be able to say nothing after they hear this shit so it had to live up to that.
That’s the hard part: if you’re gussin’ like that it’s got to be something that can stand up to what’s going on out there. So we did the first couple songs: “The Calling” “Fear” and it was like where we left off on Something Else. I played the songs to Travis and them and the first thing everybody said, Dave Weiner and all of them, “This is going on a Collabos? These are massive songs!” I told Travis and Dave and them “I can’t do anything but go forward from where we left off.” We left off on shit like “Believe”, “Fragile”, “See Me”, all these wonderful songs on Something Else. “Love 2 Dislike Me” “B.I.T.C.H.” with T-Pain and “That’s My Kid”. Man the list goes on. Massive songs, “Fortune Force Field” my nigga.
Yeah, epic shit.
Yeah. So epic shit has to keep going. I can’t pull it back. Seven can’t pull it back. We just have to keep going. They’re like “Man, if we keep going this way, what are we going to do for Special Effects?” I’m like “We’re going to keep on going forward!” We’re going to do shit with live instruments on Special Effects and really really dig into affecting this music and playing with it because we do it so well. So on Strangeulation you’re going to hear shit that’s got a Special Effects feel. We didn’t mean to do it, it’s just happening. The idea is to do Special Effects right now so some of that shit seeped through on certain songs. You’re going to hear a lot more effects on the lyrics and the beats. Strangeulation is another level of Strange and the artists are getting more polished.
I’m a strict leader. If something ain’t polished, it didn’t go on the album. If one of the members of Strange was lackluster it didn’t go on the album and best believe one of my solos did not go on the album. I didn’t cut myself out of shit that got cut out. It was a song that I had that had some lackluster parts on it, and I knew it and I took it off. Anybody else that became lackluster to me – and I know what elite is, and if you’re not working on your craft I can hear it – you can probably hear it on me too – I took it off. No disrespect, but if we’re going to have the industry in a chokehold we can’t have anything that’s lackluster on this bitch. I took some shit off and I hope that the members who didn’t make it on certain songs like they thought they were are not salty. It’s just the general can tell when all wasn’t put in and if that truly was your all then we’ve got a problem, because I’m working on my shit everyday. I was supposed to have five solos on there but I took one off. Sorry n shit, it didn’t make it. It did not make it. As well as a couple of other songs that some people were on that didn’t show up – to me. That’s my opinion.
I value my opinion. I know what elite is. I heard “Worldwide Choppers”. I did that shit. That’s the hilt of eliteness. I heard “Beautiful Music” and “This Ring” and “The Rain” and “Riot Maker”. I know what the hilt sounds like. “Einstein”, I know what the hilt sounds like. “Love Me Tomorrow”, “Fortune Force Field”. I know what elite sounds like. I listen to music out here and when it doesn’t sound like anything out there and it’s still massive and people are feeling it then it’s elite. So if I wasn’t elite I didn’t put it on there and that didn’t count me out either.
From what I’ve heard from the process of creating this album is that there are a bunch of songs that got done that aren’t even being released as bonus tracks. I love that personally. I love the idea of the process like “Okay this is good. Let’s throw this in. Eh, that doesn’t work let’s take this out. Okay let’s look at this again.”
Yeah, and this is coming from someone like me and Krizz Kaliko, people that are really narcissistic when it comes to music – like we can’t do nothing wack! But that’s not true all the time (laughs). I’ve grown to realize that. Sometimes we can do something that might not work for that — not saying that it’s wack, but that it just doesn’t work for that project or any project. We got so many songs that didn’t make it on Something Else I’m thinking “Damn what are we going to do with all these songs that we didn’t put on Something Else? Are we ever going to put em out or leak them or sell them or anything?” People agree like “Yeah, this is why you didn’t put this out. It’s not good Tech.” I can take that because I’m already feeling that way about those songs.
When you got narcissists putting it together it’s hard for other people to feel you like “I think that one should come out,” and you’re like “Nah.” Then you have a survey, Big Scoob is in here and usually what Big Scoob says goes because he knows. I’m like “Scooby, what you think?” He’s like “Nah, I don’t think that one, I think the other one.” And I still didn’t put that one, even if the O.G. said “Nah.” He said “On that one you ain’t really talking about nothing,” and I still put that one on there because I really feel it. I took the other one off. The one that everybody said is dope to them, I took it off, because I felt like it was “Nah, it’s not up to par.” I’m speaking of one of my solos. I had people judge, as well that are close to me, and I still went against everybody because I feel it. I feel the other one a lot better. Even though it’s super simple and people might be like “Why would you even put that on the album?” I feel it! So that’s my test to see. Yeah man it had to be one billion to go on here. I just can’t put people on this album just because they have the Strange Music chain. Everybody made it, don’t get me wrong.
