All 6s and 7s
For the uninitiated, Tech N9ne is seen as more than just a rapper, he is an underground legend, a self proclaimed Riot Maker and Cult Leader and judging by the reaction he gets at his shows, these are titles you would find it hard to take away from him. From the awe struck faces of people in the front rows to the chaos breaking out in the mosh pits at the back (yes, mosh pits at a hip hop show), it is clear to see that Tech N9ne can never be claimed to be just a rapper.
A phenomenon then, would be a much more accurate description and with ‘All 6’s and 7’s’, Tech’s 13th full studio release, he has enlisted the help of some of hip hop’s biggest including Busta Rhymes, B.O.B and Lil’ Wayne to name but a few. Understandably, some long time fans have expressed concern about these guests being on the album, claiming that they were too mainstream and would dilute the raw, hardcore sound that they had grown so accustomed to.
Luckily, however, almost the exact opposite effect is achieved with B.O.B and Busta bringing possibly the best verses of their career’s to the table in ‘Am I A Psycho’ and ‘Worldwide Choppers’ respectively; Tech truly has managed to bring the best out of his guests and as he promised years ago, he ‘hasn’t turned mainstream, the mainstream has turned Tech’. The aforementioned ‘Worldwide Choppers’ is easily one of the highlights of Tech’s career, let alone this album, bringing Yelawolf, Busta Rhymes whose partially stuttered verse is definitely one of those all too rare moments that absolutely demand a rewind, Ceza who opening the track in his native Turkish, Twista and more all delivering extremely tight verses at the speed of light to avoid being outclassed by Tech (which is no easy task).
For many, Tech N9ne is at his most appealing when at his most introspective and there is no shortage of his trademark self loathing and apologetic lyrical content, most notably on ‘Mama Nem’ and‘If I Could’, the latter of which is a slower paced track featuring an outstanding cameo from Deftones that proves that Tech can still impress with his lyricism just as much as he can with his speed; although there is nothing quite as deep as ‘Suicide Letters’ or ‘This Ring’ from earlier in his career he is still a very open and honest lyricist on this records who isn’t afraid to bare his scars for his fans to see. There has also been a darker side to Tech throughout his career (listen to ‘Trapped in a Psycho’s Body’ from 2002’s Absolute Power for evidence of that) and this is also present on ‘All 6’s and 7’s as shown on ‘Am I a Psycho?’, which features an unusually raw B.O.B launching a scathing attack on Odd Future in his verse (another of the many highlights on this album) and where ‘Trapped in a Psycho’s Body’ may have been Tech’s ‘The Way I Am’, this track is his ‘Guilty Conscience’ with the split personality dialogue between B.O.B and himself taking centre stage.
Lil’ Wayne’s contribution to the album was one of the main talking points leading up to it’s release and it has to be said that ‘Fuck Food’ featuring Wayne and T-Pain hasn’t lived up to the hype, whilst still a solid track, Wayne’s verse feels tacked on and leaves you wondering Tech couldn’t just have recorded the song with himself and long time collaborator Krizz Kaliko who is in typically top form every time he opens his mouth on this record to similar, if not better effect. Still, whilst the song may not live up to the hype, the fact that Tech is now working with rappers as big as Wayne is a huge credit to his hard work over the 25+ years he’s been making music and possibly a path to the extra attention that Tech deserves for his talent and perseverance.
In summary, this is undoubtedly one of Tech’s best albums in which he doesn’t stray from his style despite the popularity of his collaborators, an issue that is accurately addressed on ‘Love Me Tomorrow’. Whilst there may be one or two tracks that could be cut from the album without detriment to the quality, there are highlights aplenty on this release and it’s sure to please the hardcore Technicians just as much as it would appeal to those who may not have heard of him before. The album ticks all the boxes except one, there’s still no collaboration with Bone Thugs n Harmony.
Ryan De Freitas.