Tech N9ne Interview by Black Dog Bone photos by/ marcus hanschen
I feel like it’s a blessing when an artist doesn’t get big right away. When some 18 year old blows up real big, they usually can’t handle it and they disappear. You have so much experience you’re invincible now.
That’s what it is. I’ve been kicked so many times, held back so many times because of me being different, but I’ve stuck with it. I don’t let nobody get to me. The only person who almost got to me was me, with drugs. But I overcame that shit too. Fuck, I am invincible! I got “sacrifice” written across my chest last year at the Palms Hotel. Big as hell, sacrifice, cause I sacrificed everything I love for the love of this music. I lost my wife out here hustling in these streets tryin to get more fans. More fans means bigger and better things. Sacrifice.
Would you be happier if you had been a one hit wonder, all over the radio and TV for a few months. Or would you rather be Tech N9ne?
I’m glad that Tech N9ne happened this way. I’m glad. If it had been a right-away hit with “Anghellic”, “It’s Alive”, they would just put me in that category like Rock/Rap. Once that shit goes away I’d be just sittin on my thumbs back home. I’m glad we built it from nothing and made people understand by keeping on doing wonderful music. Keep doing bigger things every time we come out. I’m glad. I really applaud Soulja Boy how he did that with the ringtones and the dance. I hope that he can keep it goin. I hope he can keep that longevity. I pray for young muthafuckas to keep comin up anyway they can. But I’m so glad that the Tech N9ne shit is happening the way it’s happening.
We’ve been doing Murder Dog for 15 years and I’ve seen certain artists like you, E-40, Keak Da Sneak, Yukmouth, C-Bo—I know they’ll be doing it in another 10 years. But so many artists came with a big hit and disappeared. You don’t know where they are now.
A lot of these major acts can’t even sell out shows like we do. They never got fans. They had a hit that people loved, but they never took the time to get out there and tour like we do. Let’s say a real big artist goes to San Diego and gets 7 people in there, most of them wouldn’t even do the show. We do it 100% and spread the word. If you’re tryin to be the Hip Hop president like me you’ve got to get out there and politic. Barack Obama ain’t gonna win the election by sittin at home alone at his house. Hilary ain’t gonna win sittin at home cookin. These people get out there and go from city to city, state to state, and they politic. That’s what it’s gotta be.
If I go to a show and the people on stage look just like everybody else it’s not exciting to me. I go to get entertained. You don’t want to see the cats that’s on your block. If the cats on your block can rap, that’s cool. They might be dope, but when you see them on stage it’s not as exciting as somebody that’s jumpin around doin tribal dances and being uncontrollable, and just spittin like no other. It ain’t like our show has to be over the top because we can’t rap—no. We bust harder than most. We kill most lyrically.
And when you go out there and meet your fans and get that feedback, it’s probably exciting for you.
It’s so exciting. The thing about recording the music is great, but the anticipation on getting it to your fans is the shit cause you’re waitin to hear what their reaction is gonna be. They’re waitin to hear what you’re gonna come with, and I can’t wait to hear how they respond. I cannot wait until July 1. I can’t wait.
When you look at tribal music, they never had CD’s or TV. They just perform it to their tribe and everyone takes part in it. The response is right there. The energy exchange, it was always a big party.
It’s about that. Strange Music is like our own tribe. I tell my fans that bein on tour is like a big party for me, a celebration of beautiful music. You’re performing for your tribe, the tribe that loves your music. It’s the same with ICP. They created another world! Joe Bruce, for him to think about all the cards that they came with and the Jeckel Brothers and the Great Milenko, The Riddle Box, all that is brilliant! I don’t care what people say, them niggaz created a new world. Juggalos and Juggalettes, that’s the biggest gang I’ve ever seen. They’ve got their own world and they invite you into it. They invited me in, they didn’t have to invite me into their world. They didn’t have to invite Tech N9ne to do the Wicked Wonder Tour or the Gathering of the Juggalos. They didn’t need me. They felt their fans wanted Tech N9ne and they introduced their fans to me 100%. Now my fans are into ICP too.
