Tech N9ne has a frenetic rapping style that’s all his own. He’s inventive and unpredictable.
“The cadence is hard,” said Tech N9ne in a phone interview from his Kansas City home. “I write in a mathematical manner. For some of my songs I rhyme every syllable. It’s a science. When I write it has to make sense. It has to be on beat. It’s extremely difficult but it comes second nature to me.”
Something must be working. The 46-year-old, whose real name is Aaron Yates, has become an indie sensation on the hip-hop scene.
We talked to the MC with the machine gun-rapping style before he performs at The Ritz Nov. 17. He talked about his longevity, and what it was like to recently meet his hero, Public Enemy’s Chuck D.
Q: You deliver some wild political raps. If you had one question for President Donald Trump, what would it be?
A: The one question I would have for Donald Trump is inspired by his “Make America Great Again” cap. I would ask him, “When was America great? When did America not have an economic depression or a war?”
Q: You’re a middle-aged dude in a young man’s game. How do you stay relevant?
A: I absolutely agree. This is a young man’s game. I stay in the game because my material is still resonant. People can relate to what I’m rapping about.
Q: You have a lot to say with your loaded raps in an era when some of your peers don’t deliver much of a message.
A: I get where you’re going. Maybe the majority of people want to hear more simplistic things. There are guys out there that are rapping, or more like mumbling, and they’re making a million bucks. But that will not stand the test of time. I’ve been at this for decades. I’ve seen many MCs rise and fall. I’ve seen waves. It’s difficult to stay relevant for many years but I’ve somehow managed to do so. I’m honest and provocative.
Q: Who were your heroes when you were growing up?
A: The guys that made the power music and that’s Public Enemy and NWA. I studied those records like they were textbooks, and they were, as far as I’m concerned. I was so inspired by (Public Enemy’s) “It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.”
Q: When did you meet Chuck D of Public Enemy for the first time, and what was that like?
A: The crazy thing is that I met Chuck for the first time last year. I met (Public Enemy’s) Flavor Flav a number of times over the years but I didn’t meet Chuck until he was in Prophets of Rage. I was at their show in Kansas City. He was so cool. He told me that I was meant to be Tech N9ne. Meeting him was an amazing experience.
Q: Halloween, which just passed, must be your holiday, since you’re a huge fan of the film “Halloween.” The word is that you collect “Halloween” memorabilia. What do you have?
A: If you ever come to my home, you have to check it out. I have a shrine to Michael Myers. I have a “Welcome to Haddonfield” sign. I have the actual script from 1978. I have a knife signed by (the original Michael Myers) Tony Moran. I’m like Michael Myers.
A: He moves in a stealth manner and so do I. He still gets his target. He slowly goes for the kill.
Q: But he has that big knife. What do you have?
A: My knife is my pen.
Q: What were you like when you were growing up in Kansas City?
A: I was not an athlete but I was a break-dancer. I was a beatboxer, an entertainer.
Q: Why do you still live in Kansas City and not Los Angeles?
A: I moved to LA in 2004 and I moved back to KC in 2005. I know this city like the back of my hand. There’s no place like it. It inspires me.
Who: Tech N9ne
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 17
Where: The Ritz, 2820 Industrial Blvd., Raleigh.
Info: 919-424-1400 or ritzraleigh.com