Tech N9ne christened Aaron Dontez Yates in Kansas City, Missouri, learned to read and do math by rapping. A fascination with horror and ghosts offered an alluringly dark form of escapism. He launched his journey in the underworld of horrorcore, seemingly bound for obscurity. He went on to become an indie rap icon. He turned his Strange Music label into a Psychopathic Records-styled empire because of collaborations with mainstream artists and a style that progressed from horrorcore to hardcore eclipsed underground trailblazers like Insane Clown Posse. In the early 2010s, he released four Top Five albums: All 6’s and 7’s, Something Else, Strangeulation, and Special Effects.
He created a large and devoted fan base with minimal aid from the mainstream. A member of groups like Black Mafia, 57th Street Rogue Dog Villians, Nnutthowze, and the Yukmouth project, the Regime brought these qualities to his work. In 2020 he launched his 20th album on his label Strange Music Inc. In an interview with Billboard.com, he said, “My love for music is infinite,” he reveals. “But on the real side of things, life is happening.” He cites past issues with the IRS and his recently finalized divorce settlement as examples of how “life keeps happening” all around him, fueling this intense drive.” He grew up in a family that discouraged him from rapping, only collaborating with artists like Eminem, Andre 3000, Lil Wayne, Ice Cube, and Kendrick Lamar. He’s not finished with what he calls his bucket list of collaborators, including Outkast. The journey from childhood to career has been fascinating. These are ten facts you might not know about him.
1. Raised By His Grandmother
He was raised by his grandma Maude Sue Yates-Khalifah. She played the piano. However, her style was more religious.Undoubtedly, his gift is hereditary despite the vast difference in style. His childhood home was strict and religious. Besides no rap music, there was no liquor or parties.
2. His Mother Had Health Issues
His mother’s epilepsy and lupus bothered Tech N9ne. It was a source of anger and resentment throughout his entire childhood. Because of these feelings, he began to search for God. Although he didn’t know what he was looking for, he found his version exploring abandoned buildings with his best friend. His wish was to film a ghost.
3. He Began Rapping Early
He couldn’t hide his passion for rap despite the extreme prejudice of the genre. He started rapping early in life with t the letters of his name to memorize them easier.
4. He Hid His Music
His formal rap introduction was when his Uncle gave him a record named Rap Dirty by Blowfly. He hid the record and others by Soulsonic Force, NWA, Public Enemy, and others in a friend’s basement, so they were not discovered.
5. He Has Always Done Things His Own Way
He told his fans to download Absolute Power for free, increasing listeners. This is a trend that has followed him throughout his career. He has never shied away from doing things differently and pushing the boundaries of music and life.
6. He’s Got a Nickname
Tech N9ne is a nickname given to him by Black Wall, a contemporary. He compared his rap style to the Intratec Tec-9. It is one of many nicknames he has adopted throughout his career.
7. He Beatboxes
While in school, he beatboxed other people. He was asked to start rapping himself. He was shy, so after he wrote a song, he gave it to someone else to sing. He felt they never performed it correctly, so he decided to rap. These was the early roots of his career.
8. He’s a Contest Winner
In 1989 he won a rap contest. The prize was opening for EPMD. The night of the concert at Kemper Arena, his hobby became a career. Even though the concert fell on the same day as his graduation he chose to perform. That night cemented the path for his career.
9. He Almost Died
He had a near-death experience in 2005. When he came back to the recording studio, his life-view changed. He began work on Everready [The Religion], one of his most experimental albums.
10. He Moved to LA
He moved to Los Angeles in 1993 with a group of artists that included Dynomack and Mark Hill. There, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis offered them their first recording contract. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, and devastated they return to Kansas City.
There are numerous facts that might be added to this list. One thing is clear, despite the fame he has never lost his strong family roots. Even though they didn’t support his ambitions, he has a house in Kansas City, using the struggles of his adolescence to fuel his lyrics. In Tech N9ne own words, “‘validation that what I started almost 16 years ago with Strange Music. I’m a big Doors fan: Strange Days, “People are Strange” I named my label Strange Music because I’m such a humongous Doors fan. It’s validation that this rock and rap thing we’ve been doing since we started it is now getting bigger and bigger now, because some of the biggest names in rock have been working with me, after all these years” Since the start of his career he has accomplished so much.
Because he’s so driven, he sets goals and exceeds them. He is even winning the battle of addiction. In an interview with KMBC News, he said, “I was trying to escape reality,” he said. “I was trying to be a new artist, and nobody got this crazy, strange person. It was discouraging. So that pill, and that piece of paper, acid, and shrooms, all that stuff put me in an altered state. I ain’t got to worry about nothing.” It was a fellow musician who finally got through to him. He refused to watch Tech N9ne kill himself with drugs and alcohol. As of 2019, he is still clean and sober. It was the same year his label celebrated twenty years. However, most of his music and the subsequent imagery is dark. He started off with simple roots. He never quit pursuing his passion, even at seemingly insurmountable odds. When he was told to stop by his family, he kept going because he knew music was what he was born to do.