Tech N9ne - The UC Theatre 1st Anniversary Show

For an artist who has achieved so much – the most robust touring regimen in rap, more than a decade owning the most successful independent rap label, an independently released gold single, and recurring placement on Forbes' Hip-Hop Cash Kings list, among them – Tech N9ne wanted his new album to transport him and his listeners to new levels of musical expression. With Special Effects, the Strange Music mogul has delivered.

"We're playing with music, letting people know that we got this," Tech N9ne says. "What it turned into, after my mom passed June 6, 2014, we still kept the same thing of affecting the music and the beats, but it got real serious, man."

Tech N9ne gets serious in each section of Special Effects, which is broken into 10 portions (each of which has its own subdivision), starting with "Sunday Morning" and running through the entire week before concluding with another "Sunday" installment and an "Encore."
The "Wednesday" section is dedicated to lyricism and features a collaboration Tech N9ne's been working on since 1999. Eminem appears with Tech N9ne and Krizz Kaliko on "Speedom (WWC2)," one of the best rap exercises ever recorded. Each rapper flows at breakneck speed while clearly articulating each word of their mind-blowing raps.

Even though having Eminem on Special Effects may bring Tech N9ne extra attention, he didn't secure the appearance for name recognition. "I got Eminem on the album because I love what he does and he's on the top of his game," Tech N9ne explains. "I always felt like I was one of those guys, too, that really took time with lyrics, that really took time to create material that people have to study."

Longtime Tech N9ne fans have been studying Tech N9ne's story raps for years. One of his most legendary series reaches its dramatic finale with "Pyscho B**ch III." Given that the Kansas City rapper no longer has the psycho female element in his life, he wanted to conclude the installments with a chilling ending based on a real-life experience.

"When I heard the beat, it was so massive and so eerie that I wanted to talk about a crime of passion," Tech N9ne explains of the song, which features Hopsin. "My best friend Brian Dennis, he was killed through a crime of passion, so I know it's about a woman dating two dudes, usually. So, I made the song with two rappers dating the same chick. She got busted with one of them and they both knew each other. They don't like each other much and they're fighting over this girl."
Switching gears, Tech N9ne gets serious about making music for the clubs with "Hood Go Crazy." The song features 2 Chainz and B.o.B, and harkens back to Tech N9ne's roots as a dancer.

"I know what makes people move," he explains. "Just like I did 'Planet Rock 2K,' 'Let's Get Fucked Up' and a lot of the party songs I've done, being three-dimensional. It's 2015 now, so what's Tech N9ne's 'Caribou Lou' going to sound like in the future? It's 'Hood Go Crazy.'"
As much as Tech N9ne focuses on other pursuits, Special Effects is dominated by darkness, the pain and confusion that enveloped him upon the death of his mother. While he was reflecting upon her passing, he thought about the artwork of his K.O.D., Seepage and Boiling Point projects. Each featured black tar covering a portion of Tech N9ne's body. As Tech N9ne revisited his artwork, he and producer Seven realized he was now metaphorically covered by this film.

The results were "Shroud," one of Special Effects' most emotional songs. "It has a need to be angelic, to be good, to take all that madness and let it explode and shake the masses and put it back on the evil people," Tech N9ne explains. "I spit out everything I felt. I was really angry with people's evilness and was dealing with my confusion about my mom, about why she was so tormented. She was such a God-fearing person, loving person. It's just me talking to God and really letting the darkness take over me, but still turn it on the evil. It's all in me, but then I turn it back on them, the evil that they made."

As the album heads into its final sections, Tech explains how people have turned on him with "A Certain Comfort," discusses losing longtime friends to disagreements on "Burn It Down" and details bringing people together on "Life Sentence." With "Dyin' Flyin'," he addresses people's claims that he's selling out, while "Worldly Angel" sums Tech N9ne up as a human: the good and the bad, the confusion and the joy.

These are hallmarks of Tech N9ne's work, key ingredients that have helped the Missouri mastermind grow from one of rap's best-kept secrets into one of its most successful acts. With a tireless work ethic, he became rap's marquee double-threat: a rapper whose musical magnificence was matched by his impeccable live show. He and partner Travis O'Guin launched Strange Music in 1999 and have methodically built it into an independent powerhouse, a label that releases high-quality, chart-topping music and whose artists, Tech N9ne chief among them, tour throughout the world virtually year-round.

