Q&A: Tech N9ne On Lil Wayne, The Doors, And Getting Drunk On Hip-Hop Squares
You were on Tha Carter IV, on a track with Andre 3000. Was that Lil Wayne cameo a big tipping point for you?
Yeah, for my people. My people were like, "I knew he could do it, all these years." My fans are like [feigns a scratchy whine] "Why did you do it? Lil Wayyyyyynnnnne?'
I went into Rikers Island and I talked to him for three hours. I had no idea what we were going to talk about. We had a lot in common. He's a good guy and I always dug what he did. People just try to slam him because he's mainstream. He worked his way up to being what he is, so when people say bad things about him, I feel like I want to fight. I know him as a persongood guyand I have to separate myself and say, "People have their preferences, it's cool." But [inside] I'm like, 'Say one more thing about Wayne, and see what I do!' [laughs]
We keep in touch with each other and everything. Every once in awhile, I hear something about him, "I'm like, 'Don't let the demons bring you down brother." It's a friend thing.
Your fans don't like that he's "mainstream."
I just said his name on one of my new songs, "808 Bendin" with Stevie Stone on Stevie Stone's new album. I say, "You know I can't sing without a guitar string/ Roll around town and I'm bumping Lil Wayne/ Everybody know that we're in the same gang." People are saying, "Why's he have Lil Wayne's name on his tongue? Uhhh. Why'd he say that?' It pisses me off because that's my bro. I said his name because I gave him a shout-out, you stupid ba-da-da-da.
Technicians are protective. They feel like they had this secret thing that nobody else knew about.
They gotta realize, they did this. They burnt my CDs and spread it to everybody who shunned me. I thank them. Wherever I goyou did it! You pushed me to the top. They're still pushing me and I love it. I want my music for everyone.
What do you have in common with Wayne?
The religious thing, we touched on. Of course, we're gonna have women in common. They're a wonderful thing. We love women. That's why you can get this wonderful conversation when I wake up and it's not like one-word answers: "No. Yes. Good. Okay, bye." Know what I'm saying? My publicist knows a woman can get more out of me. So when I found out [you were] a woman, "I was like, yeah, okay, let's go." A guy, I'd be like, "Yeah, yeah, bye."
I'm lucky I guess. So you recently recorded a collaboration for your new album with the Doors?
I've been a fan since I don't know how long ago. I never knew that I'd get to work with them. I was inspired by Jim's words on "Strange Days" and "People Are Strange," so I named my label Strange Music.
What did you love about them?
Jim Morrison is a rebel. Keep in mind that he died when I was born, '71, so I got his music later in my life, from DJs I lived with when I was 19 and stuff like that. I'm 40 years old now. Songs like "Five to One," "Love Me Two Times," "The End"just the rebel of his mind. He was a poet, he didn't care what people thought. That was so me. I'm just free with myself. I give all of me and that's what I felt through their music.
In 2010, when I was first called to Paris to do a show, I discovered Père Lachaise [Cemetery] was there. We went and found his gravesite and we drank with him. I told him "Thanks for the inspiration." Because Strange Music saved my life. I had no idea what I was going to do. I was going to be a psychiatrist, but I left school in my 12th grade year, on the honor roll.
You wanted to be a psychiatrist?
It turned out that I'm my fans' psychiatrist. People tell me, "I was gonna commit suicide, but your song 'Suicide Letters' really touched me." It feels soooo wonderful that I get to do both.
When I was in school, I wanted to know why people did what they do. I was infatuated with serial killers. Why would that evil be within somebody's brain? How could John Wayne Gacy do that? How could Ted Bundy do that? I wanted to understand. I bought all these books on serial killers. When girls come by my house and they look and they see serial killer, serial killer, serial killer, they're like, "Oh my God!" I'm like, "No no no, I'm just reading them. I'm not trying to learn!"
What'd you drink with Jim?
I drank Jack with Jim. I had some red wine too.
Tech N9ne headlines Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey on Saturday and the Highline Ballroom on Sunday with Machine Gun Kelly and Mayday.