Murder Dog is always ready to support what you’re doing and what ICP is doing because everybody is doing the same old shit. Most rappers are not taking their own path, they are just followers. What’s the story behind Strange Music?
Strange Music, when I first came up with the title—I’m a big Jim Morrison fan, I’m a big Doors fan, I’ve always been. I got his mug shots when he was in New Haven, Connecticut. I’m into Jim Morrison, his whole swagger.
Jim Morrison was into shamanism. He considered himself a shaman, the lizard king.
They used to call me the Black Jim Morrison back in the day. I’m really into the Doors. My favorite Doors song is “Riders on the Storm”. But one song that was always mysterious to me and sounded like a dark circus is “Strange Days”. It goes like, “People are strange when you’re a stranger…” I was always something different from everybody else. Even when I was in high school, the way I wore my hair, the way I wore my clothes, I was always slightly strange. When it came to me doing my deal with Quest Records, with QD3 and Quincy Jones in ’97, QD3 walked me into Windswept Pacific and they gave me a publishing deal. The gave me 25 thousand dollars, the first money I got, and they asked me what I wanted my publishing company to be named. I said EGN Arts: EGN stands for Entertainment Group Nine but when you read it all backwards it says “strange”. My shit was called EGN Arts Music. Then when I met with Travis in ’99 and he said let’s do a partnership on a record label, I said Strange Music. I’ve always been a strange individual and my music has always been different from the regular run of the mill bullshit. That’s how Strange started, from the Doors.
that’s what a lot of rappers don’t understand. You want fans, nigga? You want longevity? You’ve got to give them something to come back for. I’m talkin about people that come to the Tech N9ne shows. Like when we did our first show years ago in San Diego we only had 7 people, Black Dog. Now we’re sellin them out. You know why? Cause them 7 muthafuckas went to their friends like, “You’ve gotta see this crazy fucker! Come to the Tech N9ne show.” So those people came. Next time we go it’s 100 people. Then them hundred people tell—it’s word of mouth.
The Doors were into psychedelic drugs like mushrooms and peyote, and you can feel it in their music. It is strange. The Doors brought things from the unknown world.
That’s what we try to create. People like ICP, like Tech N9ne, it’s like their own world. When you step into Tech N9ne’s world it’s gonna be a clusterfuck, a roller coaster ride. It’s an emotional roller coaster. I’m grateful to be building it the way we are, but I ain’t halfway there yet. The world has to know about me. The world. Travis is an amazing businessman. He’s gonna make sure that we go everywhere. He’s gonna make sure.
All you need to do is keep making that strange music.
I’m gonna keep on makin that strange music. I’m gonna keep on makin it, cause it’s in me. I’m a walkin clusterfuck. I love it. I love my mom bein a Christian, I love that my step father was a Muslim and it taught me two sides. I love that I studied Hinduism, Judaism, Taoism, Shintoism, Buddhism, everything, and it just fucked my brain totally up. So when I became the clusterfuck it’s just believing in me. Just believing in making the right decisions and taking care of your loved ones. Just doin the right thing within me, not following the beliefs of Man. Follow what I know, not what they say.
You’re following your own spirit.
Totally. I’m not a follower of Man, dog.
I know what you mean when you say “follower of Man”. Because Man created this civilization and he is destroying the earth in the name of science and progress.
Exactly. Man is self-destructive. Man is gonna tear this muthafuckin place up for money and oil and shit. Looks what’s going on in Iraq. Look at that shit. It’s still goin on, bro.
It’s crazy, man. What I try to do is create my own circle and keep my loved ones on the inside of that shit. But this circle that I’m building is for everybody. My circle is getting bigger and bigger and bigger. It’s for all of us.
You have a great team at Strange Music. You are all united and working together.
