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Tech N9ne

WHO IS HE?

Tech N9ne, a guy who can either sell out the Rialto or come very close every time he comes to town, probably doesn't need our promotional help. After all, every time he releases a new album (like last month's Strangeulation, part of Tech's collaborations series, which features a track with Tucsonan Murs, who recently signed to Tech's label, Strange Music), there are posters and flyers all over town, it seems. The rapid-fire rapper from the Midwest has a fan base that's loyal beyond most in hip-hop fandom: a Forbes article last year estimated that 5,000 to 10,000 people have a Strange Music tattoo and the label brings in around $6 million in merchandise sales each year.

BUY THIS ALBUM

The volume of releases from Tech N9ne makes picking one essential album a challenge, since he seems to work more on volume than anything, putting out a new release basically every year, but even at that pace, each album (the collaborations, a bit less so) builds upon the base of his early horror-themed releases adding depth, ambition and more nuanced lyrical themes. While this contradicts the premise of some of his songs preaching that critics are trying to bring him down, 2013's Something Else shows that N9ne isn't resting just on his ability to make tons of money on the road. There's a track with that almost sounds like punk-weirdos Death Grips, a jazzy radio-friendly track ("Fragile") with Kendrick Lamar and even a song paying tribute to the Doors (this assumes you believe paying tribute to the Doors is a good idea, I suppose).

ESSENTIAL TRACKS

You have to start back in the early days with 2001's "Psycho Bitch," where N9ne calls out the world of crazy ex-girlfriends, over the horror-film callback of John Carpenter's theme to Halloween.

From 2002's Absolute Power, "I'm a Player," flips Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus" into a surprisingly aggressive track with guest Krizz Kaliko.

2006's "Come Gangsta" (from Everready (The Religion) is part of his assault on critics, letting writers like me (I guess) know that even though he might be weird, we should still remain intimidated.

Tech can still have fun, don't worry. 2008's "Like Yeah" (from Killer) stays aggressive, but has the feel of a classic Ludacris-styled club banger.

Finally, we have to rep for our local guy, Murs, and his collaboration on the new album, Strangeulation, on the track "Hard (A Monster Made It)," which sounds like the soundtrack to a lost Mortal Kombat game, with a sing-along chorus using the word "constipated," which doesn't come up all that often.

More by Dan Gibson

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