There’s always something special about known names who come to Maui, a place that isn’t known for its incredibly active nightlife. It’s usually those artists with niche art and devoted fans that make the trek to our outer island. Tech N9ne is one such artist.
On Tuesday Sept. 18, rapper Tech N9ne is coming to Mulligans on the Blue. Along with Krizz Kaliko, Tech N9ne will take to the stage with his unique repertoire in a concert that will be a treat for his fans.
Acknowledged as one of the top independent hip-hop artists worldwide, Tech N9ne has a diverse range that’s led to collaborations with leading artists across the genres. The rapper has garnered both critical acclaim and cult fandom, and achieved both underground and commercial success.
With three gold albums and a prolific body of work, the rapper has an intense style and gritty themes, and is known for his dynamic speed and creative rhyme structure. During his decades-long career, Tech N9ne is a master rapper who can hang with the metalheads, punks, and everyone else.
Absolute Power, Tech N9ne’s classic album, was one of the soundtracks of my teenage years. I tried not to fangirl out too hard as we talked about his diverse style, how his mom inspired his love of horror, and his superpower.
Lantana Hoke: Tech N9ne or Aaron?
Tech N9ne: Everyone calls me Tech. Nobody calls me Aaron unless they went to school with me.
LH: It’s great to talk to you, Tech. Why did you choose to come to Maui?
Tech: I’ve been trying to get to Hawai‘i for years. I was finally able to do Honolulu about two years ago, finally, after all these years, because they said I was a riot maker, all these promoters, but they had no idea that my fans love each other. The music is just so wild, they thought Tech was a riot maker; that’s why I wrote the song “Riot Maker” in 2006. People wouldn’t book me in Hawai‘i! But now I’m coming to Maui. It’s spreading. That’s what I’m here for; I’m here to spread music to those that love us. I can’t wait to get down to Maui.
LH: What do you do for fun when you’re here?
Tech: When I did that show in Honolulu, I had such a good time that I booked my vacation for that following Christmas and New Year’s Eve down there. I came to the Aulani Disney Resort with my children and we stayed for 15 days. We had people take us to North Shore, show us burial grounds, it was wonderful.
LH: You put out a lot of material. Where does your work ethic come from?
Tech: Life is my motivation and inspiration. I live my life and I write my life. As it climbs and gets higher, stays stagnant and grows, I live and write it. I come from a dramatic past so I have a lot of stories from those years, but I’m better now, and I’m brighter now, so I’m writing that. And I’m still partying in the midst of all of it. As long as I’m living, then I can write it.
LH: You’re known to be versatile and experiment with different genres. Can you talk about your phases and styles over the years?
Tech: I’ve always been into rock ’n’ roll and metal, so if you pour through my work you hear me on songs with Serj Tankian of System of a Down, Corey Taylor from Slipknot, with Deftones, with the Doors, with Five Finger Death Punch. I have jazz, even gospel music makes it way into our work because Krizz Kaliko and I were church babies, so you hear the choir come through from time to time. There’s a lot of different styles of music; R&B is in there. We’re just a clusterfuck of genres and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
LH: What should we expect at your show?
Tech: This show is so action-packed and the crowd is involved from beginning to end. It’s such a weird energy – not in a bad way though – it’s got so many songs that people know, and I had no idea when I was putting the show together, I was just putting together a setlist that I liked. I thought I should bring back some old songs, and new songs up in there with it, but I actually put together a really energetic show and it does not stop. It’s really energetic, and it’s really lit, as people would say lately. It’s lit the hell up. Me and Krizz, we don’t have too many times to rest. From beginning to end, baby, it’s really wild. If you make it to the show, and I hope you do, there’s a really metal-punk intro called “Anti” that I come out to.
LH: Your heavy metal influences make me think of some of the darker themes in your music. Where did that come from?
Tech: My mother! (laughs). My mother was a devout Christian. I wrote a song about it – I say something to the effect of, I was born in ‘71, I saw Carrie in ‘76. When I was younger, like five-ish, my mom took me to that movie and it scared the shit out of me. Then, two years later, in ‘78, she took me to go see Halloween, and that touched me in a way that stuck with me for the rest of my life. I became the Michael Myers of rap. You know what I mean? Lyrically; a lyrical killer. My mom took me to haunted houses. That Christian lady put the darkness on me, and I love her for it. I lost her in 2014, but she’s with me everywhere I go. That’s where those dark undertones, or overtones, whatever they are, that feeling comes from. Halloween is my favorite holiday. I’m from Kansas City, the Bible Belt; everything about the Bible is dark. The Holy Ghost, Revelations is the spookiest story.
LH: You tour a lot; do you like touring?
Tech: I do, it’s my habitat. I love touring. My favorite part of touring is walking out on stage and all those people are smiling. They’re smiling at me! No matter how grim I look, they’re not scared, they smile, and that comforts me. And I’m smiling behind the mike, so I’m doing these dark songs like “Straight Out the Gate” and “You’re Lying,” but I’m smiling. When you can be a person who can walk in the room and make everyone smile, that’s a superpower.
LH: What do you want Maui residents to know about you?
Tech: That I’m trying to party. If you’re not coming to party, don’t come. It’s going to be an hour-and-a-half-long party. In this show, everybody is involved. Come to be involved in the show. It’s going to be a really nice Stranger Things party; it’s Tech N9ne, we’ve been here for over three decades, we’re still here. And better than ever.
LH: What’s your beverage of choice?
Tech: Tito’s vodka and tonic with lime. Double shot.
Tech N9ne plays Mulligans on the Blue on September 18. Doors open at 7pm. Tickets available at Bounty Music, Mulligans, and online at Eventbrite.c
Photos courtesy of Facebook/TechN9ne