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Tech N9ne

A New Look for a New Year

Kansas City rapper Tech N9ne has a clean-cut new look -- his trademark bright red spikes are gone -- but his lyrical style remains poignant and twisted. He returns to the Bay Area later this month in support of his latest album Everready, which includes several tracks produced by Northern California heavyweight Rick Rock, and appearances by Vallejos E-40 and Sacramento rapper Brotha Lynch. Tech N9ne spoke with SF Station during a phone interview from a tour date in Salt Lake City.

SF Station (SFS): How did you get involved with the Alpha Dog soundtrack?

Tech N9ne (TN): The director Nick Cassavetes was looking for music with a more rap-oriented feel. He listened to my album Absolute Power -- his wifes kid was a fan -- and called the phone number on the CD.

SFS: Your music probably fits the storyline better than Justin Timberlakes.

TN: No doubt. Thats definitely right.

SFS: Why did you get rid of your Mohawk and red hair?

TN: Being a black man on tour, doing a 150 shows a year, I couldnt take care of the dyed and bleach hair. It started falling out and I started looking like a silly clown, so I had to cut it off and start from scratch. Im in the process of growing my afro back.

SFS: Is it the start of a new era for you?

TN: Yeah, it happened on its own. Its a big new era. Everready brought new, refreshing themes and topics, the haircut just happened to follow suit. But, it wasnt an attempt to be different, it was an attempt to not look idiotic with my hair falling out.

SFS: Youre spending a lot of time in Northern California on this tour. Do you have strong ties to this area?

TN: Yes, I do. Ive got a lot of lady friends that take care of me while Im out there. I party when Im out there. When Im on tour, I look at it as a party every night. Im celebrating life. People come pay to see me rap about my pain and my pleasure, especially out on the West Coast. Im starting to do the East Coast now, too. A couple months ago we went there and I had no idea I had so many fans out there. Weve been favoring Cali for a long time, but now its time to spread the wealth.

SFS: There is a connection between the Bay Area and Kansas City rap scenes. Did Bay Area rap have any influence on you when started rapping?

TN: Hell, yeah. When E-40 dropped Mr. Flamboyant, Kansas City was Bay Area-d out. Now, you cant come to Kansas City without getting hyphy or seeing sideshows. The Bay style is deep rooted in Kansas City. Its crazy how it happened, because we are so far away.

SFS: Why do think Bay Area rap is so popular out there?

TN: Its a gangsta town. The swagger is so similar to Bay Area swagger, it just goes hand-in-hand. I really have no explanation for it. All I can say is E-40 affected the Midwest, and then came Mac Dre. Everybody is into Thizz Nation now. Everyone in my town says "yadadmean".

SFS: Mac Dre was shot and killed in Kansas City, did that change anything?

TN: That hasnt changed the vibe at all. Kansas City loves Mac Dre. That was some street shit that happened that should have never happened. Its truly love. Everybody dresses, talks like him and walks like him. Its just ironic that he died in a place that adored him so.

Tech N9ne performs at the Independent on January 29th. Tickets cost $20, Doors open at 7:30pm and the show starts at 8pm.