It all adds up to one of rap's best success stories. But, as Tech N9ne has found, success doesn't always shield you from loss, setbacks and jealousy. "It's messed up that money changes everybody around you and not necessarily you," Tech N9ne says. "I'm still me. Money changes everything. Fame changes everything and it's a shame. That's one thing about Special Effects. Two is that I'm totally messed up about my mom's death because I felt like she was such an angel and she was cheated spiritually, to me, in this life, so I'm frustrated. But in the midst of all that sadness and upset and madness, I'm still going to find a way to celebrate, to say thank you to my fans. We're going to party the pain away."

And Special Effects is the perfect elixir – for Tech N9ne and for the rest of us.

Brotha Lynch Hung

Hip-hop ambitions are often described in terms of "hunger", but no known MC has an appetite quite like Brotha Lynch Hung. This is not simply the peckishness of a seasoned artist still making music while his former contemporaries have long passed their sell-by date. This is the ravenous hunger of Mannibalector, Brotha Lynch Hung's flesh-chomping, gore-streaked altered ego and the antagonistic protagonist at the dark heart of Coathanga Strangla, the genuinely stunning new album by Brotha Lynch Hung.

Coathanga Strangla re-introduces listeners to the not so nice but strangely sympathetic guy they met on Lynch's 2010 album Dinner and a Movie. The "autocratic automatic reaper" instantly joined the entertainment biz pantheon of indelible killers like Mannibalector's cinematic predecessor, Silence Of The Lambs sicko Hannibal Lector. "I watch a lotta horror movies and I really love meat," says Lynch, "so I put that together and out came Mannibalector."

Longtime fans will, of course, recognize these deviant tendencies. Brotha Lynch Hung's 1993 debut, 24 Deep (Black Market Records) found his "human meat pot luck" already underway (who can forget the image: "find your brain cookin' in a barbecue pit"?). The 1995 release of the Sacramento (CA) native's certified Gold classic, Season of da Siccness, followed and Lynch has released a steady stream of music ever since, making him an ideal match for the do-or-die work ethic of his current label home, Strange Music.

Kansas City-based Strange Music is currently the most successful outfit in independent hip-hop and home to Tech N9ne. Dinner and a Movie was Lynch's first album released by Strange, but Tech N9ne and Brotha Lynch have history: Tech appeared on "187 On A Hook" from Lynch's Blocc Movement in 2001, and in 2006 Lynch delivered a standout verse on "My World" from Tech N9ne's Everready album. "Strange Music understands me, they've really given me a fresh start," says Lynch. "As strange as it sounds, I feel like I'm just getting going with my career."

Make no mistake however: what feels like a fresh start for Lynch is coinciding with a high point in his artistic evolution. Always one to look to movies for inspiration, Lynch says that repeated viewings of the Hostel films had a direct effect on Coathanga Strangla. "Some horror movies are too ridiculous," he says, "but Hostel has a very realistic feeling. It's not scary like boo! — it's more like this could happen. That's an authenticity I'm going for in my music."

It's that sense that gives Coathanga Strangla its compelling core. With its bowel-bothering bass line and toothpick percussion (courtesy of producer Michael "Seven" Summers), "Mannibalector" is a cannibal lecture (replete with requisite slaughter) the reveals the crucial facet of Lynch's artistry: his alter ego is not a two-dimensional creation but a character full of humanizing doubts, fears and paranoia. Allmusic.com's David Jeffries has noted Lynch's facility at going "from gross to scary to sympathetic and personal, and then back again, all without losing a step or trying your patience."

When it comes to digesting Lynch's art however, it helps that his raps are leavened by what can only be called "gallows humor." Who else would refer to his manner of cooking victims as "Operation McPasta", as Lynch does on the new album's "Mannibalector"? While Brotha Lynch Hung is often credited as the originator of the rap genre known as "horrorcore", most so-called horrorcore rappers would be content with a standard disemboweling; Lynch goes all the way, a meal plan immortalized on the new album's "Spit It Out" wherein Lynch chortles: "If anything taste funny spit it out."

