Tech N9ne • Special Effects • Strange Music • US Release Date: May 4, 2015
Tech N9ne is one of a kind. Yep, this is a cliché characterization that could be used to describe almost any musician, but in the case of Tech N9ne, it’s true. He ranks among the most eclectic rappers in the game, with most of his eclecticism coming from being an underground presence as opposed to a commercial figure. As of late, Tech N9ne has naturally built a more faithful commercial fan base, hence why many of his albums have consistent debuted in the top echelon of the Billboard 200. N9ne’s latest effort Special Effects is no different – it landed at a familiar spot – number four on the albums chart.
Special Effects is a big album – ambitious in scope and overextended in regards to duration. Even if its 80-minute run is overlabored, Tech N9ne offers an album that is strong from start to finish. Given his stylistic restlessness, Tech N9ne incorporates a little bit of everything on Special Effects and by everything that includes classical music as well!
On “Aw Yeah? (Intervention)” Tech N9ne ‘goes off,’ literally. He says it best himself: “I’mma yell while I’m walking through this hell cause I’m furious.” The sentiment of “Aw Yeah? (Intervention)” is anger, finding the rapper struggling with the loss of his mother. This is confirmed on the exceptional “Lacrimosa,” which like the Mozart requiem movement that fuels it, is a memorial of sorts (“Zoned out cause my mother is gone…my duty go if I’m moody yo, get up and get the song out…”).
The classical influence of “Lacrimosa” is completely worn off by the ‘Sunday Evening’ portion of Special Effects led by “On The Bible,” which is unquestionable hardcore, street-based rap. “Bible” is used as a source of morality within the title and contextually, but ultimately, there is little sanctified about “On The Bible.” “Shroud,” another winner (featuring Krizz Kaliko), is eerily dark, as N9ne raps, “This is darkness accumulated / over the years and heartless buffoons that made it.” Things grow their most disturbed on “Psycho B**ch III” featuring Hopsin. Honestly, no explanation is needed: “You’re just a shady b**ch, on the daily on some crazy s**t / you don’t f**k around with a lady, it’ll be a blaze where your Mercedes sit.”
“Wither” is nothing short of epic. Featuring Corey Taylor of Slipknot, has rap dude ever rocked out harder? This is one of the better metal/rap combinations you will ever here as both artists feed off of each other’s energy. “Wither” is the final full-length closing out ‘Sunday Evening’ before “Hood Go Crazy” dominates the ‘Monday’ portion of Special Effects. The production work of “Hood Go Crazy” allures and hypnotizes the listener before N9ne further ‘blesses’ the standout with his blunt rhymes. He gets some help from B.o.B. and 2 Chainz. How does N9ne follow it up? – With a joint featuring Lil Wayne, Yo Gotti, and Big Scoop (“Bass Ackward”).
‘Tuesday’ features just one song, “No K” featuring E-40 and mainstay Krizz Kaliko. Arguably Wednesday’s joints stand out more, including the Eminem guest spot on “Speedom (WWC2)” and the malicious, haunting groove of “Yates” featuring Marcus Yates. Of course N9ne eats up the production and the competition, proclaiming, “Lately I’ve been like f**k rap… cause all these tough cats really don’t have no nutsacks / trust that ‘nough scratch does back much wackness / flush that s**t…” On ‘Thursday,’ one of the more ‘pop-oriented’ records appears via “A Certain Comfort” featuring Kate Rose.
The remainder of Special Effects is consistent without outperforming the very best. For example, “Life Sentences” is another solid showing, but could never supplant “Psycho B**ch III.” Similarly, the classical touches of “Dyin’ Flyin” are stunning, but not quite enough to usurp the valedictory “Lacrimosa.” Still, that choir at the end though coupled with those strings – gorgeous and chilling!
Ultimately, Strange Effects is another superb album from Tech N9ne. Is it perfect? – No, but its pros (including ambition) easily outweigh its cons (mostly length). Yes it’s too long, but at least Tech N9ne knows how to do an album up right and keeps his audience engaged. Truly, there is something for everybody to spin over and over. For yours truly, its “Lacrimosa” and “Hood Go Crazy.”
Favorites: “Aw Yeah? (Intervention),” “Lacrimosa,” “Shroud,” “Psycho B**ch III,” “Wither,” “Hood Go Crazy,” “Yates,” “A Certain Comfort.”