It’s a beautiful thing. When I call myself the Kansas City King I mean it and it can’t be disputed, but I’m tryin to be king of the world. Maybe that’s a big thing, maybe that’s a big title to have, but I’m tryin to a king in this because in my spirit and my body and soul I am a king.
Why settle for Kansas? Why not be king of the world.
Exactly. I started in Kansas City. I conquered that already. I have to be the Pinky and the Brain, “What are we gonna do today, Brain? Like we do every day Pinky, try to take over the world.” That’s what it’s all about. 50 Cent can sell 9 million and more. Eminem can do the same thing. I can do that too. I’ve got the music to do that. Don’t let me get on TV and radio cause I’m takin everybody’s shit when I do.
If I go to a show and the people on stage look just like everybody else it’s not exciting to me. I go to get entertained.
You don’t want to see the cats that’s on your block. If the cats on your block can rap, that’s cool. They might be dope, but when you see them on stage it’s not as exciting as somebody that’s jumpin around doin tribal dances and being uncontrollable, and just spittin like no other. It ain’t like our show has to be over the top because we can’t rap—no. We bust harder than most. We kill most lyrically. But at the same time the old school taught me to do a show. KRS-One taught me to do a show. You know what I’m sizzlayin? Public Enemy taught me to do a show. NWA taught me to bring a show. Them was niggaz on stage and they brought a show, I’ve seen it. Run DMC taught me how to do a show. Afrika Baambaata and the Soulsonic Force taught me how to do a show. That’s what a lot of rappers don’t understand. You want fans, nigga? You want longevity? You’ve got to give them something to come back for. I’m talkin about people that come to the Tech N9ne shows. Like when we did our first show years ago in San Diego we only had 7 people, Black Dog. Now we’re sellin them out. You know why? Cause them 7 muthafuckas went to their friends like, “You’ve gotta see this crazy fucker! Come to the Tech N9ne show.” So those people came. Next time we go it’s 100 people. Then them hundred people tell—it’s word of mouth. They spread it. That’s how you do it, that’s how we stay in the game. Because we give them something that they want to keep coming back for.
You probably know this, but if you’re doing a show in a town tonight all day they’re getting ready for it. They’re excited and talking about it, because it’s not like any other show.
Right. You’re gonna see something spectacular. You got people getting here at 2-3 o’clock when the doors don’t open 'til 7. They wanna get the front spot so they can see what we’re gonna do next.
When we first did an interview with you in Murder Dog, you said that you had a whole career before. When you look back to the beginning until now do you feel like it’s the same Tech or a different Tech?
It’s a different Tech because I stopped doing drugs.
You were doing drugs way back in the beginning?
Yes, I was. All those personas are still within me. All that’s still with me. I just feel like I’m growing up and I’m scared of it. I find myself doing shit that I ain’t never done, like runnin from bitches sometimes when I used to just run to the pussy. Now I’m real picky about my pussy. It’s a lotta things. I don’t have a lotta hate for the cats that did me wrong back then. I don’t have no more hate for those people. Time heals all wounds. I think about what they did, but those people aren’t around me anymore. It’s like I’m way different now. And I’m getting this big chip on my shoulder. It’s a chip that I’ve always had building, and the chip comes from the industry not acknowledging wonderful music. Every album I do I put all of me in it. This ain’t no rooty-toot music I’m givin you. I’m givin you shit that’s up there where Jay-Z is, 50 Cent, Nelly. Whoever’s big, I’m right there with ‘em yet not there with ‘em.
There are so many great artists who the industry misses altogether. Look at Esham, look at Keak Da Sneak, Tech N9ne. The industry should recognize these people.
