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Breaking rules with Tech n9ne Photo: courtesy of Strange Music Inc

Missouri rapper on his most ambitious album and his love of music by Alex J MacPherson


aron Yates likes breaking rules. He’s good at it, too. Yates is a rapper from Kansas City, Missouri who performs under the name Tech N9ne. In a career spanning more than two decades, he has established himself as one of the most successful independent rappers in the world. And he did it by breaking the rules. In the early part of the last decade, when artists were still flocking to major record labels, Yates started his own. As singles and EPs made a comeback because of plummeting sales and ballooning costs, he began releasing records that ran past an hour. When the music industry turned to new technology, he embraced the traditional method of building a career: releasing good records and touring relentlessly. His latest project is no different. A sprawling concept album, Something Else is one of the most ambitious records Yates has ever made. Running well past 60 minutes and loaded with a diverse array of sounds and guest performers, Something Else is yet another milestone in a career defined by ambition, restless creativity — and a healthy contempt for rules

world is going to end in fire. I’m like, oh my God, meteorites are going to do it.” Yates uses the destructive force of a meteor shower as a metaphor for the chaos and confusion of the world today; the first section of the record unfolds like an endless reel of nightmarish footage, each frame rendered in horrifying detail.

“I knew that I wanted it to be bigger than All 6’s And 7’s, and that’s an amazing feat, you know?” Yates says, referring to the first album he released in 2011, which received glowing reviews despite its staggering 76-minute length. “To think that you can get bigger than that is really a narcissistic thing. But it happened,

I don’t try to genre-bend. It’s just something I’ve always done … It’s like this is just me being the clusterf**k I am… aaron yates

you know?” Something Else unfolds in three distinct sections; they are titled “Fire,” “Water,” and “Earth.” The sections are broken up by simulated newscasts featuring Mark Alford, the voice of Fox News in Yates’ hometown of Kansas City. The album opens with Alford reading reports of fire raining from the sky. “It was inspired by something that scared the hell out of me,” Yates says of the first section. “In Revelations, in the Bible, they say the

The opening section of Something Else is anchored by the stunning “I Am Not A Saint.” Constructed from old spirituals and the rhythmic pulse of a muted drum kit, the song is wrenchingly, almost unbearably, honest. Yates says he was inspired to write it after Seven (the stage name of Michael Summers, who produced most of the album) sent him the beat. “When a beat talks to me, I usually tell Seven, ‘You’re going to make me tell Continued on next page »

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Profile for Parity Publishing Inc.

Verb Issue S253 (Aug. 16-22, 2013)  

Verb Issue S253 (Aug. 16-22, 2013)

Verb Issue S253 (Aug. 16-22, 2013)  

Verb Issue S253 (Aug. 16-22, 2013)

Profile for verb