"Friday Night" features Lynch's fellow rap madman C.O.S., thumping production by Michael "Seven" Summers, and Brotha Lynch's "body sweatin' like a Juggalo." "I love the Juggalos man," says Lynch of the cult-like, face-painted fans who have embraced him. "They're good people with good hearts who are looking for an outlet from life's pain. I can relate to that." Standout cut "Blinded By Desire" is a sadistic travelogue following Lynch as he drives from California's Bay Area southward towards Los Angeles ("524 miles to SoCal..." begins Lynch) where mayhem will undoubtedly ensue.

Coathanga Strangla is the middle album in a conceptual trilogy, which began with Dinner and a Movie and is slated to conclude with 2012's Mannibalector. Each of the three albums has spawned three videos, which together will comprise the visual document of the terrifying times of Mannibalector. "The three albums and nine videos are about a rapper who's having a bad life and is about to give up on the world," explains Brotha Lynch Hung. "You can hear he's about to walk the thin line, past the thin line, and then go way over it."

Join Brotha Lynch Hung as he continues to obliterate that line like no other artist can do.

Krizz Kaliko

It's not every day a musical genius is born. On July 14, 2009, KRIZZ KALIKO will release his second solo CD, GENIUS,. Along for KRIZZ KALIKO's aurally eclectic rollercoaster ride are E-40, Kutt Calhoun, Big Scoob and, Strange's flagship artist, Tech N9ne. Powered by a fusion of funk, rap, rock, R&B and opera – a self-made style KRIZZ KALIKO calls "Funkra" – GENIUS covers the entire spectrum of genres, from the slow and seductive "Get Off" with Tech N9ne and the rock-flavored "The Chemical" to the street anthem "Back Pack" and the album's crossover single, "Misunderstood."

