Father’s Day brings about many different experiences and emotions for everybody. As a father of three, Tech N9ne knows the struggles of fatherhood all too well. In an exclusive interview, we ask Tech about his rocky relationship with his real father and how that has affected him to this day.
Speaking openly about his own children, Tech discusses the painful realities of trying to be an entertainer and a good father all at the same time. He shares personal stories from his past, and looks to the future for a repaired relationship with his children. We may know him only as Tech N9ne, but he is a father first.
In one his most intimate and eye opening interviews, he reminds us what it means to be a father.
What can you tell me about your father?
I remember him being LAPD when I was younger–him coming from L.A. every once in a while to visit at his mom’s house. There were always big, big parties. I remember the last one I went to when I was fourteen. The first time I heard “Atomic Dog” by George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic or whatever. P-Funk All-Stars, you know. It was a good time man, I remember him being upstairs and it was all types of women waiting on the couch. One by one they would go up, you know what I’m saying, to visit with him. It was black chicks, white chicks, Chinese chicks, it was–I would just watch them. All of them would sit on the couch with their arms crossed, like upset, but they’d still go upstairs to meet with him one by one, you know. He had a lot, you know we had a lot of family members over there, you know what I’m saying. Like a lot of us kids, like um, Cash Image was real young then. He’s a rapper in Kansas City, he was real young then, he’s my cousin. He, um, his brother Bubbles was one of the kids, I think Bubbles went jail for a while, you know what I’m saying. That’s Cash Image’s older brother, you know what I’m saying. My brothers, Cortez, Poochie, and Marcus, Maurice, and my sister, all of us used to be over there man, like sleeping on the floor, and you could hear my father having sex with these women. It was so crazy, we’d be laughing through the floor trying to listen. He was a player man, it was s crazy. Now I don’t want to think about it, but it was so fun being over at May Ma’s house because my house was more of a Christian oriented house. We didn’t have liquor and partying like they did, they celebrated over there, you know what I’m saying. Whenever Carlton Cook came home, that’s my father’s name, Carlton Cook. Every time he came home, it was a party man. I used to love to go over there cuz it was slightly military at my Christian home, you know. So it was good to let loose.
I remember being over there, it would be like around Fourth of July and stuff like that man. We would be popping fire crackers, and…I just remember those days like going to get um, fireworks from this girl I was liking when I was younger, like around fourteen, her name was Dion. He father, their house, they sold fireworks, and we used to go across the street from May Ma’s house and pop all night and all day. It was just wonderful whenever he came home, you know what I’m sizzlin? I remember before fourteen, I saw him when I was five. I remember riding on the back of his motorcycle, down in Wayne Minor. I don’t know why I remember that, you know what I’m saying, I was like five dude. I saw him again in my twenties, when I uh was staying with IcyRoc, my early twenties. I think I moved with IcyRoc Kravyn, you know what I’m saying, the guy who did “This Ring” and “T9X”, and all these other songs, “I Can Get Grim”. I stayed at his house from like nineteen to twenty something, I don’t know cuz I got my first record deal in ’93. I forgot how old I was, but umm…he came over there, you know what I’m saying, I was showing him that I did music.
So when I got my record deal in ’93 with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, I went to go see him down in L.A. Somewhere in Compton called Hyde Park, you know what I’m saying, and they was having a picnic, and I met a couple more of my brothers that I’d never met, brothers and sister like James, and I remember meeting Mary and Felicia I think her name was. You know what I mean, and I remember us having to get out of there because there was some Rollin 60s Crips trippin with my little brother James, and I didn’t know. You know, they was trippin, they was walkin on the corner and they said, “You might as well leave”. My little brother had a gun, my father got a gun, it was gangster, you know what I’m sayin? They said, “You might wanna leave”. I’m like “I just got here,” and they like “Nah, it’s probably gonna get bad, so you need to go.” That was the last time I saw him, I think, if I remember correctly.
Have you heard from him since?
Uhh, yeah, I think I have man, I just been really busy. I been keeping in, I talk with my brothers every once in a while, I’m so busy that I never get to really talk to them. But I know he still, damn I just pulled up in LA today, so he’s here you know what I’m saying, he’s here in LA. You know what I mean, damn, I just realized that I’m playing the House Of Blues tonight, we just stopped, so that means we probably like in front of it. They say he live somewhere in Marina Del Rey, I don’t know if he still lives down there, I’m not sure, but uh, that’s crazy. I just realized that I’m here where he lives.