Yeah, just certain verses didn’t make the cut.
Certain verses I didn’t use because I felt like they weren’t totally elite.
I know the tracklist is in order, what do you think of the product now that it’s done?
It feels like a traditional Tech N9ne album, not a collabos. It feels like a traditional Tech N9ne album. It feels like an Everready, It feels like Something Else. It feels like All 6′s and 7′s because I’m on every fucking song. And Travis told me at the beginning “You know you don’t have to be on every song right? You’ve got artists” and I’m like “Yeah.” I ended up on every fucking song even if it was for eight bars. I’m on it. There’s not a song that I’m not on in this motherfucker.
We’re sitting here in this studio and to my knowledge this is the first time the process from beginning to end has been done within these walls. How does it feel when doing and how does that affect the process?
Everyday I come in this motherfucker, and this has been open only for seven or eight months, every time I come in here I’m like “God damn, look what the fuck we done did.” I mean we already have the headquarters right on the next block and that’s overwhelming in itself. Everybody’s been here, all the publication’s been here. They’re like “Wow!” Now when they come here they get wowed more, like “What the fuck? This four million dollar project y’all put together and called it Strangeland?” Now that we’re able to do music in it, and Strangeulation is a result of what this place brought, so that’s a plus. That means we can do music in this motherfucker. We can do anything. We got live drums and live guitars in this bitch. The never before seen Raven: the humongous touchscreen. Now we’re about to get the duality over there in the other room, the SSL board. It’s a blessing man that we can actually do music in this beautiful place. It’s like, yeah we can make it all beautiful, but if you can’t record shit in it, what’s the point?
We did some wonderful music out of this bitch on Strangeulation. Man we did the cyphers here. We did “The Calling” here. We did “Fear” here. We did “Stink” here. We did “Make Waves” here with Tyler Lyon. We did all these wonderful songs here man. We did “Na Na” here. This album has everything. It has the loud and boisterous shit like we always had with “Einstein”. It has that kind of shit. It has the sexual shit with “Na Na”. We got the dark shit on there. We got the emotional shit on there, the sad shit on there. It’s the formula. It’s here. It’s Strange. We didn’t hold back on anything. Everybody came and if they didn’t come they didn’t make it.
There’s a lot of cool coincidences that happen in this company, but to come to realize that this is the first album to come from the studio that all the energy from the art went into building is a beautiful thing. What does having a clique that’s this thick do to your creative process?
When you have this many emcees you have to be dope. There’s a pressure to be “Aw shit. All these rappers rapping on this shit? Stevie Stone is on this motherfucker. You got Scooby coming in, killing niggas. Prozak even killed his verse on the Goddamn cypher.” You know what I’m saying? You got all these rappers, CES Cru, ¡MAYDAY!. One of the guys in ¡MAYDAY! is the freestyle battle king! It’s like “Oh shit!” And the other motherfucker in ¡MAYDAY! is a treacherous emcee as well! All these guys. You got Krizz Kaliko and you got Kutt Calhoun. All these motherfuckers. You got MURS added to the shit. Jay Rock. You really have to go. If a nigga call you and say “Okay, me you and Rittz are going to do this song.” You got guys like “Aw, shit! I gotta rap with Tech and Rittz?” It’s hard to do! “Make Waves” is a result of that. Me, Krizz Kaliko and Rittz. It’s treachery. It’s a blessing because I think the whole world is going to realize “Aw these niggas is equipped with motherfuckers that can really rap!” All our fans know. All the Technicians know that these motherfuckers are elite. They know but our goal is to get the whole world to know. It feels good to know that we ain’t really got no slouches on this mothefucker.
Tell me about the production on this. Did any instructions go to Seven as far as what you were going for? Did anything inspire some of these productions?
