F.T.I. : An Open Letter To The Fans [Editorial]
Contemplating over how to speak out on this matter, I have decided to insert myself directly into a blog entry for the first time since I first joined the team. Like most of you, I consider myself a loyal Tech N9ne fan. I have been listening to the red haired menace since I was a sophomore in high school, which was sometime after the release of Absolute Power. During this period, Tech’s career was gaining some real momentum following the struggles he had faced in releasing Anghellic. Tech had conceived an idea that, at the time, was pretty revolutionary. Facing rejection from radio and television, Tech came up with the F.T.I. movement. What exactly was F.T.I.? The abbreviation stood for Fuck The Industry, but it meant so much more than that.
The idea behind F.T.I. was to spit in the face of record label executives everywhere. Taking the biggest financial risk of his career, Tech N9ne offered his full length album Absolute Power for free download. No catch, no hidden agenda, just a free download. Twenty tracks for free download. The idea sounded insane. How could you just give away an album that you spent so much money making? Tech knew what he was doing. In conjunction with F.T.I., he offered the album for free and boldly declared that he would still move units. Even if radio didn’t believe in his music, Tech knew he had a quality product to offer. So, with a promotional push that included commercials on MTV and an internet campaign, F.T.I. was up and moving. “Fuck The Industry” Tech would declare during his live performances. Such a movement was capable of backfiring on many artists, but not Tech. In a stunning result, not only did Absolute Power do strong numbers, but sales actually jumped after people were offered the free download. Yes, you read that right, people downloaded the album for free AND purchased a copy. I know that must be unheard of to most people considering the download age we live in. The red-haired pain in the ass has just defied the entire record industry and proven that good music will sell no matter what.
This brings me to F.T.I. and what it means. I can’t help but notice so many of you attacking blog posts and even Tech’s personal tweets for his choices on collaborations lately. There are a lot of “sellout” and “hypocrite” comments being thrown around. I sit back and read these, and wonder where the backlash is coming from. I once wrote an editorial on here titled “Our Dirty Secret” regarding how the fans felt about Tech’s sudden exposure. At the time I believed that it was an issue of your favorite rapper becoming overexposed. This though, is a different monster altogether. Tech is now being accused of taking back his stance on F.T.I., and practically being crucified for working with people like Lil Wayne. So, as many of you throw these comments out and bash Tech for not sticking to F.T.I., let me take a moment to explain just how wrong you are. What is F.T.I.? Fuck The Industry. Note how nowhere in there it says “Fuck Mainstream”. It couldn’t possibly say that because then it would read something like F.M.F.T.I., and that’s just not catchy or easy to put on a t-shirt. Jokes aside, I think for all of your F.T.I. beliefs, it’s bewildering to see that some of you don’t even realize what it means. Tech has never been anti-mainstream. Not once. Tech has wanted big success since the beginning of his career. I had the distinct pleasure to interview Tech in 2006, just hours before the release of Everready. In those two hours that we spoke, I was given a candid look at a humble and down to earth man who only wanted one thing: the world to hear Tech N9ne. “Infection..infecting the world”, he said to me.
Those who point their finger at Tech like to conveniently forget that when F.T.I. began, Tech N9ne and Strange were struggling and battling with radio, television, and major label executives. None of these people in power wanted to give Tech N9ne the time of day. That is where Fuck The Industry was born. A big “Fuck You” to the suits who sit in their offices all day and think they know what people want to hear. All of those old rich white men who think they know what urban culture is and isn’t. These are the people Tech was after. The radio station program directors, the execs at MTV, and the heads of major labels. All of these people control what will become popular and what doesn’t. One thing they didn’t count on was Tech N9ne’s drive. They say the cream rises to the top. Well, without the radio and TV, Tech N9ne has reached the top. It took over a decade with Strange Music, but Tech is officially at the height of his career. With F.T.I., Tech stuck one big middle finger out at the industry. With his success in 2011, Tech raises another middle finger towards them. As Tech collabs with Lil Wayne, Busta Rhymes, and other big names, remember that he did it all on his own. No major label, no TV, and no radio play. Tech stuck to his beliefs and never once contradicted himself. So then, why all the negativity? I’m really not sure. It seems like a lot of you just don’t like mainstream artists. Which, in all honesty, is fair enough. That doesn’t although excuse all of the hate being thrown Tech’s way. The term “sellout” is not even applicable in this case. Selling out records and concerts maybe, but not selling out his artistic integrity. When Tech N9ne does a song with Lil Wayne and T-Pain, and calls it “Fuck Food”, can we really accuse him of selling out? How many radio stations do you think will even play a song called “Fuck Food”? Instead of recording a marketable club banger for radio, Tech opted for real music that he believes in. Remember, Fuck The Industry is not the same thing as Fuck Mainstream. Mainstream is just another word for popular. Can Tech really help it if his music is good enough to be that popular?
In addressing the issue, I hope I have opened your eyes a bit. To the Tech fans who continue to support him and believe in him, the best is yet to come. Just like the rest of you, I get to sit back and enjoy the ride. Tech N9ne’s biggest album is about to hit, and I couldn’t be anymore excited. F.T.I. is more alive now than ever. To those who I haven’t able to convince otherwise, get off your high horse. Get off your hiiigh horse, yea.
Strange Music Blogs Contributor
Follow Victor Sandoval on Twitter @VicMSandoval