Whenever I consider Missouri rapper Tech N9ne, I’m always reminded of Tupac. Not just because they’d developed a relationship via the Wake Up Show or because Tech seems to compulsively name drop Pac to prove his legitimacy to the uninitiated, but for stylistic reasons as well. Since breaking off with the major labels and forming Strange Music, Tech has always found room to show off his protégés, who, in turn, make him look like a nearly flawless veteran. And like Pac, Tech has always tried to balance his gangster proclamations with something a little softer. Where Pac wrote “Letter 2 My Unborn Child” Tech has “The Rain,” a song featuring a phone call from two of his daughters. Tupac was involved in some of the greatest party songs ever (please see: “California Love” and “2 of America’s Most Wanted”) and Tech tries earnestly to replicate the feat with tracks like “Caribou Lou” and “It’s What You Thinking,” though it seems like he falls short of his goal with the latter. One of Tech’s stated goals is to make the ladies dance with his party songs, but his dance beats all seem targeted towards the same motion, as if Tech hasn’t figured out that repetition isn’t the spice of life.
Like Tupac, Tech has a tendency to release bloated albums. Everready clocks in at 75 minutes without considering the bonus disk (a Strange Music label sampler that is certainly worth a spin or two). Tech once said that he uses everything he records, and, unfortunately, as long as he keeps doing so, he’s going to remain off the mainstream radar simply because he’s too unfocused at twenty tracks. For example, “Welcome to the Midwest” presents Tech’s rapid flow glorifying Midwestern gangsters as more than music over a crooning sample that sounds lifted from an Italian mob restaurant. The track is entertaining enough, and actually earned several repeat listens from me, but doesn’t advance either of Tech’s party or criminal personas and never seems to fit in with the rest of the tracks. At the same time, Tech’s hyphy song, “Jellysickle” featuring E-40, falters because Tech seems restrained by the more languid pace of the beat and the nuances not regularly explored in Tech’s records. It’s nice to hear him continue to challenge himself, but Tech sounds more like a hanger on than the institution he's declared himself in the past.
Tecca Nina’s best material seems to be his unapologetic manifesto moments – the title track of Absolute Power, and Everready's “Riot Maker,” and “This is Me.” The latter succinctly introduces Tech to the listener: “In the world of BET, I’m looked at as too Rock and Roll. In the world of MTV, my name is too gangster.” His confessional bemoans the lack of mainstream love for his music without sounding petulant – “Tecca Nina will blast arenas, the grass is greener.” “This Is Me” drops names at breakneck pace (though the track contains some of Tech’s slower flows) while setting Tech apart from the mainstream – “I love 50 Cent he’s gritty when he vent but I’m rough.” In a similar vein, “Riot Maker” is a straight forward doctoral thesis that posits only one thing: when you attend a Tech N9ne show, people will mosh and probably fuck things up. Appropriately, the rock guitars undercutting the track seem designed to rev a crowd but also mesh seamlessly with the conventional rap bassline.
Unlike the anthology Vintage Tech or his last studio record, Absolute Power, Everready feels more like business Tech. Throughout the record, Tech repeatedly shows that the music industry is changing him. Even so, Everready proclaims a lust for living, a passion for rap, and basically tells you to fuck off if you don’t feel his music.
Release date: Nov 7, 2006
Label: Strange Music
Rating: 6.2 / 10
On the web: http://www.therealtechn9ne.com/
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