I told Seven I wanted to do a song talking about my alcohol problem and we did “The Calling”. It’s fucking beautiful man. I wanted to do a song to where this dream I always had for years, it was when I was little, I was falling and I fall and hit the concrete. I can smell the blood and taste the concrete and shit. I want to call it “Fear” and motherfucker came back the next day going (singing) “Feaaaar!” I said “Seven is the devil!” If I told you I have this thing in my head called “E.B.A.H.” and I want to do a song called “Evil Brain, Angel Heart”, I want it to say “Ebah!” And the next day he comes back with a crowd of people going “Ebah!” “Where the fuck did you find that my nigga?! You can’t find that nowhere!” “I made it up!”
He’s like the devil man, or Jesus, or God? I don’t fucking know! It’s not of this world. I just don’t ask him. I don’t ask him. Because when I do ask him he’s like “Man it’s a computer program I can do it with!” I’m like “Yeah okay. It says ‘Ebah?’ So I tell you I want to do a song called ‘Fear’ and you come back with it saying ‘feaaaar’ and there ain’t nobody singing, it ain’t your wife singing or nothing? So we have Mackenzie go over it and sing it with her beautiful voice and “Fear” came forth, but I don’t know what’s wrong with Seven. I’m able to watch him work now over there, he’s in the other studio right now, I’m able to watch him work. I don’t stand there too long because I don’t want to know. I want to know if there’s a spirit going “Ebah.” And Seven’s like “Thank you.” (laughs) Shit always fuck with me man. Like how does he do that? “The Calling” has this sound going through the whole song like “I am calling Yates!” And I’m like “Okay, I’m not asking him no more.”
Yeah! That’s another one that’s crazy! Like who sang that? That’s another one! I just don’t ask no more man. “I want to do a song like this” and then I have it the next day. I’m like “Okay!” Wherever it’s coming from, I don’t want to know man because it’s impossible to me. Maybe he just knows something electronically that I’ve never dabbled in or something. We’ve got some on here man. Like, okay, the sexual song we’ve got on here. He played it for me, it goes “Na na, na, na na” and I’m like “Na na! Who’s singing ‘na na’?” I’m like “Bullshit Seven! Who the fuck is singing it?!” “No! I have a computer program!” “Okay…I hear you. I like that, I want that one. I’ma talk about pussy.” (Laughs) When you listen to it, it sounds like a woman singing it! It’s a ghost man! It’s a ghost, and I don’t believe in ghosts. I’ve never seen anything but I feel like if I go to Seven’s house I might see some ghosts. Someone might be over there one day.
He’s got a team.
Yeah man, of musical ghosts. “Okay, I want you to sing ‘na na na.’ Go in the booth!” And a transparent motherfucka goes “Na na!” A bitch from the eighteen hundreds or something. You know what I’m saying? But I want to know what alien he got “EBAH!” Who’s the bitch going (makes instrumental sounds from “EBAH”). Where the fuck is that?
That’s crazy I thought the person going “EBAH” was you the whole time.
No! I never said that shit!
That’s not you?
No! (Laughs) Fuck no it’s not me! It was presented to me that way after I said I wanted to do it! I was like “What the fuck? How am I supposed to turn that away?” I was like “Nigga that shit is” (humming beat). That’s why I went in there and screamed like Michael Jackson! That’s how I felt! I said “I’m going to stand back, because I’m going to say something loud!” He’s like “What are you going to say?” “Watch just play it…ahhhhhh!” (Laughs) “Evil brain, angel heart!” I’m like “Oh my god, this is perfect!” “Who Do I Catch”. Same thing my dude. I’m like “Okay…I’m not to ask anymore.” Something’s going on in the beat department. I really don’t want to know. It might scare me, but it will let me know that the spiritual realm exists, what I’ve been waiting for. What is this been under my nose this whole time and Seven’s got the ghost under his house? (Laughs)
By now you guys probably have a pretty cool connection.
Yeah man we went to Venice Beach and just created songs for Therapy. On Venice Beach with Ross Robinson, just went and created. Me, Ross Robinson, Seven, Wes Borland and Sammy Siegler. Ortiz. They came through man and we just made up songs. “When Demons Come” and all that kind of shit? We were just on Venice Beach and we just gelled. If it’s going to be rock, we’re going to do it. If it’s going to be rap, we’re going to do it. If it’s going to be trap, we’re going to do it. If it’s going to be…EDM, we’re going to fucking do it. It’s going to be R&B we’re going to fucking do it. Travis wants a home for Mackenzie, his daughter, to do some pop music. Strange Music will be the hub for that shit. They want to come up with another title that’s a subsidiary of Strange to do some pop shit for Mackenzie…fuck yeah. We’re going to do music! His little girl wanna sing, and she’s fucking incredible! Fuck yeah we’re going to create a label for her to do it through Strange Music. She’s already on my music.
