From soldiers overseas to actors on the silver screen, Tech N9ne has huge fans from all walks of life. What do they all have in common? An undying love for the truth and emotion that Tech puts in his music and the undeniable skill in which he relates his message.
Case in point are fans Cody Christian and Kenny Kynoch, who took it upon themselves to cover Tech N9ne’s crossover hit “Fragile” from Something Else. The video that went up on YouTube awhile back caught our attention, but what caught us by surprise was that upon looking into the talents we realized that Cody Christian, (the guy on the left who spit Tech and Kendrick’s verses with surprising clarity) was also an actor on the popular television show Pretty Little Liars.
We got both of the talented LA inhabitants on the phone to discuss the collaboration. Along the way we also got their advice on making that big move to the coast for a career in entertainment and how the song “Fragile” transcends genre boundaries and taps into universal truths that we can all understand.
Give us some background on yourselves.
KENNY: I came to LA back in 1997 from Idaho and I was pursuing music. I got here and I got to do some demo work with some pretty cool artists and some writing and things like that. Basically I’ve been doing that for, gosh, over 20 years now.
CODY: Basically I came out here about six years ago from the midwest. I came out here to pursue acting so I came out here and started from absolutely nothing and kind of built the career the career that I have thus far around me. Every single day is a new step forward in a new direction. Thankfully I got some really great credits under my belt, a lot of great work experiences and definitely grateful to be where I’m at. It’s just been step by step.
I’ve always been a fan of music. I’ve been listening to hip hop all my life. It was definitely something that’s been rooted in me since I was young. I remember being five years old going to Best Buy and buying my first rap CD with my parents so that’s definitely something that’s been very prevalent in my life. It’s just one of those things where the opportunity presented itself for us to kinda collab between me and the background that I have with hip hop and Kenny with the background that he has in singing and vocal production and everything that he does. We just kind of went from there.
It’s great to hear about people that move from this area and make it big on the coasts. Being from KC I know a lot of people who have made that trip – some make it, some don’t. Do you guys have any advice for people who are making that move and what it takes to persevere?
CODY: You’re going to learn when you come out here that you have to be comfortable with pain. A lot of people aren’t and that gets to them. Because we’re speaking in regards to longevity and people coming out here and not make it overnight, but make a career and lay something out for the rest of their lives and longevity is definitely associated with that. So the biggest thing for me that I learned that you have to have this character that’s just unbreakable and that comes from really wanting whatever it is that you desire more than anything in your life, because constantly you’re being faced with this feeling that your world is crashing down and this rejection that you get. You constantly have your passion and what you put your heart into being passed around or being kicked around by other people.
You have to be in this position and be in this mindset that you’re in it no matter what it costs. No matter what it takes you’re going to be in it so you succeed until you get what you want. You could suffer and endure all this bullshit and you can give up when you’re a foot away from achieving your dreams so it’s kind of like you have this attitude that you’re going to be unbreakable, and that’s very hard for a lot of people to get.
KENNY: Yeah actually you have to have a lot of determination. You have to have a lot of belief in yourself and you have to be surrounded by people who believe in you and are willing to support you.
It’s funny because about 15 or 16 years ago, I was in a down slump and just about lost everything. I was still living here in Los Angeles and I had a friend who had moved to Lawrence, Kansas and he said “Come on out here and sleep on my couch” and so I drove my little car all the way out there. Boring, boring trip! (laughs) I got out there and after eight days I was like “You know what? Fuck this. I’m going to go back.” I had a chance to give up and go to Idaho and become a pizza delivery guy – or whatever it was I was going to do out there – or come back to Los Angeles and just do as much as I could to stay there and make it. I lived in my car for nine months and still pursued music and finally got hooked up with one of the biggest producers in the world and he set me on a course of working with Cher and other artists. Now I’m grooving man and I look back at those days and laugh and I think to myself “If I would’ve gone back to Idaho, I would’ve never had the opportunities that I’m having now.”
In life it seems that just when we think we’ve reached our breaking point the next level is just right around the corner.
CODY: It’s all about taking that risk too and that’s the scary part. Most people want to live their life predisposed and they have a plan. For me I don’t have a plan. This career, this is where my passion is. This is where my heart goes. This is it for me. I don’t have a backup. I don’t have something I’m going to fall back on. This is it and a lot of people don’t think to live their life that way. It’s a scary thought. It involves taking that risk and having that belief in yourself and knowing it’s going to take you where you want to go. That’s very difficult.
When you’re talking about pain it hard not to relate that back to the song that you guys covered, “Fragile”, did you guys feel any identification with that song, being people that are artists and being subjected to criticism? When you’re in that field and you’re the public eye, people are going to talk.
CODY: I related. I had a strong relation to this song and I think that’s why we chose it and went with it, because I’m at a point in my career where I’m in the public eye and it’s new for me. It’s not something that I ever really desired or something I’ve wanted – to be a slab meat in front of people. I’ve never really wanted that.
