The most remarkable thing about All 6’s And 7’s is not the high profile list of features or the mainstream hype surrounding it.
No, instead the real star of the album is Tech N9ne’s growth as an artistic visionary. Ditching conventional song structures and typical Tech N9ne sounds, Tech built an album that pushes the boundaries of what hip hop should sound like. The complexities of the album may not jump out on a first listen, but with a little attention to detail, it’s easy to see what could have sparked Tech N9ne to change his approach. There is an argument to be made that Tech N9ne may have very well been influenced by another musical oddity.
In 2010, rapper and mega-producer Kanye West released his highly anticipated My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Rooted in rich instrumentation and an extensive creative process, the album redefined what a hip hop album could be. The grand sounds from songs like “Dark Fantasy”, “Power”, and “Hell Of A Life” established the album’s overall dedication to building bigger without being too careful. The name of the game was not to recreate good music, but instead to break down traditional arrangements and rebuild them into something completely unrecognizable. Kanye West has always been praised for his ability to take risks. The ambitious recording process included collaborations with major names, and the use of several different musical styles. The end result was an album full of peculiar styles that clashed in a complimentary way. In short, MBDTF was one giant contradiction that somehow held itself together. Unfolding more like a film than a record, the album dismissed any and all use of conservative song writing, and instead created its own. Filled with endless verses and no real mapping for hooks or bridges, Kanye pretty much wrote what he wanted to and placed it anywhere he wanted to. If he wanted Kid Cudi for two bars, that’s exactly what he got. This was more than just a hip hop record, it was real art.
Following the release of Bad Season, Tech created a bit of a stir over Twitter when he heavily praised Kanye’s MBDTF. Fans could not believe that Tech N9ne was a Kanye West fan, but he defended his love for Kanye’s music, and even expressed interest in working with the Chicago MC. It was around this time that Tech first reportedly began work on All 6’s And 7’s. From the get go, Tech promised fans an album that would borrow from all corners of the musical spectrum and reinvent his sound. All 6’s And 7’s would not only be representative of his torn emotions, but also of the various influences that would spill into the recording process. Somewhere along the way, it seems like Tech N9ne could have turned to Kanye West’s music for a little inspiration.
From the opening track, All 6’s And 7’s runs full force into an experimental rabbit hole and never looks back. The dub step production on “Technicians” is certainly not fitted for a typical Tech N9ne track, but even then, the real leap of faith comes much later on the album. Tracks like “Strangeland”, “The Boogieman”, and “Delusional” challenge Tech N9ne’s signature sound, and in doing so, give him an entirely new world of music to play with.
On “The Boogieman”, the hooks come in with free reign and Tech takes no precautions between verses. He even calls upon First Degree The D.E. for only four bars, and while it seems trivial, it is another sign of Tech’s freedom to use as little or as much of any single sound as he wishes. Every nuance in the mixing of “The Boogieman” fills it with a real threat of what is to come.
“Strangeland” places Tech in an odd spot, a bizarre and yet so calming soundscape that feeds on his sense of accomplishment and amazement. Built like drug induced odysseys, these songs find Tech N9ne in places he’s never been musically. Much like Kanye’s album, they transcend the rigid foundation of song writing.
Nothing on All 6’s And 7’s restricted Tech, and that is where he and Kanye share a common ground. Both MCs allowed themselves to push deeper and deeper into the core of their creations. While Kanye’s album did this on a larger scale, Tech still sought to explore the same process, and hints of influence are scattered about All 6’s And 7’s.
To most fans, Kanye West and Tech N9ne couldn’t be any more different. While Kanye’s flamboyant personality plays into his music, Tech’s hardcore edge keeps him from reaching a point of no return. Kanye can afford to ignore any and all warnings. Tech on the other hand risks alienating his fan base by straying too far. Still, Tech took a big risk on All 6’s And 7’s by toying with his original formula. Frankly, it’s safe to say that his risk paid off big. All 6’s And 7’s is a representation of what Tech N9ne is capable of as an artist, not just a rapper. Kanye West may not have been present on any single track of All 6’s And 7’s, but it would be hard to imagine that his music did not steer some of the direction on the album on a conscious or subconscious level. As both artist continue to elevate the true art of music, their worlds cross, making the smallest, but oh so significant imprints on each other.
–Victor Sandoval, Assistant Editor Strange Music
Follow Victor on Twitter: @VicMSandoval
Click here to purchase All 6’s And 7’s Deluxe iTunes Edition.