Review: Tech N9ne's "Something Else"

Review: Tech N9ne's "Something Else"

After more than 20 years in the rap game, Tech N9ne proves that there's no slowing him down with his thirteenth album "Something Else."

Tech N9ne has been in the rap game for well over two decades but he flew under mainstream’s radar for much of his career. Shooting off lyrics with the speed of an automatic weapon, he earned a legion of fans through relentless tours to small cities in the heartland of the country. But it was a two-minute interlude featuring Tech N9ne on Lil Wayne’s 2011 highly anticipated album Tha Carter IV that changed things for the Kansas City native. That same year Tech’s All 6’s and 7’s album debuted at the fourth slot on the Billboard chart.

In his first solo album since All 6’s and 7’s, Tech crafted Something Else as a concept album broken up into three acts (Fire, Water and Earth). Kansas City Fox News anchor Mark Alford’s marks the beginning of each section with a breaking news update about a meteorite that’s making a beeline for Kansas City. Tech wastes no time setting things off with the ruckus “Straight Out The Gate.” System of a Down’s Serj Tankian and Krizz Kaliko help Tech rhyme of the impending doom but it the children’s chant at the beginning of the song that sets the tone:

“Together we are, a powerful force, as one mind, body and soul/ Let no evil enter nor attempt to reduce us because of the beliefs we hold/ And with this love, combined with our strength, we ward off pain and stress/ Technician I am, whole heartedly in life and in death”

Tech continues with the heat by following up with several songs that bring just as much velocity and voraciousness as the opening track. The Strange Music head honcho and T-Pain don ski masks while breaking into houses on “B.I.T.C.H.”  On with “With The BS” Red Café and Big Scoob help Tech caution those that step to them the wrong way but it is Trae Tha Truth that sprays word for word and bar for bar with the fast-spitting Tech N9ne. 

In “I’m Not A Saint,” a song that would fit in perfectly during one of New Orleans famous funeral marches, Tech gets very personal and frank (and quite possibly makes a very serious confession at the end of the song):

“Animosity surround me/ And it’s all because I found me/ How deceptive can the clown be/ Enough to leave frowns upon the face of those who found me/ So much evil in my mind state/ Many think that they can define Yates/ But cannot tame the wicked primate/ Who preach his sinful thoughts and lead the listeners on blind faith" 

The intensity slows down considerably for the Water section of Something Else, if just for a moment. “So Dope” is a quintessential Tech N9ne song. He is at his best when his tongue shoots off alliterations with the speed of the same gun that he’s named after. It should be noted that Wrekonize, Twisted Insane, and Snow Tha Product sling words with the same vigor on this song. Tech is a proud and overly protective dad with the help of Cee-Lo Green, Big K.R.I.T. and Kutt Calhoun on “That’s My Kid.” In “See Me” featuring Wiz Khalifa and B.o.B., he shows off his pop song making skills.

On the final leg of Tech’s Something Else, he inspires hope in Earth. In “Believe,” Kansas City songbird Kortney Leveringston sings a rousing chorus that rivals Beyonce while Tech speaks out against judging one another based solely on the color of his or her skin:

“Racism is passed down and gay gives them mad frowns/ But how they live and laugh now should be they biz and last sound from class clowns/ People should be free to be together/ Should be free to be whatever, you can see that we can better/ When we give respect is good in any language/ People are the strangers but we don’t wanna see any anguish”

One of the stand-out songs from Something Else is a Kendrick Lamar, Mayday! and Kendall Morgan assisted track, the soulful “Fragile.” Borrowing a line from a live performance of Erykah Badu’s “Tyrone,” Tech spits some of his venom directly at the music critics.

“Write a rhyme and I put everything in a flow/ I’m the N9ne, I’ma look very mean when a foe/ Scribe a line but he has never been to a show/ Buy the Times it’ll be better, leave it in the store/ Cause they wrote nothing but lies, quotes stuck in my eyes/ Amateur writer dissin/ He’s a beginner and hopes for your demise, folks I’ma despise/ Never do try to listen”

Although he reaches out to producers Drumma Boy, Scoop DeVille and a handful of others on a few tracks, most of the production is left in the hands of Seven, who’s worked with Tech since his 2006 Everready album. It’s obvious the two have a history working with each other. The overall sound of the album flows seamlessly throughout its three sections.

It’s fitting the man who has been seen as a misfit on the outskirts of rap wearing face paint would end things with “Strange 2013” a remake of The Doors’ “Strange Days,” which actually features the famed rock band including the recently deceased Ray Manzarek. While other rappers can fit neatly into one category or another, Tech N9ne proves with his thirteenth album that he is Something Else.

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