Matt Agosta reviews the latest from the underground king of hip-hop.
A friend introduced me to Tech N9ne back in 2008 and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. How could someone who could spit at such a high level not be known by everyone in the New York/New Jersey area? It wasn’t until Lil Wayne became a fan of the Strange Music artist that people on this side of the country actually opened their ears. Wayne put Tech on an interlude for Tha Cater IV that also featured legend Andre 3000. This got Tech the exposure he needed and when his eleventh album All 6’s and 7’s came out, it hit #4 on Billboard, the highest chart appearance of his career. Now the hip-hop community is fully aware of this Midwest legend. Tech’s newest album Something Else is looking to build on his recent success.
The album is split into three parts: Fire, Water, and Earth. Fire opens up the album and these songs are exactly what the section suggests. “Straight Out the Gate” which features System of a Down’s Serj Tankian, has Tech doing what he does best: absolutely tearing down the mic. Tankian gives the track a dynamic that is very different for Tech’s music, but it works. The next track “B.I.T.C.H.” (Breaking into color people’s houses) is a track that he released months ago and is what initially got me excited. It’s not about loose women or robbery, but instead he explains why black people don’t like his music, and that he’s determined to break down that barrier. “B.I.T.C.H.” is just another example as to why Tech is such a master songwriter and the epic T-Pain hook just adds to its beauty. This section of the album has a couple other songs that continue with this theme for example, “Fortune Force Field” and “Fragile” which features Kendrick Lamar. The songs aren’t repetitive while keeping with the fire theme and keeps the listener engaged and excited to hear more.
The next part is Water and features Tech’s other obsession, women. Finally Tech made a track after his favorite phrase “Dawm.” It really hits hard and Tech is on his game with the metaphors and punch lines. The album’s first single “So Dope” is exactly what the titles suggests and is another clever track-long metaphor that explains that, to women, his sex is so dope (get it?). “See Me” features B.o.B. and Wiz Khalifa and isn’t bad, but the quality of the track doesn’t fit in with the rest of the album. Up until this point, the feeling was, “OK this is another good Tech N9ne album and any Tech fan is going to be happy,” but once the Earth section comes in, absolutely any fan of hip-hop could fully appreciate this man’s message.
In case you aren’t familiar with Tech, the man is known to be very honest and real with his emotions, but Something Else really brings it to the next level. “That’s My Kid” which features Cee-Lo Green, Big K.R.I.T. and Kutt Calhoun explains Tech’s struggle to connect with and provide for his kids. The song that really brings it home for me is “Meant to Happen”. Each verse explains the torturous pains he’s experienced in life like his mother’s epilepsy and his aunts’ drug dealing. Tech has always been open about these subjects but has never been so detailed with actual events and it helps you get even deeper into Tech’s head. He saves the best verse for last in which he comes to peace with all his pains and realizes that all the things he’s been through happened only so he could relay them to his fans in order to help them get through their issues. It really is a beautiful moment in Tech’s career and this track is one of his absolute best. Tech could have easily ended the album on that note, but he comes in with “Believe” which is an incredibly inspiring song in which he preaches against racism, hate, and violence. The vocals on the hook sound remarkably like Beyonce but after reading the credits for the album she isn’t listed as a feature or a sample. Whoever did sing on the hook does a beautiful job at bringing the theme of the track out for the listener to really grasp.
To end the album Tech has a song called “Strange Days” that features The Doors. Yes, THE Doors. They’re Tech’s favorite band and it was through their song “Strange Days” that Tech was inspired to name his label Strange Music. Finally he got to collaborate on a song with them, and yes it is epic. Tech is celebrating his life, career, and the movement he’s built after so many years of struggling in the industry. They sampled Jim Morrison from the song “Strange Days” and blended it on the hook while the remaining members of the band added some sounds to the beat as well. I could only imagine the moment this must have been for him and if any rapper deserves it, it’s Tech N9ne.
I don’t want to sound cliché but this album really is something else. Tech never fails to amaze me, but even if you’re not a Tech fan, there are all kinds of music on this album for people to appreciate. One of my friends absolutely hates Tech N9ne and the other day we were in my car listening to the album and he said he was really impressed by “So Dope”. He kept wanted to hear it over and over. What I’m saying is, you better check out this album.