Recently, JL detailed meeting Tech N9ne for the very first time and developing his relationship with Strange. It’s best heard in his own words, but he described it as, “like being from Kansas City and singing with the Chiefs.”
What about the Chiefs? Or in this case, Strange Music’s Chief, Tech N9ne?
Hip-hop hometowns are sacred, so to have the opportunity to cultivate and sign talent from your very own backyard must be a special feeling.
In an exclusive interview we sat down with Tech to get his perspective, completing the full picture of JL’s Strange Music origin story.
It’s great look into JL and his special Strange debut, DIBKIS, but it also provides an interesting look into what it’s like to lead and develop a label; a rare position for an artist.
Do you remember Meeting JL for the first time?
Yes! Like it was yesterday. Him and his brothers would all be in the street playing and I’d say “Get your asses off the street” every time.
The fact that he turned into this murderous emcee is crazy.
When did you find out he was a rapping?
It was him and B.Hood opening up at this fashion show down on Broadway. I was like, “Damn, I didn’t even know you were rapping dude! You’re B.Hood?! I was hearing about these guys!” He said, “yeah that’s me. It’s us. Brotherhood! Me and my brothers.”
The fact I was able to sign him later in life, after he did all that work with B.Hood and all the JL records, to be able to take him on tour and see people dig what he’s doing, and to see DIBKIS turn into the most wonderful record; it’s definitely an accomplishment for me.
It’s funny you bring up the tour. JL actually talked about the tour being a catalyst for DIBKIS. Did you see a change in him after tour?
I noticed a fire was lit. Just by talking to him. He said “I’m hype” and it shows. When you hear “Hate Nature”? Jesus Christ man! I could tell a fire was lit after that tour…and it’s still lit.
Can you tell us a little bit about your collaborations with JL for DIBKIS, “Saturday” and “Technology”?
For “Saturday,” I came into their studio, and they were playing it. I had never heard a beat like that in my life! It’s fucking crazy! I was like, “Hey, lemme get four bars real quick!” So I wrote it up and got on it real quick. All I wanted was four bars.
“Technology” was going to be on the next collabos but we ended up putting on JL’s record. It’s a big one. It was actually supposed to be on [Dominion] but I told him we needed to keep some gems for the second one and he said “I want that Gem.”
It was his song and he gave it to me so I told him to go ahead and take it, but It was hard, because I love that song. That’s a good one, it’s one for the ladies.
JL talked a lot about how you lead by example. He learned a lot from just watching you. Is that leadership role something you are conscious of?
I’m going to continue to be the leader of Strange Music and I’m wanting the people that follow me to become leaders. When I sign an artist, they have a likeness. Like, “that’s a king right there!”
All of them are already leaders. I just have to build ’em up so all the other people can see we are all kings and they have to get out there, spread, and then the lead their people in.
What does being a leader do for you? What do you learn?
I’m the eldest (laughs) but my style ain’t. I’m getting younger and younger. You know how motherfuckers get old and lose their rhythm and great ideas? Not me. People are gonna say “Tech It’s time to step your game up, someone’s coming for you.” I’m like, “Yeah. It’s a monster I helped build!”
He’s gonna push me, so you know I’m gonna be rappin’ my ass off on his shit and I’m going to have to take my shit even higher. That’s what we need around us.