Stevie Stone

For Stevie Stone, the release of Rollin' Stone, his debut album on Strange Music, signals a move
beyond his past and his arrival with the premier independent rap company. "The album is all
about progression," he says. "It's about my shift from Ruthless Records over to Strange Music.
Everything about Strange is about getting out and touching the people. Everybody's in tune
with the music and with what I'm doing. I've got their undivided attention. They make sure they
know and understand their artists."
Stone backs his words up on the explosive, bass-heavy lead single "808 Bendin'," which features
a remarkable verse from Strange Music honcho, Tech N9ne. The two bonded early on regarding
their mutual love for the 808 drum machine that was a signature of many classic rap songs
created in the 1980s.
"I'm 808-driven," Stone says. "I love that pulse, that backbone. Without pulse, there is no life.
That's what Tech is always saying. I heard the beat for '808 Bendin',' did the verse and the
hook. I thought it was something way, way different for Tech."
Stone keeps the energy at a fever pitch on the confrontational "Raw Talk", featuring Hopsin and
SwizZz, the menacing "Get Buck" and the stark "Keep My Name Out Your Mouth", featuring
Kutt Calhoun.
Elsewhere, Stone showcases his storytelling abilities on the tremendous "Dollar General."
Inspired by the 2007 film, Street Thief, Stone flows with a controlled fury about robbing a series
of businesses. WillPower's somber, piano-driven beat and the whispery chorus, delivered by
Yelawolf, create a potent, otherworldly, sonic ambiance. "I put it like it was a dream," Stone
explains. "I'm not saying that I'm the one that's robbing. It's almost like I'm watching the movie
and fall asleep. It's about my dream."
Music has enabled Stone to live out his dreams and escape his problems. On the soulful "My
Remedy," he details how his problems fade away as soon as he hits the stage. Nonetheless,
music has not provided a total escape. The wistful "2 Far" reveals how Stone's love for music
has created tremendous struggle in his relationship with his woman.
Then there's the dramatic "My Life." On this emotional cut, Stone details the challenges he's
created for himself and his family by pursuing his music career. Although the emotions were
raw, the song took Stone nearly two years to write. "I was wrestling with how much I want to
give to the people," he says. "It's revealing a lot of stuff. I'm talking about my being away from
my kids, my family and loved ones. I'd been writing it for a year or two because I had the beat
for a minute, but I didn't know how much I really wanted to put out there. I just let go and let the
music take me."
Music has taken Stone on the road. Given his love for touring, it makes Stone a natural fit on
Strange Music, as one of the company's key components is its touring enterprise. Add in Stone's
bond with Tech, his high quality music and his dedication to his craft and it's no wonder Stone
is the latest addition to the Strange Music roster. It's also why Stone wrote the song "Perfect
Stranger."
"My first show ever, when I was in high school, was with Tech. Eleven years later, it comes full
circle," he says. "I'm on the label. It's something that I've always wanted. I think I'm a perfect
fit with them."
Born and raised in Columbia, Missouri, Stone has been surrounded by music his entire life. His
mother was a singer and choir director who played piano and organ. One of his sisters also sang
and played instruments. While his mother favored gospel, blues and the work of Marvin Gaye,
Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross, his sisters listened to rap and R&B, providing a wide
range of sounds, styles and artistic influences.
By the time he was five, music consumed Stone. When a beat would start playing, Stone would
be instantly compelled to dance. He later started playing the piano and practicing on the drums.
Stone was simultaneously developing his basketball skills. He received an offer to play
basketball at a junior college in Des Moines, Iowa, and was going to pursue the opportunity.
A few weeks before he was slated to report to school, Stone landed a performance as an
opening act at a concert at the Fulton Fairgrounds. "When I hit that stage, I got the bug," he
recalls. "There was no doubt about it. Music was what I was going to do. I've never turned
back."
Within a few years, Stone secured a production deal in St. Louis with Fly Moves Productions,
requiring he relocate from Columbia. Stone jumped at the opportunity. "You should never be
content with where you're at," he says. "I've got the shoot-for-the-moon-end-up-in-the-stars type
of attitude."
Stone signed in 2007 with Ruthless Records, the label founded by the late gangster rap pioneer
Eazy-E and the recording home of N.W.A. While signed to the imprint, he learned the work ethic
needed in order to succeed in the music industry. He realized that an artist has to do as much as
possible for themselves and not rely on a label.
So, when Stone parted ways with Ruthless a few years later, he was poised for success. He
reconnected with Tech N9ne and Strange Music, which had developed into rap's biggest
independent success story.
Now, with Rollin' Stone about to arrive in stores, Stevie Stone realizes that his climb to success
isn't over. "After every ladder, there's another ladder. You've got to keep climbing the ladder,
keep moving. That's what I'm doing right now."

Ces Cru comes up with a new acronym for each of its releases. But after feeling held somewhat captive by the title of 2013's Constant Energy Struggles, Ubiquitous and Godemis felt creatively liberated when they settled on Codename: Ego Stripper as the title of its second Strange Music album.

"On Constant Energy Struggles, I felt like we were constantly defining what that meant from song to song," Ubiquitous says. "On this one, we're not spelling it out for you."

"The thing that appealed to me about that name is that you couldn't put a finger on exactly what that meant," Godemis adds. "I felt like that was a good angle to come from in writing the music, with no preconceived ideas. I thought that it would open up our writing and draw people in."

The Kansas City duo showcases this newfound latitude on the skeletal "Sound Bite." Sans chorus, Ubiquitous and Godemis deliver stunningly intricate, braggadocio tag-team raps for three-and-a half minutes. "It really showcases our lyrical talent," Godemis says of the Internet hit that has logged more than 70,000 YouTube views in about two weeks. "The beat's kind of empty in a way to where your ear's not taken away by a lot of other different things. The lack of a hook is suicide in a way, I guess, but it's for another MC or a connoisseur of hip-hop."

Ces Cru then flexes its sociopolitical muscles on the masterful "Axiom," a meditation on everything from making a positive change in the world to the War on Drugs and the concept of freedom. In addition to the lyrical heft Ubiquitous and Godemis demonstrate, producer Michael "Seven" Summers adds stirring sonic layers throughout the song. "I really like the pianos that start popping up during Godemis' verse," Ubiquitous says. "The whole front half of the song feels different than the back half. By the end, you're rocking out to the piano. It's a beautiful, thoughtful piece."

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