Not everyone out there is a Tech N9ne fan, or ever really knows who the Kansas City emcee is, so before we get rolling on his new album All 6’s & 7’s let’s take a moment to educate the latecomers. Put simply, Tech, or Aaron Dontez Yates as the IRS prefers to call him, is the most powerful independent artist in the country – and at a time when being signed to a major label is only a small step above sharecropping, you can make the case that he’s one of the most powerful artists …
DJBooth Album Review
That little introduction was more than an overview, it’s also essential to understanding 6’s & 7’s, his thirteenth studio album. While most casual fans will find the 24 track project overwhelming, Tech isn’t particularly interested in casual fans. He only wants loyal followers, and he’s engineered his music accordingly. If you don’t get it, fine, goodbye. But if you do, you’ll feel like you’re part of a select tribe. Crucially though, 6’s & 7’s, a title which, by the way, is purposefully confusing, is also attempting to bridge a gap between Tech and more mainstream rap fans by loading the project with high profile guests, all without losing his trademark dark sound. For the most part it’s a balancing act that works.
Rapping fast, even crazy fast, can only take you so far - the “wow” factor kind of loses its luster after the tenth time – but Tech can not only keep his spitfire flows interesting, he can do it alongside the industry’s best. Of course I’m talking about Worldwide Choppers. Alongside a host of more than capable but less known emcees Twista and Busta Rhymes put in work, Busta in particular loses his goddamn mind, and the result is the album’s one “oh s**t!” record, the song you tell your friends they have to hear. Less musically impressive but still notable is F**k Food, which brings on Lil Wayne and T-Pain (T-Wayne) for a song that, more than anything, is a sign of how far Tech’s come. I’m not sure even he saw getting megastars like Weezy on his albums in the early Anghellic days. In other feature news, while I’m personally most excited by the Deftones’ Chino Moreno on If I Could (although I wish Could had gone harder), a lot of fans of E-40 and Snoop (Pornographic), Kendrick Lamar (I Love Music) and B.o.B. (Psycho) who would otherwise passed 6’s & 7’s by will suddenly find themselves entering the world of Tech N9ne, and more than a couple of them will want to stay.
While these features will garner the headlines the majority of the album consists of either Tech going at it alone or with the help of some close associates, and its these tracks that will truly convert doubters to believers (if they’re at all open to conversion). Strangeland, a slowly winding joint that proves Tech can rhyme intricately even when the pace is slowed, also serves as a metaphor for his musical rise. And he may be following his agenda but even Tech isn’t above the requisite “I love my momma” track on Mama Nem while cuts like Cult Leader and Delusional address both his role as an artist, and leader of people, and the problems that still lurk under the surface, no matter how outwardly successful he may be. Its selections like these, which I have to say reminds of some of the Bone Thugs early, more personal work, that offer an outstretched hand to fans, and many will be only too happy to take it.
If this review seems somewhat ambiguous it’s because 6’s & 7’s is a hard album to deliver a final verdict. It’s an album that was made for a very specific group, everyone else be damned, and so while I honestly can’t say I’m a full fledged Techaholic, I do have to acknowledge that for many this album will be nothing short of epic. So whether or not you’ll be joining Tech on his continued ride into Strangeland you do have to respect what the man’s done. If everyone followed his lead hip-hop would be a lot better for it.
DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 06/6/11
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