KNITTING FACTORY PRESENTS
Tech N9ne: Independent Grind Tour 2018
Given the chaos enveloping the world and his status as an artistic visionary, Tech N9ne realized he could create the change he wished to see. The pioneering platinum Kansas City rapper spent about a year crafting Planet, his remarkable new album that represents a world much different from the one we inhabit.
“I wanted to create my own planet because this one seems to be having so many problems with hatred and murders,” Tech N9ne explains. “I just wanted to leave this planet by creating my own, with love and hella lyrics.”
Tech N9ne’s lyrical supremacy and appreciation for love shines throughout the Planet track “Levitation.” Here, Tech N9ne raps over ethereal sonics about how the adulation he gets from his supporters makes him feel like he’s floating.
“I feel like David Blaine when I’m on that stage,” Tech N9ne reveals. “But the love I get when I’m on the same level as them, like at the meet and greets, when they’re not looking up to me and they’re looking straight at me saying that my music kept them alive, that my music helped them through their mother’s death, that my music helped them through suicidal thoughts and is the reason they’re here now, that’s beautiful. When they say that what I went through with my mom lessened their pain to know that somebody that they look up to is going through the same thing, it makes me feel like I’m levitating. They hold me up high, put me up high because I can save lives, like a doctor or a paramedic. That makes me feel like I’m levitating, the people and their stories of how I helped them through life has me floating.”
Tech N9ne then delivers what will likely become one of his signature songs with “We Won’t Go Quietly,” an elegant and eloquent piano-accented track where he examines the roots of racism, emotional pain and fear, and notes how to overcome them with a loving and caring spirit. The source of Tech N9ne’s optimism came from a special person in his life.
“The whole song was based around love, and I learned to love from my mother,” Tech N9ne reveals. “Since I’m trying to bring everybody together instead of separate and discriminate, the whole basis is love. If we didn’t fear each other, we could stand near each other. My mother’s last words to me were, ‘Liberty and justice for all.’ She just kept saying it. That’s why the gist of the song is togetherness with love, since that’s what we’re lacking on this planet since I’ve been on it.”
Ever since Tech N9ne’s been on the planet, though, his love of hip-hop culture (graffiti, breakdancing, DJing and rapping) has been a driving force in his life. One of the songs that helped shape him as a breakdancer was Hashim’s “Al-Naafiysh (The Soul),” the famous 1983 dance track best known for its up-tempo beat and futuristic, robotic “It’s time” refrain. Today, Tech N9ne pops with his tongue, and wanted to remake “Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)” as a nod to his childhood. The resulting “Tech N9ne (Don’t Nobody Want None)” reflects Tech N9ne’s b-boy background and his lyrical gymnastics as his undulating and varying flows match the song’s mystic aura.
“It’s an honor to be able to re-do ‘Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)’ on my record to pay homage to all the breakdancers and all the DJs, all the dance crews,” Tech N9ne says. “That’s me. I just started rapping and it took the place of my dancing.”
Now that Tech N9ne focuses on rapping, he takes the craft seriously, approaching it as the master craftsman that he is. On the bouncy “How I’m Feelin’” with Snow Tha Product, he flows in normal, single and triple time to demonstrate that rappers can excel while employing a variety of flows. It’s an exercise in top-tier floetry in defense of rap’s expansive artistry.
Elsewhere on Planet, Tech N9ne utilizes a stop-and-start style on “Drink Up” over a striking EDM aural collage. Then, with “No Reason,” Tech N9ne takes a confrontational approach. Backed by a menacing soundscape that matches his abrasive words, the Strange Music head uses middle finger energy to go after a bogus label that emerged in 2016 with a name strikingly similar to the one that Tech and partner Travis O’Guin have been building for more than 15 years. “How dare you try to steal that name, Strange,” Tech N9ne says rhetorically, “after so much work we’ve done, and dilute it like that?”
Indeed, Tech N9ne and his Strange Music have become iconic rap brands, so he has good reason to be protective of his musical turf, his family, and his legacy. Fiercely independent since the early 1990s, Tech N9ne and Strange Music made their mark by creating mind-blowing music, touring relentlessly, delivering one of rap’s best live shows, dominating the merchandising game, and cultivating legions of fans around the world who swear by Tech N9ne’s music and the Strange Music brand.