Yeah that’s pretty ironic. What does he mean to you?
I’m thankful that he um, created me man. They say I look just like him, and uh, I think that I look kinda like him, you know what I mean. I’m brown skinned like him. I got the same eyebrows that look like two dolphins jumping across my face. Everybody comments on my eyebrows, think I arch them and shit. But they’re like uh natural for him. He told me, I remember when I was young, when I was five, riding on his motorcycle and stuff. I remember him talking to me, and he said all you kids is going to have these eyebrows. I ain’t tell you what else he said, you know what I’m saying, because it’s going to make people think uh…well, I’ma tell you what he said because I’m a real one. He said, “All you kids is going to have these eyebrows and they’re the mark of the devil”, (laughs). Whoo! Told me that when I was little, but he was playing, and it’s oh so ironic that when I got older, they put that on me, you know what I’m saying. And all of my kids have them too, it’s funny. From Rainbow, to Dontez, to Aaliyah, they all have my eyebrows, it’s funny.
Speaking of your kids, how old were you when you had your first kid?
I was like 22 or something, I had two at the same time, it was crazy. You know what I’m saying, I remember being 22 or something like around there, like “Now I’m 22 and I ain’t go no kids”. Before she was my wife, we had our first, um Aaliyah, August 11. Then Dontez came out, you know, from one of my group members Agonee, you know what I’m saying, October 28, right after that. It was a weird time for me cuz I had no money, you know what I’m saying, no money, and then kids happened to me, and now they’re the best thing man. Back then it was scary, like “What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do?”, you know. But um, now they’re like the best things man. We like, go on cruises and everything man, it’s so wonderful whenever I get a little bit of time. I try to get with them all, and put them all together, and they love each other man, you know what I’m saying. Rainbow and Lili love Dontez so much , he’s such a gentleman man. He’s 16, Lil is 16, Rainbow’s 12 man, they like mesh so well together, all their jokes are cohesive, it’s just the funniest thing ever man. I just sit up there and watch them, like no way I made something this beautiful.
How did fatherhood change your life?
It made me not want to do drugs anymore-Dontez is calling me right now, it’s crazy. Um, it made me wanna change doing the ecstasy ’cause I was going to die man. Rainbow looking at me one morning, I came in high off ecstasy like creeping in the house so they wouldn’t know I was getting home at like eight in the morning, you know. She was walking, you know, from the bedroom in to where I was laying on the couch and she just looked at me–she was really young man, man, had to be like two or three man, I don’t know. She was looking at me, and I thought she knew. You know, and I was like, I do not like this feeling dude. She could see right through me, man, I’m about to die homie. I remember laying next to wife man, in the bed, and she’d be, she would wake up like “Why are you soaking wet over there?”. I’m like, “It’s hot”, she said, “No, the air conditioner’s on and we have a fan on us”, and I’m like, “Oh, I don’t know”. I’d be so on pills, I’d be on like six pills, like rolling trying to sleep, over there sweatin’ dying nigga, I’m talkin’ bout sides felt, my sides been felt like somebody threw a bucket of water on me. You know what I’m saying, just dehydrated, everything man. You know what I’m saying, it’s just the kids, made me uh, wake up dude, you know what I’m saying, like damn. I love to party, but uh I love being with my kids too man, you know what I’m saying, it’s like I love my kids more than the drug, you know what I’m sizzling’. And I couldn’t-I remember the fans started to say “Yeah, he loves Jim Morrison, and he , you know, came up with Strange Music because of Jim Morrison, and we’re gonna lose him just like Jim Morrison”, I was like whoa, when I read that I was like, there’s no way, I’m not gonna die. You know what I’m saying, doin no drugs, I’m not gonna die, ain’t no gangbang situation, I’m not gonna die, and nothing negative man. I’m gonna die in my sleep, old age. I’m gonna be like a hundred years old, like laughing dude, at my children trying to change my diapers, I’m like “Don’t touch me”.
How important is it to be a good father for your children?
