Knitting Factory & Live Nation Present
Tech N9ne: Strictly Strange 2017 Tour
Hip-hop ambitions are often described in terms of "hunger", but no known MC has an appetite quite like Brotha Lynch Hung. This is not simply the peckishness of a seasoned artist still making music while his former contemporaries have long passed their sell-by date. This is the ravenous hunger of Mannibalector, Brotha Lynch Hung’s flesh-chomping, gore-streaked altered ego and the antagonistic protagonist at the dark heart of Coathanga Strangla, the genuinely stunning new album by Brotha Lynch Hung.
Coathanga Strangla re-introduces listeners to the not so nice but strangely sympathetic guy they met on Lynch's 2010 album Dinner and a Movie. The "autocratic automatic reaper" instantly joined the entertainment biz pantheon of indelible killers like Mannibalector's cinematic predecessor, Silence Of The Lambs sicko Hannibal Lector. "I watch a lotta horror movies and I really love meat," says Lynch, "so I put that together and out came Mannibalector."
Longtime fans will, of course, recognize these deviant tendencies. Brotha Lynch Hung's 1993 debut, 24 Deep (Black Market Records) found his "human meat pot luck" already underway (who can forget the image: "find your brain cookin' in a barbecue pit"?). The 1995 release of the Sacramento (CA) native's certified Gold classic, Season of da Siccness, followed and Lynch has released a steady stream of music ever since, making him an ideal match for the do-or-die work ethic of his current label home, Strange Music.
Kansas City-based Strange Music is currently the most successful outfit in independent hip-hop and home to Tech N9ne. Dinner and a Movie was Lynch's first album released by Strange, but Tech N9ne and Brotha Lynch have history: Tech appeared on "187 On A Hook" from Lynch's Blocc Movement in 2001, and in 2006 Lynch delivered a standout verse on "My World" from Tech N9ne's Everready album. "Strange Music understands me, they've really given me a fresh start," says Lynch. "As strange as it sounds, I feel like I'm just getting going with my career."
Make no mistake however: what feels like a fresh start for Lynch is coinciding with a high point in his artistic evolution. Always one to look to movies for inspiration, Lynch says that repeated viewings of the Hostel films had a direct effect on Coathanga Strangla. "Some horror movies are too ridiculous," he says, "but Hostel has a very realistic feeling. It's not scary like boo! — it's more like this could happen. That's an authenticity I'm going for in my music."
It's that sense that gives Coathanga Strangla its compelling core. With its bowel-bothering bass line and toothpick percussion (courtesy of producer Michael “Seven” Summers), "Mannibalector" is a cannibal lecture (replete with requisite slaughter) the reveals the crucial facet of Lynch's artistry: his alter ego is not a two-dimensional creation but a character full of humanizing doubts, fears and paranoia. Allmusic.com's David Jeffries has noted Lynch's facility at going "from gross to scary to sympathetic and personal, and then back again, all without losing a step or trying your patience."
When it comes to digesting Lynch's art however, it helps that his raps are leavened by what can only be called "gallows humor." Who else would refer to his manner of cooking victims as "Operation McPasta", as Lynch does on the new album's "Mannibalector"? While Brotha Lynch Hung is often credited as the originator of the rap genre known as "horrorcore", most so-called horrorcore rappers would be content with a standard disemboweling; Lynch goes all the way, a meal plan immortalized on the new album's "Spit It Out" wherein Lynch chortles: "If anything taste funny spit it out."
"Friday Night" features Lynch's fellow rap madman C.O.S., thumping production by Michael “Seven” Summers, and Brotha Lynch's "body sweatin' like a Juggalo." "I love the Juggalos man," says Lynch of the cult-like, face-painted fans who have embraced him. "They're good people with good hearts who are looking for an outlet from life's pain. I can relate to that." Standout cut "Blinded By Desire" is a sadistic travelogue following Lynch as he drives from California's Bay Area southward towards Los Angeles ("524 miles to SoCal..." begins Lynch) where mayhem will undoubtedly ensue.
Coathanga Strangla is the middle album in a conceptual trilogy, which began with Dinner and a Movie and is slated to conclude with 2012's Mannibalector. Each of the three albums has spawned three videos, which together will comprise the visual document of the terrifying times of Mannibalector. "The three albums and nine videos are about a rapper who's having a bad life and is about to give up on the world," explains Brotha Lynch Hung. "You can hear he's about to walk the thin line, past the thin line, and then go way over it."