I’ve learned that no matter what I do, right or wrong, smile, frown or whatever, whatever I do it’s going to be the wrong thing to anyone and there’s going to be judgment passed. I used to sit there day after day and night after night and just beat the shit out of myself thinking “God! I need to change this” or “I need to do that” and suddenly I got to a point where i said “It’s just not worth it.” I can’t. You’re literally going to go insane trying to keep up with it. You just have to do what you want to do and be comfortable with who you are and just be yourself because there’s always going to be that person, no matter what you do, that’s going to have something negative to say, that’s going to be that naysayer, that’s going to be that pain in the ass, doesn’t want to shut their mouth. There’s always going to be that person. I just learned that it’s not worth keeping up with and the better option is to just be comfortable with who I am and at the end of the day you’re going to judge me regardless so I might as well do what I desire and do what’s going to make me happy.
KENNY: I on the other hand had never grown up with hip hop and really hip hop was introduced to me by Cody. When we met we’d be driving down 405 we’d be bumping hip hop and I’d be like “Damn, this is really good!” And he’d put on Tech N9ne and I’d be like “Holy shit! This guy’s fucking amazing! How does he do that?” And everybody with him on the label. I just started getting really into it. Then Cody showed me “Fragile” and I’m like “Dude, that hook is amazing…amazing. We should do a cover of that!” and he’s like “Yeah, maybe we should!” So that’s how it happened. As far as the song goes, I think it’s fucking unbelievable. I’m obviously attracted to the hook, that’s the part I’m singing in. I can’t rap worth shit but I’ll leave that to the pros. (laughs)
Cody I think you did pretty good considering a lot of those verses, not only for a lot of people are they hard to even understand, much less perform. Are you the guy who’s always rapping in your car and what not.
CODY: It’s just one of those things to where, I don’t know man, I just always listened to songs and I just kind of felt like “Yo, I could do that.” I never really tried to do it and when Kenny pitched the idea of doing the cover to me, I wasn’t down with it at first, I was kind of skeptical. I took the song home with me and I listened and there was this moment where I was just like “Alright, I’m going to have to try and rap this out loud” and I did it and it wasn’t easy, but it felt natural and it flowed. It was one of those things that I just kind of picked up on.
Like you said, especially with someone like Tech N9ne, who’s so technically advanced, it’s hard to rap a verse of his and it not sound like a script, because yeah you can say the words and you can rap them fast and you can get the delivery down, but can you perform it? Can you elicit feelings and emotions and can you portray and convey what he wanted in that song? That’s the difficult part. The words, the lyrics and being able to speak them, that’s one thing but being able to perform them is another. I definitely had a lot of fun with it.
In an interview with Pharoah Monche that we did recently, he basically said that these great emcees have way more than spitting the lyrics, but that they’re consummate performers and can inhabit a character, mood and performance like any great actor could.
CODY: That’s something I learned from Kenny that music is storytelling. That’s where it comes in. It’s very synonymous with acting, because I have to do the same thing. I get a set of sides and I build a character around it. I get in that state of mind and I bring this character to life with all their problems, all this emotion and everything that’s going on. It’s not just reading lines on a page and that’s what separates a poor performer to a great performer. It’s being able to take those and bring what’s on a page to life and give it that spontaneity. It’s the same thing with a great emcee rapping a verse and a very mediocre rapper spitting something he thinks is fire.
Cody, I take it you were the guy who was a fan of Tech N9ne out of you two. Have you always been a fan?
CODY: I think the first album I ever heard from Tech was, I don’t know what year it was released but I remember I had to be at least like 12, I think the album was Everready. That’s the first album I ever heard from Tech and I remember the song too. I heard a song called “Caribou Lou” and me and my friend Cameron used to just bump that song day after day. That’s when I became a fan of Tech and I started checking out all of his past work and I followed him on his upcoming albums and all the songs that he did. There’s something about him that I like more than most artists because I’m not a fan of the average hip hop today. I think Tech delivers something that’s not average. He’s still true to himself as an artist and he puts out there what he wants to put out and it’s not this censored media bullshit that we have to have out there.
KENNY: Cookie cutter bullshit.
CODY: Yeah, it’s someone who actually puts heart behind what he wants to put out there as an artist and I respect that because I understand how the industry works and I see it first hand and I see the political side and to see an artist still gunning and he has his own label and putting out work that he respects and that he appreciates and that he loves. It’s awesome to see.
Kenny I have to ask you, I know you said that you were never a huge fan of hip hop but was this emotion in this song able to translate despite any hesitance you might have had towards the genre?
KENNY: Oh yeah for sure.To be honest I couldn’t understand half the lyrics (laughs). When he’s rapping it’s so fucking fast but again it goes back to that feeling that Cody was talking about and that hook. When she’s singing it’s just so emotionally based and you feel the pain.
It was really great to talk to both of you guys. What do you guys have in store for the near future as far as your own careers go?
CODY: Me personally I have my career with the acting and it’s just project to project so I keep gunning for it on that, but in regards to I’d say music I think I’m going to start exploring it a little more than I have been. I just wrote a killer verse I’m about to record one my buddy’s tracks that he’s going to put out there. Definitely going to play around with a couple more Tech songs. I think the next one I’m going to try and tackle is “Worldwide Choppers” so that’s going to be fun. (Laughs) Hopefully I can get that one out there and get it done. Hopefully in the near future man my path might cross with Tech and we’ll go from there and see what happens.
KENNY: If there’s any hooks on those tracks then I’m going to do those. Otherwise I work in the studio with a lot of different artists and producers and writers. Seriously though, Cody can write. He can write and I’m looking forward to hearing his stuff out there someday because I think people are going to be very very surprised.
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