I think a lot of times people misunderstand that it doesn’t matter what platform or to what degree the music is presented on, it’s just gotta be dope. If it’s on the radio, if it’s underground, it doesn’t matter.
Yeah! When she was little, like nine, “One and a two and a three and a four” (Sings “Demons”). That’s her! She was the lead on that shit! “So Lonely”. She’s already seasoned man and it’s crazy she’s only 14 years old. She’s super operatic man. She can sing anything. She listens to pop stations and everything. Trav is like “What you think about calling the subsidiary EGN Arts?” Strange backwards.
With you and Seven, though, sometimes I feel like it’s when two NBA players playing together long enough, you know where the other guy is going to be.
Exactly. Yeah man, we just be like “We keep getting better.” When we were out there in Venice Beach, just sitting, we were talking and having a margarita. He was like “Man, whatever we’re doing right now, I just don’t want this to stop.” I’m like “Okay!” (Laughs) We still going. He’s like “Man, when I first started doing this my parents were like ‘Eh, I dunno.’ This shit started working and they were like ‘Just keep doing that. Whatever it is you’re doing that bought this house and this car, just keep doing that.’” I’m glad they’re on board.
Do you know the story of “Come Gangsta” and what it took for him to make that beat?
Nah. I’m sure he told me before but it was so long ago. I was on big drugs back then, Everready time – 2006. I was on so many ecstacy pills. We got pictures nigga, my eyes are all dilated and shit. Grant Rice showed me “Come Gangsta” in a hotel somewhere in Missouri doing a show. And sometime during the day, it was him, me and Kutt Calhoun and some chicks or something in the room and he played me that song. I was like “Damn, it’s changing? Fuck, it’s crazy! It’s operatic, it’s gangster.” Kutt Calhoun said “You should call it ‘The Darkness’.” And I’m like “Yeah.” He said “In the darkness, I can see the light!” And I’m like “Yeah that’s cool, but I talk about that shit all the time” and I’m like “Fuck that.” A couple days went by and I’m like “Come gangsta! Throw your rags in the air!” Kind of like in the tone that Kutt Calhoun said “In the darkness! I can see the light!” Because it was a lot of motherfuckers saying that I went crazy, in the hood.
Questioning your stripes and what not.
Yeah. I rapped about that shit and that was the beginning, again, with me and Seven.
Talking to him he said he spent days on that beat and he was like “I made something that I as a fan would want Tech to rap on, and everything that I wanted him to do with certain parts, he did.” Like sing along with the harpsichord part.
I think that that sort of chemistry is still going.
Yeah because he’ll be playing me a new beat and I’ll be like “What you want me to do right here?” He’s like “On this one I just want you to start singing and then go back to rapping,” and I’m like “That’s what I would’ve done anyway!”
You said before that you’ve still got a lot of tricks up your sleeves, as far as rhyme patterns and just rapping go. The “Special Effects”.
Yeah man, it’s coming. It seeped through on this album too.
We’ve gone over this like 60 times but do you have any new patterns in store for this album?
Here, get an exclusive man. Listen to me on the remix. The reason we had to do a remix on “Nobody Cares” is because we just put out the one for the bonus track. But the song is so good, it was a collaborative effort. It was like Makzilla helped write it and Krizz Kaliko wrote some of it and me, Stevie Stone, Krizz’s wife. I had to do a remix my nigga! This to let you know that I’m not slowing down. Listen to this shit. (Plays verse)
God damn. And it’s not that a motherfucker doesn’t believe in you, but I’m just always wondering what kind of new tricks you still have up your sleeve.
Yeah. Still young man and it’s not slowing down.
That sense of adventure, invention and excitement is still there and it keeps growing.
