In the back of his tour bus, rapper Tech N9ne sits alone as the vehicle heads to Fort Collins, Colo., for the next stop on his Something Else Tour 2013.
Since the tour kicked off Sept. 5, he has performed nearly every night in a different city.
I don’t really know where I am, he says by phone Monday from the road. I have all the curtains closed, and I’m just sitting in the dark – I’m a vampire.
One glance at his tour schedule, and it’s halfway believable that he never sleeps. The Kansas City, Mo., native, whose rapid-fire hip-hop delivery seamlessly lays over a mix of heavy metal and traditional hip-hop, averages 200 days on tour per year.
His 2012 Hostile Takeover tour, which made a stop at IPFW, broke the record for the longest continuous tour in rap history with 90 shows in 99 days.
His new 50-city tour brings Tech N9ne back to IPFW on Sunday, and though his vision of the city is as blurred as the highway signs that pass outside his curtained window – he knows one thing for sure:
There is only one reason I would come back. There are fans there, and they miss me – that’s the only reason I would come back, he says. I can’t remember any activities I did in Fort Wayne, but I remember there were fans there, and they were smiling at me. If I have to judge from the last time I’ve been there, there are more fans waiting to see me. I have to service those people.
Aaron Tech N9ne Yates, 41, just may be the hardest-working man in show business.He first signed to Quincy Jones’ Qwest Record label in 1997 before breaking out on his own two years later.
According to Billboard, his independent record label, Strange Music, co-founded with partner Travis O’Guin, has released more albums this year than any other rap label.
Forbes magazine hailed Yates as one of Hip-Hop’s Cash Kings for the second year in a row. The magazine said he earned an estimated $7.5 million during the past year, making him of one of hip-hop’s top 20 money-makers.
It’s such a pain. I’m the type of guy that if I won the lottery, I don’t want anybody to know, he says, laughing. It makes all your ex-girlfriends call you, and people just change; so I’ll say this – it’s a blessing that we’re still on the incline, but I don’t want everybody to know that it’s $7.5 million.
I guess in hip-hop, you’re supposed to boast, but that ain’t me.
Yates, who dons white face paint during his shows, has never tried to fit into any genre. The July release of his latest album, Something Else, features the likes of Kendrick Lamar, CeeLo Green, System of a Down’s Serj Tankian and even the remaining members of the Doors.
The album battled legendary rapper Jay-Z’s Magna Carta ... Holy Grail for the top spot on the rap charts this summer.
It’s crazy, because I don’t have any regular video or radio play, and Jay-Z has everything, Yates says. It really threw me for a loop. I’m (an) underground artist. Yes, it’s bleeding over into the mainstream, but it’s not there yet.
It’s a wonderful accomplishment for an independent artist to get that No. 2 spot, but if I was on the TV and radio, I would have had the No. 1 spot, he says with a laugh.
Something Else marks the first time in two years that Yates will be hitting the road after a major album release, which means he will be performing new music for die-hard fans.
Strange Music artists Krizz Kaliko, ¡Mayday!, Stevie Stone, Prozak and Ces Cru are featured as the opening acts.
I can sit back and watch all of my artists prosper, and that’s a blessing as well, he says.
Just three months out from his latest album release and only a month into his tour, Yates is focused on his new rock project, Therapy, which will be released Nov. 5.
He and multiplatinum rock producer Ross Robinson recorded the seven-song EP at Robinson’s home in Venice Beach, Calif., which Yates says was a therapeutic process of releasing some painful memories for him.
He says the music will be totally different from anything he is ever done.
I hope people like it, but it’s what I feel, he says. Some of it sounds punk, some of it sounds blues-ish, some of it sounds super metal; some of it is super sad, and some of it’s paranoid. It’s Tech N9ne, but it’s full-on rock.
For now, the man with the restless work ethic still has to hit the stage in St. Paul, Minn., and West Des Moines, Iowa, before he reaches Fort Wayne on Sunday. He doesn’t see himself slowing down anytime soon, but he has a feeling he’ll know when it’s time to pull over.
I’m going to do it as long as I can and as long as I am making good music, he says. When I start making whack music, I’ll know it, and I won’t put it out.