Über Tech N9ne
One of the foremost practitioners of Midwest horrorcore, Kansas City's Tech N9ne has been frightening listeners with his warped ghetto tales for nearly a decade, though casual listeners wouldn't know it from his paltry recording output. Like most artists who gravitate towards the bloody extremes, Tech (ne Aaron Yates) was brought up in a very strict, religious household with a fundamentalist Christian mother and a Muslim stepfather. Despite their best attempts to shelter him, Tech was exposed to rap early when an uncle brought over a copy of proto-rapper Blowfly's "Rap Dirty." Tech was immediately captivated and soon picked up a mike and started spitting his own rhymes. At 17, he left home and soon got involved in the drug game. But during this time, Tech's rap career was beginning to take off and the young rapper moved to New Orleans for the sake of his career. He has lent his unique perspective to tracks by such artists as Eminem, D12 and Tupac. Unfortunately, it would be the first of many false starts, and he would soon be forced to return to Kansas City sans record deal. Tech refused to give up his dreams, though, and he hooked up with longtime collaborator Icy Rock and producer Dan Juan, who would help the rapper record his 2001 debut, Anghellic. Based on the success of advance singles, the album received major label distribution via Interscope Records. Anghellic was predictably dark, opening with the invocation "Welcome to hell" and refusing to relent thereafter. Tracks such as "Psycho Bitch," "Suicide Letters" and "Tormented" were ghoulishly sinister, approaching the tone and themes of fellow Midwesterner Eminem's more extreme tracks. Though the album was lauded in underground circles, it didn't catch on in the mainstream and Tech was dropped from his contract. Undeterred, he quickly re-entered the studio and independently released 2002's Absolute Power. That album opened with the anti-industry screed "The Industry Is Punks." Throughout both of his two proper full-lengths, Tech's vocal cadence displayed an unusual pliability. From the double-time rap of "The Industry Is Punks" to the growl of "Trapped in a Psycho's Body," Tech's flow was unpredictable. The only common denominator among the songs was Tech's ability to project a sense of impending menace. We can only hope that this Midwestern madman will once again be resurrected.