Join Brotha Lynch Hung as he continues to obliterate that line like no other artist can do.
It’s not every day a musical genius is born. With the release of his third solo CD, SHOCK TREATMENT, KRIZZ KALIKO convincingly claims that title. After working with Tech N9ne and Strange Music for 10 years, performing over 200 shows a year, KRIZZ KALIKO has earned a spot among Hip Hop’s elite. His solo debut, 2008’s Vitiligo, landed at No. 19 on the Billboard charts and he has been instrumental in Tech N9ne’s incredible success: In 2008, Tech N9ne SoundScanned over one million units, making him the most successful independent Hip Hop artist in history.
KRIZZ KALIKO is the sonic “glue” of Strange Music. “I’m Tech’s right hand man in writing,” he says. “It’s a weird, beautiful chemistry. Tech and Travis [O’Guin] handle the business, and Tech and I are the creative force at Strange Music. The yin and the yang. Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. Tech and I have the same philosophy about the quality of music. We’ve been working together so long I know where he wants to go.”
Born in Kansas City, MO., KRIZZ KALIKO was raised by a mom who spoon-fed him music. As an opera and gospel singer, as well as being the choir director of their church, his mother sang to him and, fortunately, made him sing with his sisters. He performed in the choir all throughout his early teens and his mom often treated the family to live concerts from artists like the Gap Band and Run-DMC. By the time KRIZZ KALIKO met Tech N9ne, he was already trying to figure out how to fuse opera and Hip Hop.
“Tech’s music is dark,” KRIZZ KALIKO explains. “It was the perfect vehicle.” When Tech N9ne landed back home in Kansas City after touring and found his longtime producer Icy Roc working with a new talented voice, Tech was intrigued. He liked what he heard and hired KRIZZ KALIKO to work with him on “Who You Came To See”, from his Anghellic album (2001). Tech was so impressed by KRIZZ KALIKO’s ability to craft catchy, album-ready songs, he asked him to collaborate on his next project, Absolute Power (2002).
As most fans already know, KRIZZ KALIKO offers a unique perspective on life that many can relate to. The husband and father of one was born with a skin disorder called Vitiligo, which he not only discusses openly in his music, but also used as the title of his debut CD.
“I want people to get that people who look differently can actually be the coolest dudes,” he relays. “To come from being a freak to this dude that I am here is a wonderful and interesting story and makes you want to listen to the music even more.”
It’s important to KRIZZ KALIKO that his lyrics are not all about hardship and pain. “I want people to be excited by me, come into my world,” he adds. “I want you to have a good time when you’re around me. You gotta want people to want to be around you, want to listen to your music, want to be interested in you.” Judging by his scores of fans, KRIZZ KALIKO’s extensive grassroots efforts and inclusive musical philosophies are working.
“The whole world doesn’t know who I am,” KRIZZ KALIKO explains, when asked what inspires him. “I need the whole world to party to my pain, party to my story, feel what I’m talking about. I want to be respected for years past my life. I want to be remembered way after I’m gone. I want to be a legend. That’s a lot to live up to. That’s what this album does.”
For Stevie Stone, the release of Rollin’ Stone, his debut album on Strange Music, signals a move beyond his past and his arrival with the premier independent rap company. “The album is all about progression,” he says. “It’s about my shift from Ruthless Records over to Strange Music. Everything about Strange is about getting out and touching the people. Everybody’s in tune with the music and with what I’m doing. I’ve got their undivided attention. They make sure they know and understand their artists.”
Stone backs his words up on the explosive, bass-heavy lead single “808 Bendin’,” which features a remarkable verse from Strange Music honcho, Tech N9ne. The two bonded early on regarding their mutual love for the 808 drum machine that was a signature of many classic rap songs created in the 1980s.
“I’m 808-driven,” Stone says. “I love that pulse, that backbone. Without pulse, there is no life. That’s what Tech is always saying. I heard the beat for ‘808 Bendin’,’ did the verse and the hook. I thought it was something way, way different for Tech.”
Stone keeps the energy at a fever pitch on the confrontational “Raw Talk”, featuring Hopsin and SwizZz, the menacing “Get Buck” and the stark “Keep My Name Out Your Mouth”, featuring Kutt Calhoun.
