DARREIN, JL, MACKENZIE – Tech N9ne Talks New Faces on Strangeulation Vol. II [SM Exclusive]

Nov 16 2015


With Strangeulation Vol. II, fans are going to get to know some new voices in the Strange Music-centered compilation.

We talked to Tech N9ne to get an idea of the new talents offered on Strangeulation Vol. II and what it means to the future of Strange Music.

You got some new faces on this compilation. What can you tell us about the newest artist you’ve signed, Darrein Safron?

The Darrein Safron thing came to me through Travis. He said, “This lil’ muh’fucka’s dope.” I said, “Let me hear.” He sent me the Stevie Stone shit, [sings “Fall in Love With It”]. I’m like, “Yeah, he did a couple songs with Stone, that’s cool.”

But when I got in the studio with him and how he rearranged everything, I’m like, “This motherfucker’s a superstar.” Seven had an idea, and [Darrein] said, “Okay, let’s do it like this.” Then “Real With Yourself” came out and I saw how he worked. I’ve been creating music for a long time. Seven could tell you too. He’s like, “Dude, he’s the truth.” He’s an über talented cat.

I talked to Seven about him and he told me the story about how he kind of built this beat, sort of a test, like, this is some weird shit, let’s see what he does with it.

“Praise KOD”: Darrein wrote it. He wrote it for Ryan Bradley. It let me know he can adjust to pop, when he’s more street, hood type R&B. Because that’s where he’s from – St. Louis. His hood is fucked up.


I think it was a perfect choice to add him to the roster. And we got so much more work to do. I’m intrigued to see what else we’ll come up with. Because the way he worked and the way he fandangles shit, he does it with his eyes closed. He’s only 20 or something like that. And he’s so laid back with it, like “Yeah, I got this.” He can rap too. You hear him rap on me? [Raps Darrein’s verse] I’m like, what!? I didn’t know that singing ass mother fucker can rap. He’s a star.

The way he punctuated those parts with the singing.

[Starts rapping and singing]…I’m listening to the background when he’s singing those words as punches; they’re so on cue. This motherfucker’s cold blooded. I like working with him. I can’t wait to work more with Darrein.

What can you tell us about that song he’s on? Did he pretty much have that laid out and then it was your part to rap?

He told me what to do.

I really like that dynamic you guys got going on.

He said, “I’m going to be messing with your girl and you’re going to be talking to me like ‘Motherfucker, I’m gonna kill you for fuckin’ with my girl.'” I’m like, “I like that.” He said, “You gotta be at me, and I’m gonna be at you.”

Then I let him hear it. I said, “You don’t even know I sent it to you, dumb youngster.” He said, “Ah, you’re gonna call me a dumb youngster, alright, okay.” I said, “It’s in the music!” And he’s like, “No I got it, I got it.” He started pacing around my office, like “Alright you called me a dumb youngster. Alright. Okay.” I said, “You told me to be against you!” And he said, “Yeah, but I got you though” and he came back with that rap, [raps Darrein’s verse]. And I was like “What?!”

Obviously you’re in character, but there’s a real tension in there. I want to talk about JL too. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time. I know he was on some tracks when you had your E.B.A.H. EP. He’s from the hometown too.

He’s from our block.

So that’s how you know him? How far back do you go?

We were recording “Let’s Get Fucked Up” on 56 Highland. And they were the kids that lived across the street. When we’d come through Scoob’s suburban, they’d be playing basketball on that little plastic basketball goal, and Scoob’s like “Get outta the street!” And they’d move and we’d park, then they’d keep playing.


I found him years later after me and Don Juan and all of them split up. I’d heard about this dope crew called B.Hood. Lil Vonzell – Captain Vonzell Jr – was telling me he was with these cats called B.Hood that’s killin’ shit.

I ran into them at a fashion show practice downtown at a bar. And I saw JL and he was like, “Man what’s up?” And I’m like, “Whoa! Where’s little QD3 at?” I used to call his brother little QD3 because he had those eyes like Quincy Jones. He said, “He’s over there.” I said, “What’s the name of your crew?” He said, “B.Hood”. I’m like, “Oh, cuz we from the blood hood? Yeah nigga!” He’s like, “No, we’re all brothers. It’s brotherhood.” I’m like, “Oh. Same thing. It’s all good.” I thought he was reppin’ the block [laughs].

And I wanna say, rest in peace Jessie Deuce Howard. He was his best friend. Lil Deuce lived on the block too. He was one of those kids, used to come over there on the porch and rap his little verse, “Apple sauce is yellow and brown” [raps verse and laughs]. It was funny as hell because he was a little kid. Apple sauce is yellow and brown…I don’t know what that means. But he died in a car wreck. JL and them, they grew up to be such fuckin’ ferocious emcees. “Do it big, keep it strange.” That nigga been reppin’ Strange without Strange’s help.

Yeah man, I think he did it as an homage. It spoke to him. It was like an unofficial anthem for Strange Music at the time.

He’s a fuckin’ sniper. He’s got the 50 cal.

I like his verse a lot. Maybe I’m ignorant, but his Cypher verse, I heard something new in him which was crazy. I’ve never heard him that…

Hyper! You hear what he said? He said “I can only do church if my nigga was alive. Now I’m in the booth, hurt.” Because his brother died. He’s talking that shit. There’s fire in him.

What can you say about him as far as an emcee? What do you like about JL?

He’s versatile. He knows melody and harmony. He’s a fuckin’ killer, sniper, chopper. He can slow it down. He can perform it. I’ve seen him do it over and over again. He’s hungry. He has every skill needed to make great music.

Definitely. Lastly we got Mackenzie O’Guin. Really cool track. Very different for the Strange catalog.

Yeah, we’re trying to go into a lot more avenues. Mackenzie always had a wonderful voice. And it’s getting better and better. And so, “Actin Like You Know” lets you know that she’s ready. She put that together. Her and Krizz Kaliko, with Seven in the studio, came out with that. You could hear that on the radio now – pop radio – and the people who are at pop radio, who are our friends, they agree.

What’s it been like watching her grow through the years? She’s obviously like family to you.

Proud. She’s always going to be a baby in my eyes. She’s 16 now, she’s got two cars, but she’s still a little girl. I’ve seen her grow into this wonderful songstress, and now the world’s about to hear her do her own thing, not just a chorus with me. This is a big thing. You’re used to her going [sings chorus’ from Mackenzie] and now there’s more. She’s got her own song, featuring Tech N9ne. That’s humongous. I’m proud of her. Her dad’s proud of her, because if he wasn’t proud of it, he wouldn’t put it on the album. We’re proud of it.

  • Which new faces on Strangeulation Vol. II have impressed you the most?

Let us know in the comments.