Man if I sat here and said I’m a good father…a good father to me is there, spending time, and they’re without me. I’m a great father when they’re around me, when we’re around each other but I’m still trying to get that position. In the “Delusional” second verse, I said
“She feel like I’m going to make them hate me, because I was around to kick it and make them babies, but now that I made it gotta escape them daily, and that’s crazy, cuz all I’m doing is making the industry pay me. And when I show my face, thinking everything’s great, did a show, then we ate, then I’m out of that state. She said I’m a good provider but “daddy of the year” man, I’m out of that race. How I compensate for the losses they get often dates. That’s too personal, Will stop the tape.”
I stopped talking about it. It’s just too personal for me to keep on going because she said after “I Love You But Fuck You”, “don’t ever write another song about me if it’s not good.” I said “I’m so sorry.” I write my life. This wasn’t bad so I could say it, but she’s right man, I’m gone all the time…and they miss me. Now the fans are saying “Tech man, if you need some time just take it. We understand.” A lot of them are saying it on this tour, at the Meet and Greets, they come up like “Hey man, we got you out here for the long haul. Take some time off man, just go” and I’m just like “I wish I could, man! I gotta keep pushing for their future.” And they understand but it hurts at the same time. My son needs me man. It’s very important for me to be a good father and I’m running towards it, towards being a great father. I aint there yet though.
Does that desire to be a a good father fuel your efforts in your career?
Totally. If I lose this then they lose their futures. I have nothing, this is all I know man, is music. That’s why I do it so well, this is all I have–and the knowledge that I learned in school, and the knowledge that I stole in school because they wouldn’t give me the classes. Thank God for my brain man because this is all I got! Thank God for Travis O’Guin for seeing it, and now we’re in this position to really do bigger and better things. I tell my kids “Ya’ll think this is kicking it? This aint nothing!” What we’re doing, we’re taking Royal Caribbean cruises on the biggest ship in the world last year and now we’re doing Disney this year. They’re like “Daddy, we’re tired of the cruises let’s do something else!” I’m like “Okay! I’ll let you start planning it then. I’m going to give y’all the money and go ‘where we going?'” After the last cruise I told them “This ain’t nothing. It’s about to get bigger baby.” And I know it’s getting bigger because my little girl Alyia and Reign, they go out to school in LA, and they tell me “Daddy everybody is bothering about me about your album. Everybody loves it at my school.” I’ve seen it go from them not knowing who Tech N9ne was out there to their whole school enjoying what I do. I hear it grow through them. I see it grow–like in Las Vegas last night it sold out in Vegas man. It was such a beautiful sight to see! The crowds are growing which means it’s going to buy me more time to be with the ones that make me laugh so hard–my children, and to be a father for them, like they want, and like they love. When we sit down and eat in richie restaurants and I’m making weird sounds like “pfft!” They’re like “Daddy, you’re embarrassing us!” I’m like “Shut up, I’m paying for this! We can do whatever we want!” They just think it’s so funny! I just watch them, and hear their jokes. They’re so grown and it’s the best feeling–I’m smiling right now just thinking about being able to see my girls today. They’re coming to the show in LA right now, so I get to see them two today. It’s going to be fucking wonderful…if I don’t have a lot of things to do. They said I might have a couple of things to do and I said “Try to make it not much” because I haven’t seen them since they left my house in Kansas City. They stayed with me for ten days and I was working on All 6’s and 7’s. I lost some days. I lost like five days with them. I saw them at nights when I came home but I was so exhausted so I got some making up to do.
On that note I’ll get out of your hair with this last question. For people wondering what to do for Father’s Day or why to appreciate it, what would you say?
Give to the ones you love, you know what I’m saying? You never know when this place is going to go. You gotta have your kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames and you gotta get with the ones who love you. If it’s your children that’s wonderful, if it’s your lover, whatever. Stick with the people that show you love and give you positive energy. My children truly do that for me. On Father’s Day, just surround yourself with people with love. No negativity, we don’t need it. It’s already negative in the news and we see what’s going on. I just visited Camp Pendleton with the wounded soldiers that were missing hands and legs, it just depressed me man, all day. I came to our Meet and Greet after that and I told them to throw on K.O.D. and K.O.D., that anger at the beginning of the album, like “Show Me A God” and “Demons” and “Strange Music Box” made me feel better. I was like “Whoa, that shit works!” I was thinking about the soldiers, how they go over there–they’re young man. We already got a lot of negativity around us–though what they’re doing is positive, trying to protect us. You gotta surround yourself with people that love you, on a positive day or any other day. That’s what I’m going to do.