Tech N9ne - Something Else

Posted August 1, 2013
Tags: Tech N9ne,

Underground heavyweight Tech N9ne has unleashed his latest studio album, Something Else. His first retail release since 2011 's Welcome to Strangeland, the LP is Tech's 13th full-length in total. Included among its 21 original tracks are Booth-approved singles "See Me," "So Dope" and "Fragile."

Throughout the album, the Kansas City native is joined by a variety of noteworthy collaborators, including B.o.B, Big K.R.I.T, Cee-Lo Green, Game, Kendrick Lamar, Krizz Kaliko, ¡MAYDAY!, Trae The Truth and Wiz Khalifa. Beats come courtesy of Drumma Boy, ¡MAYDAY!, Scoop Deville, Seven, Shane Eli, Youngfyre and more.

Something Else Album Review

Hip-hop has always rejected outsiders. From fans to label execs, hip-hop has largely demanded more of the same thing it’s currently enjoying: more shiny suits, more Auto-Tune, more molly. But the ironic thing is that all of the great rappers began as outsiders. Eminem was white back when being a white rapper was rare, and being a crazy white rapper was unheard of. Kanye West got told to stick to producing every day for years until College Dropout came out. Even Jay-Z, now the consummate insider, had to self-release his classic Reasonable Doubt at 27-years-old because every label in the country told him no. What all of them have in common is that although they started as outsiders, they were so undeniably dope they shifted hip-hop culture towards them. Suddenly, the same label execs who told Em, Ye and Jay they’d never make it were searching for the next Em, Ye and Jay.

While Tech N9ne’s not in that elite company, at least not yet, he’s closer than many give him credit for, and just got even closer to maybe, just maybe, shifting hip-hop’s balance with the release of his new album, Something Else. Beyond just the staggering diversity of guests, from Wiz Khalifa to The Doors and everyone in between, Tech uses Something Else to tackle a range of topics that, despite what many assume from the black boots and face paint, prove he’s unafraid to be an overtly positive rapper in an age that values money over everything, including humanity.

Make no mistake though, Something Else still gives fans plenty of chances to turn the volume up and lose their minds, starting with Love 2 Dislike Me, a cut that transcends the usually forced rock-rap blend and hits as hard as a cut can hit; imagine spitfire flows over a beat that sounds like it was done by Slipknot. And if you can’t imagine that, just listen to Dislike Me. Similarly, So Dope is a banger in the vein of Worldwide Choppers that’s an unapologetic exercise in double (and triple) time flow; this one is going to be a riotmaker at live shows.

But while it would have been easy for Tech to overpower listeners with fast rhymes and monstrous beats, on the whole Something Else is an intensely serious and sometimes even quiet album than isn’t afraid to tackle issues more rappers wouldn’t come near. Set over a haunting chain gang sample, I’m Not a Saint has to be one of the only songs in hip-hop history to truly delve into sexual abuse – it’s hard to overstate what a truly historic moment that is for rap. It’s a topic that Tech comes back to in the beginning of the inspiring Burn the World before moving into an investigation of the source of the spate of mass shootings and bombings that have inundated the country. And on a personal note, as a father I was moved by That’s My Kid, again, one of the only songs I’ve ever heard to truly delve into the joys and struggles of parenthood (Nas’ recent Daughters also comes to mind).

And really, a song like That’s My Kid says everything you need to know about this album. Tech has undeniably earned fans based off his extraordinarily precise rapping, he’s not the only talented rapper in the world. Where Tech, and by extension Something Else, truly stands apart is his willingness and ability to speak to people’s actual lives. Not their “real” lives as so many “real” rappers claim to do, but more powerfully their inner lives, the parts of themselves they don’t share with the world but hear reflected in Tech N9ne’s music. So yes, while lighter tracks like Dwamn and See Me may attract a more casual fan, it’s the intensity of music like Fragile that will transform a casual fan into a technician.

In fact, I’m so inspired by Tech’s fearless honesty that I’ll be fearlessly honest myself. Writers don’t like to admit it, but our jobs are inherently flawed. As I’ve written before, the only real way to judge if an album is a classic is to wait and see if it can truly stand the test of time. But if I were to write this review in a year, no one would want to read it. Readers demand reviews now, so instead I'm forced to digest an album as quickly as possible and project how I’ll feel about an album into the future. So will Something Else prove to be a classic? Honestly, I can’t say. But I will say that I already see there are concepts and layers to this album that will take me weeks, if not longer, to unravel, and that’s a far cry from the disposable music I’m flooded with every minute.

Who knows, maybe in a year all hip-hop will sound more like Something Else. Certain rappers, the true outsiders, are just so undeniably dope they shift hip-hop culture towards them. Tech N9ne is one of those rappers.

DJBooth Rating - 4.5 Spins

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Posted August 1, 2013
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