By Scott T. Sterling
When Forbes released its latest list of hip-hop’s 20 wealthiest artists for 2014, many were surprised to see independent Kansas City rapper Tech N9ne sitting pretty at No. 18, having generated $7.5 million over the past year. The business publication was even inspired to feature Tech N9ne in a separate article, coining him “Hip-Hop’s Secret Mogul,” emphasizing how he was able to achieve such meteoric success without the benefit of a major label behind him.
“I wanted to keep it a secret. When people feel like to won the lottery, they call you,” the rapper himself laughed when asked about the Forbes article during a recent interview with Radio.com. “When you make that much money, I guess they have to report it. I’m proud of it. We’re steadily on the incline, and it’s a blessing to be able to do it independent.”
Currently performing across America on the “Independent Grind” tour with a collection of high-profile opening acts including Freddie Gibbs and Krizz Kaliko, Tech N9ne is supporting his latest full-length release of collaborations, Strangeulation, featuring appearances by Brotha Lynch Hung and Murs.
It was on 2013 artist album, Something Else, however, when the rapper was able to pull off the once in a lifetime collaboration of working with the surviving members of The Doors on the track “Strange 2013,” which utilizes the voice of frontman Jim Morrison with a sample of the Doors’ 1967 song, “Strange Days.”
“Their music and fusion of sounds is so dark carnival, and that’s so me, the killer clown. I’ve been a fan of their music since way back, since I can’t even remember when. I had no idea that I’d ever get the chance to work with them,” Tech N9ne remembered of the collaboration. “Right before Ray (Manzarek) passed, we did this. I had no idea that he was sick or anything. I don’t even know if he knew. But we were drinking wine and everything in the studio, John Densmore was so laid back, Robby Krieger was cool as hell. I went to go visit Jim Morrison in Paris at the Père Lachaise Cemetery in 2010. I told him thank you. I had no idea I was going to work with his homeboys. It was a dream come true, because I named my label Strange Music because of their music. back when I was smoking weed hella…I stopped smoking weed in ’98, but back then, I was really listening to the Doors, really going in. But you don’t have to be high to listen to the Doors.”
Having built his sizable Strange Music empire in his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, the rapper is ready to expand his local impact by rolling out his very own three-day music festival that would bring some of music’s biggest acts (and massive crowds of fans) to his corner of the American heartland.
“We’ve been planning it for a long time. It’s called the Dark Barbeque,” he explained of his festival plans which would emphasize the city’s legendary food. “It’ll probably be a three-day thing. One day (it could) be Slipknot playing, the next night it might be Ice Cube and Brother Lynch and Tech N9ne, the third night could be Eminem, I don’t know. It’s just got to be humongous.”
Watch the rapper talk about Kansas City, his definition of the “Independent Grind” and more in the exclusive video interview above.