Before his epic concert last night at Club Cinema in Pompano, we jumped at the chance to chat with Strange Music mogul Tech N9ne about the Hostile Takeover Tour and his recent outspoken defense of hip-hop leading man Lil Wayne. Tech, born Aaron Dantez Yates, has been in the rap game since the late '90s. He earned his place as a revered artist with talent and hard work, selling over one million albums since he first hit the scene.
We caught up with Yates early in the afternoon and, as can be expected from a man who just performed around 90 shows in something like 100 days, he was asleep. Luckily for us, and for all of you, he woke up and got his act together in about 20 minutes before inviting us to his yacht-sized tour bus.
Contrary to his on-stage persona, Yates is noticeably quiet and mellow. Some of that might have to do a day long drinking binge he embarked upon the day before on Deerfield Beach. Dressed casually in shorts and a tee shirt, complete with house slippers and blacked out Oakley shades, he was quick to warm up. His charm and passion translate in our interview, something hard to do in black and white type.
Tech N9ne: I love it, I love it. (Picks up print copy of Miami New Times) I was just reading this from yesterday and yeah, it's so wonderful.
After I read it I said (on Twitter) "So proud to be with you guys, and you guys be with me...it's so wonderful and thank you so much" and they (MAYDAY!) returned with "So happy to be in the ranks."
Do you think MAYDAY! brings something new to the hip-hop scene that people haven't heard before?
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Oh totally, their whole sound is totally different. It's so atmospheric and it just, ya know, when the whole Strange Music sound is so loud and boisterous, they bring it down a notch, but it's still up a notch. I wish I had a word for it man, it's so comfortable and so forceful at the same time.
They fit in everywhere, and as soon as I get them on late night TV, or TV period, everybody will see that I'm right. Their music is for everybody, just like mine, but I think theirs will touch a lot more people, and that's what we aim to do. Everyone needs to experience this beautiful music coming from Florida.
On a scale of 1-10, where would we find you on the scale of exhaustion?
Twenty. Yeah, we're all exhausted. This is like show 87 out of 96, so we're all like "blerghhh." This has never been done before, but it all disappears when you go on stage. We're good as far as when the music comes on you just forget about yourself being tired and give the fans everything you can. And we give a whole bunch.
Do you think any zombies will show up tonight and can you give us a couple lines of zombie-freestyle?
I'm the zombie leader, so it's like, I don't need bath salts to do it. I did a song with E-40 and Lynch Hung called Zombie, "Zombie, monster ghoul, or fiend" before any of this happened with eatin' faces. So, I invite all people and zombies to attend if they'd like because, truly, they're all out there in the crowd.
[in a monotone yet melodic tone]
"If you're a zombie, monster, ghoul, a fiend,
If you're a zombie then you gotta love Tech, Lynch and 40 sing,
So you gotta be conscious of what it mean,
You're a zombie so you gotta be ready for what it brings"
How is the tour dynamic holding up at this point in the series, is anyone at each others throats?
Machine Gun Kelly is still here after a lot of rocky things have happened, and I'm proud that everyone else is still here. We've lost a few roadies along the way, one had to go home because his wife was having a baby! I can't say anything more that wouldn't embarrass them. I say it and they read it and they're like, "Shit Tech, what'd you say?"
How do you respond to the "trend" of haters, people claiming so-and-so has sold out or discrediting your collabs with other artists?
No matter what people say or who I do music with, I do my type of music -- who can get T-Pain and Lil Wayne on a song and call it "Fuck Food" where it can't be played on radio or video? I do music. So, anybody who says "Ohh, you did a song with Wayne, you're a sellout." I say Fuck You, that's what I say to those people. People can have their [musical] preference, but when I tell you that those people are my family, in front of me don't say nothin deragatory.
You may like my dark music or whatever, but you will NOT say that I sold out because I did a song with B.O.B called "Am I a Psycho," that is soo "Tech N9ne."
How does it feel to be that "Tech N9ne" who has a bus with his picture on it?
I can't believe it's my job, still. I'm backstage about to perform and I hear them screaming before I come out, I shake my head like I can't believe this is my job, I was such a fuck up and such a culsterfuck.
It's because of my brain; I put my thoughts and my soul and my heart on paper and it did this, I'm so proud. My family never sees me because I'm married to my fans, that's the saddest part about it really, being away from my children. I'm actually working for their future and their present and shit like that, they know, but they still treat me the same. They call me by my middle name, Dantez.
Does you think your faith, in reality, is confusing to fans?
I want it to be confusing, because if it's confusing, they'll go research it. If I say something like "Mama married a Muslim when I was 12 and the transition was the worst ya'll/I converted to Islam but every once in a while I read a Bible verse, ya'll," I let them into me all the way. If they really are confused about what I'm talking about they'll go research it, I want my music to teach and inspire you know what I mean, and that's what I do.
(On tour) We pray every day and hope that something is listening. We were raised Christian, but my mom married a Muslim when I was 12, and it made a wonderful clusterfuck of a person, Tech N9ne. I rap my life like Quincy Jones told me to, and people respond and that's a blessing.