The proof of Tech N9ne’s reach is evidenced by several metrics. On the sales front, he earned his first platinum plaque June 20, 2017 with “Caribou Lou,” a standout selection from his 2006 album, Everready (The Religion), a remarkable feat given that the song was released 11 years earlier. As a performer, Tech N9ne also regularly does more than 150 concerts a year, headlining his own domestic and international tours, and appearing at festivals and special events. He does this while releasing albums, compilations, and working on the projects from his stable of artists. This steady and successful work is the reason Tech N9ne remains a fixture on Forbes’ Cash Kings list.
Now, after focusing on creating the world and vibe in which he and others can thrive, Tech N9ne is ready to share his latest masterwork, one overflowing with an optimistic take on mankind and its potential.
“I went on my own planet and did my own thing,” he says. “I wasn’t worried. I was relaxed constructing my planet. I didn’t have to worry about time restrictions or anything because it was coming like water.”
Welcome to Tech N9ne’s Planet, a utopian melding of message and musical mastery.
Growing up around music from his Father & two older brothers, it was inevitable that Futuristic would be a natural. He wrote his first raps at the age of six and hasn't looked back since. Born in Illinois but moved to Arizona in high school & currently residing in North Hollywood. Futuristic's flow seems to be just as hot as his surroundings.
His album "The Rise" released on May 12th 2015 debuted at #2 on itunes and #9 on Hip-Hop Billboard charts. He has been touring virtually non-stop over the last 3 years headlining his own tours and supporting acts with a wide variety of fanbases. His fast witty lyrics mixed with substance and relatable subject matter has gained him his own cult following called WTFGang which stands for "We're The Future". As an independent artist Futuristic takes pride in his creativity and versatility using his words to inspire his fans and let them know that anything is truly possible but also gives them music to BANG with the top down in the summer and get them in the feels when they need something to vibe too. Moving forward he expects to be exactly what he named his lead single from his album.... "The Greatest".
In the Fall of 2015 Futuristic was featured on A Great Big World single "Hold Each Other" which led him to National television performances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, VH1 Streamy Awards, Performing for the Vice President Joe Biden & CEO of Apple Time Cook, for the HRC National Dinner in Washington D.C.
Shortly after that he released a joint album with artist/friend Devvon Terrell which sold over 30,000 copies and premiered in all categories of billboard for the first two weeks & also hit #2 on itunes, boosting an already prosperous career of his own.
In 2016 Futuristic hit the internet heavy with all sorts of viral content, a new project titled "As Seen on the Internet" & headlined his first ever solo World tour selling out shows from Seattle to Australia! This year expect more milestones, another full length studio album & crazy performances in a city near you.
There are two kinds of crazy in this world — crazy you stay away from and crazy that manifests itself as brilliance. Krizz Kaliko knows both ends of that extreme, whether by design or not.
Born Samuel William Christopher Watson, at age two — well before becoming musical co-conspirator to Midwest rap legend Tech N9ne — he developed vitiligo, a skin disorder that causes loss of pigmentation. His eyelids and lips are splotched white and he cuts an odd figure; in a crowd or alone, he’s impossible to miss.
“Growing up, kids would pick on me and kids would bully me,” he says. “They’d throw rocks at me and chase me home, because I looked different. It hurt. It changed me. Made me sad. But then, also, it made me do things to alleviate that sadness. I learned to sing. I learned to dance. I learned to rap. I was a fat little kid that didn’t look like anyone else — naturally, that became my biggest asset. Somehow, I became pretty popular.”
Kaliko was reared in the racially-diverse suburbs of South Kansas City, Missouri. His mother was a singer of local renowned gospel group; father, the superintendent of a Sunday school. He first stretched his vocal cords in the choir, and, had it been up to his parents (they divorced when he was just 4-years-old), he’d have gone on to a fine career as an attorney. After two years at Penn Valley Community College he quit school. Something else was tugging at his soul. Something from his youth.
“My stepfather used to whoop on me,” Krizz says, “He was fresh out of the pen, and he was a terrible dude. He was physically abusive and crazy, institutionalized crazy. Not only was he crazy, but also a criminal. He made his bones robbing banks and committing other serious crimes. For Kaliko, step-pops is an enduring source of much psychological pain.
