Tech N9ne on His 20th Album 'Planet,' Escapism & His Secret to Longevity

Tech N9ne
Dennys Illic

Tech N9ne 

Tech N9ne reveals the social & personal inspirations behind his new LP.

Tech N9ne wanted to leave this Planet. Frustrated with the way his fans responded to his last solo LP, the independent hip-hop titan was looking for an escape.

“They didn’t embrace [2016’s] The Storm like I thought they would. It hurt my feelings and I was pissed,” he tells Billboard. “I said, ‘I’m gonna leave and construct my own planet. I don’t give a damn what nobody thinks.’” The result of that carefree exploration can be found on his latest album, Planet, due March 2 via Strange Music.

Earth’s current events also guided the Kansas City rapper on this 19-track voyage. “You’re watching the same news I’m watching, so you know what I’m talking about without really saying it,” he explains. “People are coming out the woodworks because they feel like the leader is behind bullshit. No girl deserves to be ran over by somebody who thinks they shouldn’t be marching in the street. No unarmed man should be gunned down...This planet needs neutralizing.” Enter Tech N9ne’s creation: Planet Pyune (Peaceful Youth Unit Neutralizing Earth).

It’s not just a utopia. Planet also allows Tech Nina to go after invaders. “No Reason (The Mosh Pit Song),” for instance, indirectly addresses Strange Music’s legal battle and victory over the trap-based record label formerly known as Strainge Entertainment. “That one has [trap] influence because somebody was stupid and tried to use our name,” he coyly quips. “I needed to do that kind of music to get their attention...but with lyrics on it because I had a vendetta.” Machine Gun Kelly guests on the track and isn’t holding back, either. “I don’t know if there’s hidden messages in there for any other rappers, but I have a hunch that he might be talking about somebody,” Tech adds. “He brought The Gunner and that’s what I needed.”

Another visitor on this Planet is Snow Tha Product, who lends her voice to the forceful “How I’m Feelin’.” “She’s always been incredible,” he beams about the San Jose, Calif. MC. “She’s been rapping better than guys out here, and she says that in the song. She’s also talking about the female rapper chicks. She’s got a chip on her shoulder like she’s better than all of them. And you know what? She can stand on that and I’ll stand behind her. Her flow is impeccable.”

Planet is the 20th album in Tech’s storied discography, which includes collaborative projects and compilations. It begs the question: What’s the secret to his longevity? “My love for music is infinite,” he reveals. “But on the real side of things, life is happening.” He cites past issues with the IRS and his recently finalized divorce settlement as examples of how “life keeps happening” all around him, fueling this intense drive. “I got a lot of weight on my shoulders, so you think I ain’t gonna rap everybody’s motherfuckin’ head off? Hell yeah, I am! Because every time I get up, it’s snatched from up under me,” he says. “Now I got it to where I’m a king. I know how to keep it now. That’s why I’m coming for everybody’s jugular, because life is happening and that’s inspiring as a motherfucker!”

His travels aren’t done. After joining forces with the likes of Eminem, Andre 3000, Lil Wayne, Ice Cube, and Kendrick Lamar, Tech Nina has his eyes on a few more bucket-list collaborations. “OutKast,” he says. “For them to come back together to rap with me and my brother Krizz Kaliko would be ginormous. Me and Twenty One Pilots would be wonderful. Me and Nas, I think, is right around the corner.”

Plus, Tech’s growing as an entrepreneur with Strange Music, launching Strange Main to house pop-leaning acts. The first artist on the new imprint is singer Mackenzie Nicole, daughter of the label’s co-founder and CEO, Travis O’Guin, who also appears on Planet’s opener, “Habanero.” “It’s a big step for us,” he says. “For us to start a subsidiary label, the talent must be gargantuan because we’re not just gonna do something like that for the hell of it. We’re goin’ balls to the wall, man. This is baby girl. I’m excited about that!”

But first, the veteran wordsmith is welcoming Earthlings to a new Planet with his latest album, which he says provides a vital message to live by. “The ultimate message is we need each other,” he explains, before reciting a portion of “We Won’t Go Quietly.” “I learned to love from my mother / I feel an angel around me, I know she hovers / Impatiently waiting for you to discover / That people all need each other.” He adds: “People need each other to help each other up. But we can’t stand near each other because we fear each other. When you get over fear, nothing matters anymore but love.” Welcome to Planet Pyune.