That’s where the chip is comin from. Back then I was a little more humble and the drugs was making me a nicer guy, but now I feel like my tolerance level is getting smaller. Sometimes I wish a muthafucka would start fuckin with me so I can let off some steam, cause I’ve been so nice for so long and muthafuckas don’t respect that shit. Now I’ve got a chip on my shoulder with music. I’ve got a chip on my shoulder with demon muthafuckas who try to come in here to our circle of love and try to fuck shit up. So I have no tolerance for bullshit. Back in the day I was like, “I have no TIME for the punk shit…” I did that back in the late nineties. Really now I have no time for the punk shit. Now my kids are 13 and 9, so I really have no time for kiddy shit other than them.
my journey is not over because when I talk to you and you tell me I have fans in Sri Lanka and I don’t know about it, that means I have other places to go. Until the whole world knows my name that’s when my journey will be over. My quest to get my story to the whole world. You might ask, “What’s so special about your story Tech? What’s so special about you? Why you think everybody should know your muthafuckin story?
There seems to be an urgency in your music like time is running out.
Exactly! You remember that song I did, “Time Is Running Out”? It’s like my mom is getting sicker and I feel like I have to complete this journey so I can show her bigger things in life. She deserves it, man. She deserves it.
You feel like you haven’t completed your journey?
My journey is not over because when I talk to you and you tell me I have fans in Sri Lanka and I don’t know about it, that means I have other places to go. Until the whole world knows my name that’s when my journey will be over. My quest to get my story to the whole world. You might ask, “What’s so special about your story Tech? What’s so special about you? Why you think everybody should know your muthafuckin story?” It’s because we have one major thing in common. We’re human beings. We’re human beings with pain and sorrow. We’re human beings with happiness. We like to celebrate. We’re feeling madness. But the thing about me is I’m inside out. I’ll let all those feelings go. That’s what we have in common and that’s why I feel like that can appeal to every fuckin person on the globe. And until I tread every piece of this earth then I ain’t even close to what I’m talkin about, Black Dog! I ain’t even close. Let’s say we’ve got 300,000 Tech N9ne fans who will buy the CD’s. That ain’t shit, nigga, I’m talkin bout millions. I’m thankful for those 300,000. When “Anghellic” came out it was 100,000. When “Absolute Power” came out it was 200,000. It might be more than 300,000 now, but I still got a long way to go. And I’m tryin to do it with “Killer” July 1st. I’m tryin to get this to the racks of the fuckin world. Why did I use the Michael Jackson “Thriller” concept? Because that shit is worldwide. That is the album that sold 50 million copies.
I saw that cover. That’s a classic image that we’ll never forget.
Michael Jackson had a white suit on. I don’t got no white suit, that ain’t Tech N9ne. Tech N9ne’s crazy and insane. So you put him in a straight jacket and name it “Killer” instead of “Thriller”. If my journey is about getting to the rest of the world, why wouldn’t I mock that cover that’s everywhere. People who don’t even speak the language are buying his album. They can call me the Michael Jackson of Rap.
I love Michael Jackson. I don’t care what people say.
Me either. OK, he had problems. I’m not talkin about his personal life, I’m talkin about his musical life. So what I’m sayin is my journey is not even half complete. We’re getting there though. Me and Travis (co-owner of Strange Music), we’re getting there. It’s about getting it to the rest of the world. When I say, “Fuck the industry,” A lot of my fans got it twisted. They think I mean fuck BET and MTV, like I don’t want to be on there. No man! I’m sayin fuck MTV for not puttin me on it. I’m sayin fuck BET cause they’re not puttin me on there. I’m sayin fuck the radio because they ain’t playin my shit like they should be. That’s what “FTI” means. Fuck the industry because they won’t take chances with new music and better music. Music is supposed to inspire. What that means is when I do something superb the next young muthafucka that’s listening is compelled to do something even better. Keep bettering Hip Hop, that’s what it’s supposed to do. Keep going up and up and up. That’s what it’s all about, inspiring.
that’s what we try to create. People like ICP, like Tech N9ne, it’s like their own world. When you step into Tech N9ne’s world it’s gonna be a clusterfuck, a roller coaster ride. It’s an emotional roller coaster. I’m grateful to be building it the way we are, but I ain’t halfway there yet.
You would think that people on MTV or BET would want to put you their show in a second, because your visuals are so amazing, your stage performance is so incredible. Anyone would be excited to see you on TV.
