Tech N9ne’s musical career used to be defined by struggle. Now it’s being defined by success. After more than a decade of dealing with questions about his genre-bending music, his imagery, his appeal to black fans and his willingness to tour in secondary markets, the Kansas City rap pioneer enjoyed his first No. 1 album with “All 6’s And 7’s,” which was the No. 1 album on the Rap and Independent Albums upon its release in June. It was also the No. 4 album on Billboard’s Top 200 chart.
Tech used all the long running doubts and questions to build one of rap’s most successful independent brands with his own Strange Music, which he co-owns with partner Travis O’Guin. Tech and the company have been so successful, in fact, that Tech is able to headline his own tours, including his 85-date “All 6’s and 7’s -- The Tour,” which concludes August 6 at The Pops Night Club in Sauget, Illinois.
The Beautiful Struggle
Despite Tech’s success, struggle remains a crucial part of his reality.
“Being in Strangeland all these years with people [dissing your music], you tend to think that you’re just in there with you and your fans,” Tech N9ne says. “Black people weren’t coming to my shows and it’s a fight to get everybody [of all races] at my shows, but my music is for everybody. That’s been the whole fight the whole time. Me not knowing that the people are aware.”
So rather than pout and hope that things got better, Tech N9ne did something about it. The Kansas City rapper hit the road early and often in his career, making touring a key component to his musical movement. He’s been performing religiously for the last decade-plus, slowly but steadily building a fanbase that has steadfastly supported his music.
The success of his tours and the high quality of his performances has led to a steady expansion of his tours and a self-generating stream of new fans.
“It meant that every time I came to those towns, it grew even more every time I came back,” he says. “Now when I come to Calgary, it’s even more people. They remember me being on Rock The Bells and stuff like that. I’ve seen it grow right before my eyes, man. It’s such a weird thing to see. It’s spreading because of good music, because of the production, the good showmanship. Sometimes you get good music but no showmanship. In this case, I was blessed to be one that can perform what I do in that studio. I’m blessed because some people cannot do it in a way that you would want to go see them more than once. People say they keep coming back and they [tell their friends], ‘You’ve got to see this.’”
Now, as Tech N9ne would say, the virus is spreading. After more than a decade of releasing music, he’s finally landed a chart-topping album and he’s about to complete the longest-running tour of his career.
If anything, the success has taught him that he needs to keep working.
“That’s what touring has taught me, that we’ve got to keep moving,” he says. “On this tour, it’s 82 shows in 85 days because we’re going some places that I’ve never been. I don’t ever remember going to North Carolina, to Nashville, Tennessee. There’s more people there asking now because they’ve heard stories about the boogieman and now the boogieman is real. We’re going to these places.”
For more from Soren Baker follow him on Twitter: @SorenBaker.
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