Elsewhere, Stone showcases his storytelling abilities on the tremendous “Dollar General.” Inspired by the 2007 film, Street Thief, Stone flows with a controlled fury about robbing a series of businesses. WillPower’s somber, piano-driven beat and the whispery chorus, delivered by Yelawolf, create a potent, otherworldly, sonic ambiance. “I put it like it was a dream,” Stone
explains. “I’m not saying that I’m the one that’s robbing. It’s almost like I’m watching the movie and fall asleep. It’s about my dream.”
Music has enabled Stone to live out his dreams and escape his problems. On the soulful “My Remedy,” he details how his problems fade away as soon as he hits the stage. Nonetheless, music has not provided a total escape. The wistful “2 Far” reveals how Stone’s love for music has created tremendous struggle in his relationship with his woman.
Then there’s the dramatic “My Life.” On this emotional cut, Stone details the challenges he’s created for himself and his family by pursuing his music career. Although the emotions were raw, the song took Stone nearly two years to write. “I was wrestling with how much I want to give to the people,” he says. “It’s revealing a lot of stuff. I’m talking about my being away from
my kids, my family and loved ones. I’d been writing it for a year or two because I had the beat for a minute, but I didn’t know how much I really wanted to put out there. I just let go and let the music take me.”
Music has taken Stone on the road. Given his love for touring, it makes Stone a natural fit on Strange Music, as one of the company’s key components is its touring enterprise. Add in Stone’s bond with Tech, his high quality music and his dedication to his craft and it’s no wonder Stone is the latest addition to the Strange Music roster. It’s also why Stone wrote the song “Perfect
“My first show ever, when I was in high school, was with Tech. Eleven years later, it comes full circle,” he says. “I’m on the label. It’s something that I’ve always wanted. I think I’m a perfect fit with them.”
Born and raised in Columbia, Missouri, Stone has been surrounded by music his entire life. His mother was a singer and choir director who played piano and organ. One of his sisters also sang and played instruments. While his mother favored gospel, blues and the work of Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross, his sisters listened to rap and R&B, providing a wide range of sounds, styles and artistic influences.
By the time he was five, music consumed Stone. When a beat would start playing, Stone would be instantly compelled to dance. He later started playing the piano and practicing on the drums.
Stone was simultaneously developing his basketball skills. He received an offer to play basketball at a junior college in Des Moines, Iowa, and was going to pursue the opportunity. A few weeks before he was slated to report to school, Stone landed a performance as an opening act at a concert at the Fulton Fairgrounds. “When I hit that stage, I got the bug,” he recalls. “There was no doubt about it. Music was what I was going to do. I’ve never turned
Within a few years, Stone secured a production deal in St. Louis with Fly Moves Productions, requiring he relocate from Columbia. Stone jumped at the opportunity. “You should never be content with where you’re at,” he says. “I’ve got the shoot-for-the-moon-end-up-in-the-stars type of attitude.”
Stone signed in 2007 with Ruthless Records, the label founded by the late gangster rap pioneer Eazy-E and the recording home of N.W.A. While signed to the imprint, he learned the work ethic needed in order to succeed in the music industry. He realized that an artist has to do as much as possible for themselves and not rely on a label.
So, when Stone parted ways with Ruthless a few years later, he was poised for success. He reconnected with Tech N9ne and Strange Music, which had developed into rap’s biggest independent success story.
Now, with Rollin’ Stone about to arrive in stores, Stevie Stone realizes that his climb to success isn’t over. “After every ladder, there’s another ladder. You’ve got to keep climbing the ladder, keep moving. That’s what I’m doing right now.”
Ces Cru comes up with a new acronym for each of its releases. But after feeling held somewhat captive by the title of 2013’s Constant Energy Struggles, Ubiquitous and Godemis felt creatively liberated when they settled on Codename: Ego Stripper as the title of its second Strange Music album.
“On Constant Energy Struggles, I felt like we were constantly defining what that meant from song to song,” Ubiquitous says. “On this one, we’re not spelling it out for you.”
“The thing that appealed to me about that name is that you couldn’t put a finger on exactly what that meant,” Godemis adds. “I felt like that was a good angle to come from in writing the music, with no preconceived ideas. I thought that it would open up our writing and draw people in.”
The Kansas City duo showcases this newfound latitude on the skeletal “Sound Bite.” Sans chorus, Ubiquitous and Godemis deliver stunningly intricate, braggadocio tag-team raps for three-and-a half minutes. “It really showcases our lyrical talent,” Godemis says of the Internet hit that has logged more than 70,000 YouTube views in about two weeks. “The beat’s kind of empty in a way to where your ear’s not taken away by a lot of other different things. The lack of a hook is suicide in a way, I guess, but it’s for another MC or a connoisseur of hip-hop.”