That’s the fucked up thing. It’s all about money. Everybody has to get their palms green. I understand that. I understand payola. I understand that we’re independent. We ain’t about to pay no DJ 20,000 to play one fuckin song 700 times a day. We ain’t got money to throw away like that. We’re about to get it and then we’ll have to ask ourselves do we wanna play that game. They’re gonna have to see me. The fans are gonna have to speak. MTV is gonna have to see me, BET is gonna have to see me, the radio is gonna have to see me.
You might not realize it, but you are a legendary artist all over the world. If I were you I wouldn’t even worry about TV or radio. Without anybody’s help you’re touching people everywhere in the world. When I travel all over, everyone loves and knows Tech N9ne.
Exactly. What’s gonna happen is like when we were in Denmark, MTV comes there and sees our show and 60,000 people are there yelling my name. They’re gonna say, “Why don’t we know about this?” They’re gonna say, “Where the fuck have we been?” That’s when the fans are gonna force them to listen. Our fanbase is growing by the minute, so they will see us somewhere with all that love and support. We’re turning this into something humongous. We’re right in the middle of it, I see it.
I bring the inside of my brain out, but I hide my heart sometimes. But when I’m on the fuckin mic you hear my heart pour out. The paint came from me fearing clowns and the mysterious, the unknown, and that keeps me mysterious. In a world that everybody looks the same and everybody’s a carbon copy, I love the mysterious.
You wish sometimes that a really big rapper would just reach out and put you on their tour or call you to do a track with them.
Exactly. I got a song on my new album called “Why You Ain’t Called Me”. It’s talkin about me bein on tour with Jay Z. I don’t even know why he ain’t called me. Why Ludacris ain’t called me, why Nelly ain’t called me. Why you ain’t called me? It’s not a diss song. It’s just like, nigga to nigga, why you ain’t called me? You know I got the heat.
When someone gets that power they can just brighten someone else’s life by bringing them in.
Like I shoulda been on the Anger Management Tours. We were doing our own tours when they were doin the Anger Management Tours and the Family Values Tours and all that shit, the Rock the Mic Tour. I was on the sideline sort of like Rudolf the Rednosed Reindeer. I’m gonna tell your what’s gonna happen. A lotta these muthafuckin niggaz can’t even get people to their shows. They’re gonna call me then, like let’s put Tech N9ne on it. And it’s gonna be too late.
Just watch. Snoop will be calling you trying to do something with you.
It’s funny you say Snoop, because now they put me and Snoop together on this July 11 show. They want us to do it annually. It’s big things. And I want the bigger things, Black Dog. I want it real bad. I want everybody to know my name. When I go to a mall in a different city and bitches ain’t goin crazy I feel like my job ain’t done. I need to be able to go to Japan and everybody falls to the goddamn knees. That’s the king in me. The reason why I say fall to their knees is because I give all of myself. I turn my insides out.
You have experienced certain things in life and have come into a deeper understanding. You want to share it with us through your music. You have a gift to give.
I got a song on my new album called “I Wanna Cry”. If I could just cry one good time I think I could clear my soul and be fine. If I could just cry one time, cause I haven’t been able to cry since I was 14. Whenever I used to go to funerals and shit I’d cry on the inside, hurts on the inside, but no tears. If I could just cry real hard one good time I think I’d be cool. I’d open up. For a person that just give everything, fuck yeah you want people to bow down and say, “Thank you!” Everybody else is too tough. “I’ll kill you, I’ll shoot you, don’t fuckin talk to me.” It’s a defense mechanism. Me, I give you all of me.
It’s the same with ICP. They created another world! Joe Bruce, for him to think about all the cards that they came with and the Jeckel Brothers and the Great Milenko, The Riddle Box, all that is brilliant! I don’t care what people say, them niggaz created a new world. Juggalos and Juggalettes, that’s the biggest gang I’ve ever seen. They’ve got their own world and they invite you into it.
