The best advice for ANY artist – whether it is music, movies, or written works – is to “Turn your pain into art.” If you have been following Tech N9ne over the years, you know all too well that he is the personification of this advice. We as his fans know about his mother (thanks to songs like “Low” and “Last Sad Song”), we know about his struggle to find a higher power in his life (thanks to songs like “Show Me A God” and “Hope For A Higher Power”), and we know how much he misses his best friend, Brian ‘B’zl’ Dennis.
It is with Brian Dennis that we, the fans, are faced with an enigma: who exactly was Brian, and what happened to him? This editorial will not answer those questions beyond the information we the fans have been exposed to via Tech’s lyrics.
The first mention of Brian in a Tech N9ne song was in 2006, with the release of Everready (The Religion). In “Riot Maker” Tech starts off right away with a dedication to “Brian B’zl Dennis and all of the 57th Street Rogue Dog Villains – real riot makers!” The rest of the album was devoid of any mention of Mr. Dennis – sans the last track, “This Is Me (Goodbye)” where towards the end of the third verse, Tech is naming off a group of people. In that list, if one listens carefully one will catch “This is for B’zl and I know that the rest of my family is with me.”
So with the first and last track, the Alpha and the Omega, Tech is crucial in not letting fans know too much. It’s the right way to go given the journey we will go on with him in the next five years and how much we will ultimately learn about Brian.
Next up is Killer, released on July 1, 2008. The track “One Good Time” has Tech explaining how he just wants to break down and cry at least once, asking “Please let me break down with the pain I felt when Brian Dennis died” at the end of the second verse.
It was in Killer that one could see the evolution of Tech’s darker side. While Everready had a small section of darker songs – dubbed “The Melancholy Maze” – Killer had a larger section – dubbed “The Dark Side” – in addition to a few other tracks that fit the bill, such as the aforementioned “One Good Time” and “Happy Ending” that opened the door to Tech’s darker psyche. Something painful and brutal was growing inside of him.
April of 2009 marked the release of the second album in the ongoing “Collabos” project with Sickology 101. Fast-forward to the fourteenth track, “Far Away”, and one will hear the next Brian reference at the end of Tech’s verse: “I keep fighting and I’m trying, to get right in my mind Brian, cuz one day I’m gunna see you, even though I can’t picture the N9ne dying.”
“Far Away” stands out on Sickology 101, a fun album that’s chock-full of party songs, as one can tell a lot of emotions went into the verses. The song addresses the fact that we’re all bound to die and that there is nothing we can do to stop it – one’s own mortality realized. One takes comfort in knowing that Tech knows he will see Brian again even though it will be with his own death.
“This is Brian,
He was a rebel and stayed on another level,
with no intentions of dying.
He loved Kim a lot, above them was not,
but a jealous ex-husband would love them to rot.
I guess he loved Kim, still,
his only thoughts – him, them, kill,
‘Cause he a coward motha fucka,
on Christmas Eve he broke in,
and waited in they house for hours –
crazy mother fucker!
Brian pulled up with Kim and little Alissa in the car,
saw a shadow in the house from afar and said ‘Wait!’
Got out the car, opened the gate, walked in the house,
and her fucking ex sealed my nigga’s fate.
That was my best friend,
bitch ass nigga!
Walked out of the house and shot Kim,
right in front of Alissa,
then he saved the last shot for him, blast!
Now you better hope I don’t go to Hell,
because I’mma be on your ass!”
Holy wow, that verse is INTENSE – a PERFECT ending to Tech’s darkest album to date. While the album opened with “Show Me A God” – a song about how he is losing his faith because of his mother’s constant sickness – and ended with that last verse on “The Martini” – we the listeners got a full dose of the angry monster that resided inside of Tech. In keeping with the theme of dividing the darker tracks from the rest of the album – whether it be “The Melancholy Maze” or “The Dark Side” – K.O.D. was divided into three parts – “Anger”, “Madness”, and “The Hole”. This was the beast we saw evolving in Everready (The Religion) and Killer and will continue to follow through the present and into the future.
The latest (official) mention of Brian Dennis was heard in “Face Paint” – a bonus track off of All 6’s And 7’s. Tech starts the second verse with “Brian Dennis painted my face, back in the day like 94, look now ain’t it my taste. I know a lot of mother fuckers think he tainted my faith, but I keep that cross on me (and) I pray and it just ain’t my grace.”
How many knew Brian Dennis painted Tech’s face before this song?
While those are the official references, there may be a few more that MAY point towards Brian – only Tech knows the answers for sure, but here are a few speculations –
In “Little Pills”, the first taste of KABOSH, an upcoming rock album from Tech and the Dirty Wormz, Tech mentions close to the end of the song that “In the middle of a crisis I’m high, shaking, and shivering.” This COULD be a reference to when he first heard of what happened to Brian, as it was Christmas Eve.
Though lyric websites disagree, on “Low” – one of the darkest tracks off of K.O.D. – right before the first chorus, Tech says “MY homie caught a gat, and my bodyguard Nicholas just had a heart attack.” Could this be a reference to Brian, or another friend that saw himself in a bullet’s path?
In Tech’s newest release, Welcome To Strangeland, the opening lines of “Retrogression” have him saying “I’m thinking of retrogression, about going back to my best friend” – perhaps a nod to Brian Dennis?
So there you have it, a fan’s perspective on Tech N9ne and his best friend, Brian ‘B’zl’ Dennis: a journey from the bottom, a journey through the darkest pits of misery and depression as told by a true artist who knows to turn his pain into his art. We all have a ‘Brian’ in our lives – somebody we miss more than anything – and it’s important to stay focused on the big picture, yet it is through that pain that we are defined and this is never more evident than through Tech N9ne.
Here’s to you Brian.
Written By Strange Music Blog Contributor Jason Ours
Follow Jason on Twitter: @JasonIsStrange