Ces Cru then flexes its sociopolitical muscles on the masterful “Axiom,” a meditation on everything from making a positive change in the world to the War on Drugs and the concept of freedom. In addition to the lyrical heft Ubiquitous and Godemis demonstrate, producer Michael “Seven” Summers adds stirring sonic layers throughout the song. “I really like the pianos that start popping up during Godemis’ verse,” Ubiquitous says. “The whole front half of the song feels different than the back half. By the end, you’re rocking out to the piano. It’s a beautiful, thoughtful piece.”
While “Axiom” explores stark subject matter, “Hope” celebrates the bliss of enjoying life. “It reinforces the philosophy from the last record about optimism and magnetism and envisioning what you’re trying to get for yourself, do for yourself,” Ubiquitous says of the cut, which also features ¡Mayday!’s Bernz. “It’s on some ‘Seven Chakras’ stuff as far as keeping a positive outlook on things regardless of whatever you’re up against.”
To this point, Ces Cru illustrates how it responds to stress on the soulful, laid-back “Pressure,” which also features Rittz. “Pressure implies a manic mind state, but the song is about what is pressure for us: chillin’,” Ubiquitous says. “I think a lot of rap these days is very turnt up, trap, high-energy rap with this fast lifestyle, glamour content. That’s very prevalent on radio and we made a chill record. That was on purpose. It’s not all about rapping your head off. It’s about chilling out, vibing out.”
The duo ratchets up the intensity on “Whips,” a concept cut about cars that features an impressive succession of sound effects. “You can kind of close your eyes and see everything that’s going on in the song,” Godemis “We took a lot of time to get it right so that it does sound like we’re on the highway with big rigs passing by and there is a helicopter in the air. It’s a lot of fun.”
Ces Cru keeps the sounds scintillating with “Que Lastima,” which features a hyper, boast-heavy verse from Angel Davanport. She was featured alongside Game and Tech N9ne on the latter’s “Priorities,” a cut from his 2013 album, Something Else. Ubiquitous was happy to feature the talented act on one of his group’s songs. “I kind of look at Angel Davenport as our secret weapon because she’s going to be virtually unknown to most people when they hear the record and I think that is a delight to the listener, to give them something fresh and new and good,” he says. “That’s what I wanted to do with Angel and her talent is maybe only 30 percent exposed on that track. She’s got a lot more tricks in her bag.”
Ditto for Ces Cru. The group formed in the early 2000s and became a duo after the release of its debut album, 2004’s Capture Enemy Soldiers. The pair appeared on a string of local releases before releasing its next album, 2009’s The Playground. Buoyed by such songs as the break-up anthem “DYT,” the chest-thumping “Float” and the politically-charged “Teeter,” The Playground impressed Strange Music co-owner Tech N9ne.
In 2010, Tech N9ne featured Ces Cru on his Bad Season mixtape and had Ubiquitous and Godemis open for him at Kansas City’s The Beaumont Club. The group then joined the Strange Music roster in 2011, released the 13 EP in 2012 and followed that up with 2013’s Constant Energy Struggles. The acclaimed collection features several singles whose videos have become viral hits: “When Worlds Collide” (more than 1.1 million YouTube views), “Seven Chakras” (more than 900,000 YouTube views) and “Juice” (more than 750,000 views) among them.
As it is wont to do, Ces Cru looks at its older material as it evaluates its new work. “When I think about our catalog and how it’s evolved, I feel like Constant Energy is a super-dope album, a very important album,” Ubiquitous says. “But, when I hear it, it sounds like we teamed up, cliqued up with some new guys – and we did. With that, I feel like the new album is back to us being us. We kind of took the reins back and it sounds more like our earlier work, more like Playground. We were very hands-on with this album to make sure that it sounded different than our last project.”
With that mission accomplished, Ces Cru shows with Codename: Ego Stripper its ability to refine, update and enhance its music while creating special material. “We want to make something that will last,” Ubiquitous says. “We don’t want to do something that has a hot single on it, nine throwaway tracks, a couple average ones and then just pump out a record 10 months later. I feel like all of our albums should be able to last a couple years. People still bump Playground and that came out in 2009. That’s a five-year-old album. That’s the standard.”