You bring us love, a beautiful gift, but it’s not getting to people. If TV or radio was pushing you, you music would make so many people happy. When we feel down music is what keeps us going. Music is a spiritual gift you’re trying to give to us.
Do you remember this record “Ain’t A Damn Thing Changed” by WC and the Maad Circle? Whenever I used to get upset back in the day when I was in high school I’d throw that CD in and he had this song, “Get on up on that funk, maybe you’ll feel better…” Coolio was on it—it made me feel better every time, man. It’s like a weird thing with music. It soothes the savage beast. God gave me the ability to soothe you. I’ve got devil worshippers comin to my show in Arizona that come to me and say, “We know you’re not one of us, but we love your music.” They love my pain, because everybody’s in pain. When I set out to do this music I say I want my music to be for everybody all over the globe. That’s why the Juggalos and Juggalettes are gonna connect with me, cause they feel my pain and they see the clown in me. Devil worshippers, they feel when I talk about my bad side, my brain bein evil. They connect with that. When I’m talkin partying, sittin around and drinkin Caribbalu, people in college come to my shows cause they identify with that. When I talk about bein from a blood neighborhood. I wish I could shake it, but I can’t shake it. I love my niggaz, wearin red and all this. The gangsta niggaz can relate to it. I appeal to everybody because I’m everybody in one.
When you say people come to your shows who are devil worshippers, what are they all about?
I don’t know. I don’t really know, cause I don’t believe the devil exists. People watch too many movies and they get to really believing in the devil. I wanna believe in the spiritual realm; I wanna believe that there is a higher power.
We are the higher power, but we haven’t realized it. We are part of this existence. We are the universe mind. Your pain I can feel. We are all one.
Yeah, man. That’s what I believe. I believe that we are the higher power. We have the power to create and do anything. I think the devil worshippers get a lot of that shit from shit that man created.
The man-created civilization is not the real higher power. In Sri Lanka we worship devils. We call a devil “yakka”. We have hundreds of different yakkas. Yakkas are our dead ancestors.
For sure! That’s cool, they can do that if they like. I just think it’s from shit that they read and movies that they watch.
You did your earlier albums while you were using drugs and now you’re clean. Is there a big difference in what you’re doing now?
“Killer” is a different album because I write my life as it progresses or it gets worse or whatever. On every album I’m getting older so a lotta things are changing. Therefore it’s gonna be different content, it’s gonna be better beats, it’s a different mind frame. It’s still Tech N9ne. It’s still party crazy wild-ass Tech N9ne,”drunk as hell at 3 in the mornin…” It’s still Tech N9ne, but I’m spittin like I never spit before. People say, you sound like you’re 18 on the mic. It’s like I’m getting young and older at the same time. The flow is not getting old; it’s getting more polished. I’m still raw, but it’s gonna keep changin every time. Like “Anghellic” doesn’t sound like “Absolute Power”. “Absolute Power” doesn’t sound like “MLK”. “MLK” doesn’t sound like “Everready”. “Everready” doesn’t sound like “Vintage Tech”. “Killer” to me is all those in one.
“Killer” is a double album, right?
It’s a double album and it’s all done. Shawna came through for me from the DTP. Ice Cube! I got Ice Cube and X-Clan on the same song, it’s called “Black Boy”. It’s talkin about muthafuckas, how we go out to shop. And we got money because we’ve done something legitimate like music, but they still treat us like criminals. Because I’m a Black boy you think I’m bout to come in here and steal something, but really I get paid more than you. Brother J came through a blessed me on that track. Paul Wall came through. Mistah F.A.B. came through on a song with me and Kutt Calhoun called “Let’s Go”. Hed P.E. came through with Kottonmouth Kings on a song called “I Am Everything”. “Killer” is all directions. Scarface came through for me on this one, man. He’s on a song called “Pillow Talkin”. Brad Jordon himself! I was down at South by Southwest this year at Austin, Texas. Scarface agreed to do it, so we drove a couple hours to Houston, went to the studio and he wrote it right in front of me and recorded it right then. It was a wonderful experience cause I’ve been a Geto Boys fan since the beginning. Just bein in there with that royalty! Two kings together.