“He terrified me” he says. “When people weren’t around and my mother wasn’t there, he’d abuse me. And nobody believed what I said. It was like I was the crazy one. I thought about killing him all the time, I’d think about it endlessly. Visualizing it, how I’d do it, I was that mad. I would get weapons from my friends — bats, knives, or whatever it would take. I thought: I will kill him in his sleep. And then miraculously the boogie man disappeared, he and my mother split up.”
Carrying his childhood scars, Kaliko spent his teens and early twenties drifting, not especially successful or unsuccessful at anything, he opted to not continue with college. He went on to hold a series of odd jobs. He was a grocery store clerk, corrections officer and even a customer service rep for VoiceStream (later to be known as T-Mobile) meanwhile, he quietly pursued music by rapping and singing, not hewing to any conventional standard for what it should sound like.
“I was just a fan,” he says. “And that allowed me to go in many different directions. I could identify with country songs, gospel songs, Christian rock songs, songs that were meant for dancing, commercial songs, non-commercial songs. I was and still am, a liberal thinker. I enjoyed everything, and through music I could do anything, be anything. Most importantly, I could be myself.”
One artist who appreciated Kaliko’s approach was rapper Tech N9ne. The pair met in 1999, through DJ Icy Roc, who once dated Kaliko’s sister. After paying Tech the whopping sum of $500 to feature on his solo album, the Strange Music co-founder discovered Kaliko’s diverse skill set. He asked him to appear on “Who You Came To See,” from his 2001 album, Anghellic, and then they began performing together locally. It lead to a years-long series of collaborations — Kaliko writing, producing, featuring on, touring with and generally being a musical wunderkind in the Strange Music family.
“It was like I was his musical muse, and he was mine,” says Kaliko. “We learned from each other. On stage, in the studio— nobody has believed in me, wanted more for me, wanted the entire world to hear and know and understand my talent, more than him.”
In 2007, Kaliko officially linked with Strange Music. Since then he’s released five albums, each one more confessional, more expressively oddball than the previous. Songs in his oeuvre include: “Bipolar,” “Misunderstood,” “Freaks,” “Rejections,” and “Scars,” as well as appearing on many others, endearing him to society’s misfits. In recent years, he’s also become more clear-headed about who he is and what he wants to do musically.
“For years I rapped and rapped well,” he says. “The fans enjoyed it, I enjoyed it. I made some good music, but it was time to try some new things.”
That much is clear from his new album, Go, where he ditches rapping almost completely. Instead he commands listeners to the dance floor, belts out melodies, softly croons, plaintively coos while generally seeming to enjoy himself more than he ever has before. Yes, nearly a decade into his career, Krizz Kaliko is rebranding, rebirthing — or as he’d say, returning to his roots — as a full-fledged singer. Pop, rock, R&B, trap, funk, no genre is off limits, no scale unsung.
“I just wanted to make timeless music, songs that could play twenty years from now,” he explains. “Go is a roller coaster ride. It starts out as dance, but then there are other parts where one might listen on a pair of headphones, because it’s very meaningful. Other songs you might turn up in your car. Through it all, I’m speaking from the heart.”
The album is chock full of earworms, songs both aesthetically-appeasing, yet also immediately captivating and catchy. Case in point: the brooding “Stop The World;” folky anti-depression ode, “Happy-ish;” or the shout-along “Didn’t Wanna Wake You.” Not completely abandoning hip-hop, songs like “More,” featuring labelmate Stevie Stone, and “Orangutan” — with Strange Music all-stars Tech N9ne, Rittz, Ces Cru, JL, and Wrekonize — invoke the crew’s knowing, trusty Midwestern flavor. Mostly though, Go is a new sound; all frenetic, inspired energy. It’s the biggest, broadest, most accessible project Krizz Kaliko has ever made.
“The truth is I’m an unlikely guy to be a pop star,” he says. “Look at me— I’m a big dude, I have vitiligo, I get anxiety attacks, and I’m bipolar. But Top 40 radio and a global audience, that’s what this music is worthy of. I’ve always been an unlikely dude to do anything, whether it’s music, working with Tech N9ne or even being alive. Frankly, the odds being against me, that’s good, I like that. I have trust that the music will ultimately reign supreme.”