Tech N9ne Returns To Strangeland [Editorial]
A star fell. It fell from the heavens above and crashed into the Earth, only to be buried six feet under six feet. Over a period of time, the dirt could no longer hold the star and with even more time, the cosmos could not hold it either.
Shooting up a vertical path, it rose to meet with other stars and eventually passed them up to reach what could only be referred to as God status. Enchanting would be the best way to describe such a story, but as magical as it all sounds, the story is very real. Tech N9ne’s rise to fame in 2011 was not an accident, it was planned from the beginning. Tech’s various disappointments in the industry forced him to remain buried and build from the ground up. A decade of recording and endless touring resulted in the all too real world of Strange Music. The independent label houses Tech N9ne’s world, which has come to be known as Strangeland. This world exists in both a literal and figurative sense. In Kansas City, MO, the Strange Music compound stands as physical proof of the world Tech N9ne has created. Around the world, fans live by Tech N9ne’s music, creating a bond that has expanded further than anyone expected. This bond and shared love for all things Strange is the very foundation for Strangeland. While the rest of the music industry struggles to stay alive, Tech N9ne survives within the walls of Strangeland, the world he imagined for his fans. It may not have always been called Strangeland, but the realm that Tech N9ne has thrived on for so long is now opening its doors to the world. As the newcomers gawk at the madness inside, many wonder, just how did this all come to be? For that, we invite you to return to Strangeland.
Welcome To Strangeland is the latest release in Tech N9ne’s Collabos series. While it follows the basic collaboration formula, the album took things into a new and exciting direction. Coming off the success of All 6’s And 7’s, Tech N9ne knew that his once exclusive world was about to break down barriers. On All 6’s And 7’s, Tech N9ne received a wake up call – “You’re in Strangeland.“ The voice spoke with warmth in those words, welcoming Tech N9ne to a happy home of sorts. The album that took the independent king to #4 on Billboard also brought a mass of new visitors to Strangeland. Feeling the eyes of the world on his land, Tech N9ne took the magic behind Strangeland and envisioned an album that would string together every piece of Strange Music:
“Well…I wanted to connect everything because this is my world. This is Strangeland. I say “Welcome To Strangeland”. I want people to know what’s in it so I created a path. This path is not horizontal, this path is vertical, it goes up, you know what I’m sizzling? We’ve been shooting for the stars ever since we started this shit so why wouldn’t it go up? That’s where we’re going–to the top baby, wherever that may be. I don’t know if there’s an end at the top. I don’t know if there’s a pinnacle. I don’t know if there’s a hilt. I don’t know, but we’re going, and we’re shooting for the stars and we’re right here with the stars right now.”
With a path mapped out, Tech prepared to lead his team higher than ever before. The entire Strange Music roster was enlisted to join Tech N9ne on his journey above the stars. Explaining his vision, Tech expressed his excitement:
“On this album I wanted to create this vertical path that I’m on. On this vertical path I meet CES Cru because they’re on the same path. I meet Jay Rock, Kutt Calhoun, Krizz Kaliko because they’re on the same path. I meet ¡Mayday!, Young Bleed, Stevie Stone, Brotha Lynch, and Prozak because they’re on the same path. This is within Strangeland as of right now. When I was doing it I told the wife I was like “When you hear it, it’s kind of on some Dr. Suess shit.” And she said “Don’t tell anybody that!” (Laughs) I was like “It’s either going to be super-corny or genius,” and when I did it, it turned out genius! It was hard to do but I did it in a timely fashion. No one knew what I was doing. I didn’t let anybody know because I was feeling that it might be corny but…it’s not fucking corny.”
A concept album is difficult enough to execute, but one that would bring every song together sounded like an impossible feat. Still, Tech N9ne intended on piecing everything together into a seamless tale of success, regret, lust, and eventual rise to victory. While All 6’s And 7’s showcased the visitors inside Strangeland, this album would display its many citizens: Prozak, Ces Cru, Brotha Lynch Hung, Young Bleed, Stevie Stone, Krizz Kaliko, Kutt Calhoun, Mayday, and Liz Suwandi. On “Welcome To Strangeland”, Tech N9ne and Krizz Kaliko invite listeners to take the journey with them. Not long after, Tech N9ne realizes his place in the industry and questions, “Who Do I Catch Now?” Listening to Welcome To Strangeland is quite the experience. Unlike past Tech N9ne albums, listeners are taken through an imaginative narrative that pulls from reality. The album was nothing more than a final call to the outside world – this is what I’ve built, come and take a look, won’t you?
“The mission statement is: ‘This is the world I’ve created and these are all the talented motherfuckers that are within it. Look what’s coming in hip hop. That’s what it is. All this talent I have right here within my empire. Look at what’s coming! Liz Suwandi is coming. CES Cru is coming. All these niggas are coming! They say Tech N9ne is opening the doors well look what’s coming behind him! Kutt Calhoun, Krizz Kaliko, Stevie Stone, ¡Mayday!, CES Cru, Brotha Lynch Hung, Prozak, Young Bleed, Jay Rock–all these motherfuckers are dope!’”
The “Promiseland” came and went. The celebration was short lived, but only because there was little time to waste before taking the next step. Welcome To Strangeland is that next step. What lies beyond is unknown, but the road there has been paved with the sacrifices made by Tech N9ne and Strange Music. The vision of Strangeland may be lost on some, but to those who have been there since the beginning, it’s all too familiar. The album is more than just music, it’s an interpretation of the past, present, and future. Seemingly at war with the world, Tech N9ne is unleashing an emcee assault and whether it’s from his throne inside Strangeland or at the top of independent hip hop, he invites you to witness it. We’ve landed. This is Strangeland, accept no imitations.
Click here to purchase Welcome To Strangeland.
-Victor Sandoval, Assistant Editor Strange Music
Follow Victor on Twitter: @VicMSandoval