Who made most of the beats for this album?
Different people. I’ve still got Seven. Seven’s gonna always be with me, he did the majority of it. I’ve got Wysh Master from St. Louis. He’s the one that did a lot of Nelly’s shit. I’ve got a guy named Young Fyre from Iowa—he’s fuckin insane. Him and Wysh Master got them big-ass beats. Then this other new guy by the name of Matic Lee. He’s from Atlanta and he came through, gave me a lot of live band shit. David Sanders II came through, he’s from Alabama. So many people came through. Bosko came through. Tygilla. I just get ‘em from wherever. I put Tech N9ne on top of these new beats.
What are some of the big towns for you when you tour?
Denver is a real big one. Denver, Colorado. Fuckin Seattle. We sell out the Moore Theater and that’s three levels. Las Vegas is big for us. Oregon is really big for us—Portland, Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, Bend, Oregon. Salt Lake City is humongous for us.
they used to call me the Black Jim Morrison back in the day. I’m really into the Doors. My favorite Doors song is “Riders on the Storm”. But one song that was always mysterious to me and sounded like a dark circus is “Strange Days”. It goes like, “People are strange when you’re a stranger…” I was always something different from everybody else. Even when I was in high school, the way I wore my hair, the way I wore my clothes, I was always slightly strange
All those Mormon kids come out?
Fuck yes. Mormons aren’t supposed to have sex until they get married. When Tech N9ne come to town all that shit goes out the window.
When you tour how many towns do you hit?
Like 67 and we’re at 30- something now. We might not do Canada now, so that’ll cut it down to like 56 or 57. We’re big in Canada too, we’re just waiting on the promoter to get it together. There’s people up there waitin on us.
I love what you’re doing. I hope you always keep it Strange.
It’s all about that. It’s just gonna keep getting weirder and weirder.
What made you stop using Ecstasy?
My kids, man. My kids. And I’d rather do this music and take care of my children than die on Ecstasy. My kids really look up to me, and their kids at school look up to me being Tech N9ne. They really adore me, they’re proud of me being their daddy. They love to be seen with me. They love to go out to eat with me or to go to a movie with me. My kids are so important to me. It’s them over any drug.
Also you had a Mohawk and you used to paint your face like a tribal warrior. What made you want to decorate yourself in that way?
It started with my stepfather, him being a Muslim. He had me working jobs to get my own money and he was real strict. When he found out that I was rappin on the side he said, “You don’t need to rap. What you got that’s different that nobody else has? You’re gonna sound like everybody else.” That made me wanna change everything I did—the way I rapped, the way I looked, the way I think. The paint came from my fear of clowns when I was little. When I used to go to the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey circus and the clowns shake your hand, I never knew what was going on behind that painted smile. It could be a frown or actually malicious, but the smile was painted on. That creeped me out. There was a mystique to the whole thing. My fear turned into infatuation. I need to become what I fear most. Being mysterious, they don’t know what I’m thinking until I put it down on paper. The face that’s painted on looks evil, but really in my heart it’s love. But I don’t want the demons to know that, because that’s when they’ll try to get over on a person that loves. The clown brings forth the evil in my brain but my eyes are the window to my soul. You can tell by looking in my eyes that it’s all about spreading love. In a world of evil I would have to have something to camouflage me, because if any demons find out what’s really goin on inside me and try to get over me, then I might have to get evil on him. That will in turn take me away from my children. My children are my world. This is the crown that protects me. I bring my insides out. I bring the inside of my brain out, but I hide my heart sometimes. But when I’m on the fuckin mic you hear my heart pour out. The pain came from me fearing clowns and the mysterious, the unknown, and that keeps me mysterious. In a world that everybody looks the same and everybody’s a carbon copy, I love the mysterious.