if you go
WHAT: Tech N9ne’s Independent Grind Tour with Freddie Gibbs, Jarren Benton, Krizz Kaliko
WHEN: 7 p.m. Monday, May 19, doors open at 6
WHERE: Nez Perce County Fairgrounds outdoor stage, 1229 Burrell Ave. in Lewiston
COST: General admission/$30, VIP (includes early entrance, side stage location and bartender)/$45. Tickets available at www.ticketfly.com , GNC Lewiston/Pullman, Boomtown American Saloon or at the door.
Not everyone gets rap. And it’s not just because the words are moving fast. With its hydrant-force stream of explicit content, unbridled emotion and unfiltered words that — well, they’d get you in trouble anywhere else — it can be hard for some to see rap’s redeeming quality.
But to its fans, rap music is a lifesaver.
Tech N9ne is no exception. Viewed by many as one of the industry’s more bizarre and hard-core artists, he and a handful of musicians under his Strange Music label are performing Monday at the Nez Perce County Fairgrounds in Lewiston.
Tech N9ne (pronounced “tech nine”) wasn’t available for interview, but in his unscripted and sometimes all-over-the-place fashion, he spoke about what drives his music on a live podcast interview Monday with Jeff Nelson on www.blogtalkradio.com.
“Music is the way I get my therapy,” says Tech N9ne. “If I didn’t have it, I would resort to war.”
His has not been an idyllic life of joy and beauty. Born Aaron Dontez Yates, he grew up in Kansas City, Mo., living a rougher life than most people in the rural Northwest can imagine. Without going into detail, Tech N9ne makes it clear in his interview that many of his life choices are ones he is glad to leave behind.
It’s the music that takes him away from those dark places, both physically and mentally, and it’s those demons of the past that come out in it.
“We do this music thing to get away from some of the things we did as kids,” he explains. “But it’s just so hard to shake some of those things, some of the patterns that you’ve created.”
That his intense expression brings personal release makes sense. But Tech N9ne says he’s not the only one benefiting from it.
“My mama told me I’m an angel sent here to help lost souls … she told me this when I was little,” he says. “Now when I look at my life and see what I’m doing, how I’m helping my fans, it just touches me.”
That claim may seem misguided until 10 minutes later when a caller, identified as Gary from Detroit, backs him up. When he was battling cancer, Gary says, it was Tech N9ne’s music that carried him through.
“It kept my head right, it kept me from going crazy,” Gary says.
So the words that seem intense and obscene to some are an honest reality that others find refreshing because they relate. Tech N9ne tells it like it is, Gary says, he speaks what is inside him whether it’s good or bad, simple or complex, easy or difficult.
“Be real about it,” is what Tech N9ne says about music.
Lewiston’s show was originally billed as open only to those 18 or older. The age limit was later removed, but concert-goers should know Tech N9ne concedes that much of his work is “raunchy.”
This is not Tech N9ne’s first visit to Lewiston; his previous concert drew nearly 1,000, says Shanna Miller, who is helping to promote the event. Given the genre, she’s surprised by the number — and variety — of fans Tech N9ne has in the area.
“It’s never who you’d think it’d be,” she says.
Schmidt can be contacted at email@example.com or at (208) 305-4578.