Tech N9ne Electrifies on ‘The Storm’
Underrated and underappreciated Midwest rapper Tech N9ne electrifies on his latest album, ‘The Storm.’
Underrated, but he shouldn’t be. Midwest rapper Tech N9ne is a beast when it comes to rapping, crafting music that packs a mighty punch. Despite being on the grind for more than 20 years, he remains underappreciated. On his follow up to debut The Calm Before the Storm, appropriately titled The Storm, he raps about being underrated and mischaracterized. The Storm is divided into three distinct parts: Kingdom, Clown Town, and G. Zone. The results are superb.
Tech N9ne kicks off The Storm in electrifying fashion with “Godspeed.” He laments his so-so album sales throughout its course. One notable moment where this occurs is as he raps:
“This music is gleamin’, but because of all the streamin’ will never reach cake…”
Even with the cards stacked against him, he flexes, with fast-paced rhymes and a killer hook.
He is unapologetic on “Need Jesus,” assisted by Stevie Stone and JL. Naturally, given the title, Tech N9ne discusses the perceptions of others in regards to his faith. In different contexts throughout The Storm, the rapper rhymes about others’ opinions on him.
Speed rap is at its best on hard-hitting banger “Sriracha.” Logic and Joyner Lucas provide an extra lift to Tech N9ne, who’s on autopilot. In addition to sensational rhymes, the production is exceptional – dark and malicious, anchored by slick drum programming. The hook is spot-on:
“They say I’m the best at what I do / after me it’s 5, 4, 3, and 2 / sometime I think they all gum bumpin’ / so I tell them all to put that on somethin’ / Sriracha, I put that on everything.”
Hard rhymes and hard beats continue to dominate on “Wifi (Weefee),” which is preceded by an interlude explaining its title. While Tech N9ne remains authentic and serious, there is humorous aspect about the song. “Erbody But Me” featuring Bizzy and Krizz Kaliko gives Nino another banger. Interestingly, the sound is similar to a DJ Mustard production (Mustard isn’t the producer for the record). “Get Off Me,” featuring Problem and Darrein Safron concludes the Kingdom portion of The Storm with another bang…er.
The second section of The Storm is titled Clown Town. It kicks off with the jazzy “I Get It Now,” once more featuring Nino’s partner in crime, Krizz Kaliko. “I Get It Now” is ambitious…eccentric. Essentially, Tech N9ne raps about his unique personality, both as a person and as a musician. Among his best lines is:
“Yes, I’ve become a big boss / but I’ll never be cool as Rick Ross / That’s okay, N9ne’s been rhyming / and now he’s shining / perfect timing.”
“Hold on Me”
Moodiness continues to prevail on “Hold on Me,” featuring Kate Rose. One of the interesting musical features is the use of flute and saxophone (Steven Lambert). Rose sounds terrific on the hook, while the song itself is one of the better moments of The Storm.
The foreboding “Starting to Turn” finds Nino delving into metal, with the help of Jonathan Davis. Left of center, jagged, and hellish, “Starting to Turn” finds Tech N9ne in full-on eclectic, beast mode. Even in his forties, he refuses to be pigeonholed stylistically. “Poisoning the Well” caps off Clown Town. Indeed, there is “something strange in the agua.”
Let the bangers bang – we’ve entered the G. Zone. “Buss Serves” initiates, giving zero fucks. Big Scoob and Young Devi D serve as the latest guests, only strengthening the joint. Young Devi D says it best on the third verse: “I got my mind on my money, money on my mind.” Follow-up “Buddha” contrasts, trading brash for slow and smooth. Nino gets a lift from Boyz II Men and Adrian Truth. As successful as “Buddha” is, particularly in vibe, an indisputable juggernaut follows.
“No Gun Control”
“No Gun Control,” featuring Gary Clark Jr. and Krizz Kaliko, is among the crème de la crème of The Storm. Tech N9ne is full of fire, expressing something of a conflicting message with the hot-button issue of gun control. In one since, he’s pro second amendment – arguably vigilante – in respect to guns. Yet in another sense, evidenced by the Clark Jr. hook, he’s suggests gun violence is out of control. Speaking of the hook – glorious considering its distorted, gritty sound – Clark Jr. lends his virtuosic guitar skills.
Krizz Kaliko remains aboard on “What if it Was Me.” Tech N9ne spends his verse rapping about his musical history, starting in a group, the demise of the group, and becoming a solo artist. Krizz Kaliko goes a different direction, diving into police brutality and the unjustified shooting of some black men.
On “Anywhere,” featuring Marsha Ambrosius, Nino takes issue with his level of fame and success. This is highlighted especially well on the second verse:
“Listen / they don’t love you no more / they discover your flow / but I’m feeling my fans trying to shudder don’t slow / leaving the clown now I’m nothing but a bozo to ‘em / give my all in my sessions / Inever thought I would fall in regression.”
“The Needle” – once more featuring Krizz Kaliko – closes the standard edition magnificently. Tech N9ne continues with his melancholy, expressing disappointment that he hasn’t moved the needle more in regards to mainstream success. This sentiment is thematically important to The Storm, but is best exemplified here. Kaliko sings terrifically on the hook – it’s chilling.
All in all, Tech N9ne delivers another exceptional rap album with The Storm. Listening to The Storm, one has to wonder, why is this dude so underrated? Without a doubt, The Storm is among the crème de la crème of rap in 2016. For hip-hop fans, this is a fantastic Christmas gift.
Gems: “Godspeed,” “Sriracha,” “Get Off Me,” “Buss Serves,” “No Gun Control” & “The Needle”