Yeah man. There’s a lot of rapping on this motherfucker. Songs like “Over It” are massive. A lot of patterns man. “Make Waves”. “Hard”. All of them man, they just really got flows. Lot of fast rapping on this album (laughs). I try to slow it down sometimes so people will get it. Other people are like “What is he saying?” I’m like “Okay, I’ll take it slow on some of them” but most of them, they going on this motherfucker. Godi’s verse on this shit? Listen to this. On the remix? This is what I gotta go against! (Plays Godi’s verse) I got emcees my nigga! (Laughs) These niggas are rappers man! Listen to Ubi. These niggas is crazy! (Plays Ubi’s verse) You know what I’m saying? It’s like “Nobody Cares”. They on it! (Laughs) Niggas gotta kick ass. You gotta kick ass on Strange Music. You gotta kick ass or else it’s going to stand out. People are going to say “Okay, that’s the weakest link” and they’re going to point it out. “Okay, Tech was the weakest link on this one” “Aw, this nigga was the weakest link on this one.” They’re going to point it out because these are technicians, people who like the technical style of flow, so they’re going to know! It’s like Krizz Kaliko said, “You better kick ass or else!”
What was the energy like around here while you guys were creating the first album in Strangeland Studios?
Family my nigga! When I walk in Stevie is here and Frizz is here and P-Caso. I walk in and Wrek and Bernz are playing shit in the other room, a beat session. I want to sit in on that beat session because the last time I sat in on a beat session “Fragile” came out of that motherfucker. I’m like “Shit, I’m sitting in on every beat session with these niggas.” I’m like “Who’s is that one?” Like I always am because there’s crazy shit going on. If you walk in and Scooby is in here? You never see Scooby! Scooby’s the ghost in this motherfucker! It’s always good to see the family in here man. You see the niggas that’s on the walls inside this motherfucker. Kutt Calhoun, he’s another ghost. He’s got so many tour dates that you don’t ever see that nigga and it’s like, you come in and he’s here and it’s like “Whoa! What’s up boy?” It’s like we take up where we left off, like “Let’s drink!” (Laughs)
Seven was telling me that this album has a pretty epic feel to it, would you agree with that?
Yeah it does man because, like I said, we took off where we left off on Something Else. We can’t go backwards, we can just go forward when it comes to the production.
Are there any new characters that you adopted in your performances?
I can’t remember. I’m sure I have man. I’m sure I have. I know I did Sean Connery a long time ago on “Paper”: “Dollars paid off.” (Laughs) I can’t remember. I’m a movie buff though so I’m sure some of it came through, I just don’t know right now because there’s so many songs.
An interesting aspect Seven also told me about is that you’re placing people on songs that normally you wouldn’t be like “Oh let’s put so and so on this song.”
No, I wanted to do something totally different. That’s why I put CES Cru on that trap shit. I want to mix you up. I want to take you out of your comfort zone and then see what you bring. I gotta be outside of mine all the time when I got thrown in there with Ross Robinson. Of course I love rock but he’s the epitome of rock, and he just threw me in the booth with Wes Borland and Sammy Siegler and Seven and I just wrote my shit and I’m reading it, fucking up. I’m like “Oh my God!” Totally uncomfortable.
Well usually you have your shit pretty well rehearsed and have it down. How did that work though when you put everyone outside of their element?
Well some of these niggas we had to send it to, you know? I know Lynch ain’t used to rapping on rock shit, so I sent him rock shit. I sent Rittz some rock shit “Make Waves”. He did that shit. I’m going to send something totally different.
But these are all complete artists though.
That’s what I’m saying. When I send Stevie Stone “Na Na”. You know we can talk about bitches all day because bitches talk about us all day. Songs like that and “Nobody Cares” is right up his alley for real because it’s that trap bass kind of shit. Maybe the subject matter in “Stink” is different for Stevie but he did that shit beautifully.
To wrap this up, if you could tell fans what they’re in for, because I know a lot of them are pre-ordering this shit and they have no idea, they heard one song. They heard one song.
Yeah they did and a lot of them are saying it’s the best pre-sale song in Strange history. That’s what I heard.
Factoring in all the quality control aspects, the newness and it being created here, what can you say about this album?
I can say that everybody that’s going to buy this album man are going to be thoroughly satisfied or satiated or whatever you want to call it. It’s more music for you to add to all of your other real shit from Tech N9ne. It’s just another level man, another level of all our lives and shit we’re going through and us celebrating the fact that we’re actually a solid label and this is the result of us.
Somebody said recently after hearing we signed MURS, they said “Good luck on your sinking ship.” Um, this ship is not sinking at all. We’re steadily on the incline. For somebody to say that is like a slap in the face. This Strangeulation is a demonstration of us steadily on the incline and still it goes the fuck up.
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TECH N9NE COLLABOS – STRANGEULATION
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