Tech N9ne, Absolute Power (2002)
Tech N9ne sounds exactly as he’s named, capable of spraying buckshot rhymes all over the track. Over the years, his rapacious bark has been featured alongside fellow verbal surrealists Eminem (“The Anthem”) and Yukmouth (“The Regime”). But like so many other talented soldiers, the Kansas City, MO rapper was nearly felled by industry politricks when his former label Jcor folded, leaving his last album, 2001’s AngHellic to wither away with little or no promotion. Thankfully, Tech N9ne has returned on a self-owned imprint, Strange Music, resulting in the brash, rapid-fire Absolute Power. Opening with the middle-finger-thrusting opening track, “Industry Is Punks” (“Suge Knight pimped the industry quick/That’s cause most of the industry’s bitch”), Tech N9ne quickly settles old scores with his enemies. Former friend and longtime producer Don Juan gets lyrically dismembered on “Yada Yada Yada” over a swirl of synthesizers reminiscent of 2Pac’s “Hail Mary,” while “Keep on Keepin’ On” depicts his determination to persevere in spite of “demons, haters, and tricks” over an uptempo track driven by Big Krizz Kaliko’s gospel-like chorus. Tech N9ne gets several assists from producers like RUBONYX, who crafts fast-tempo tracks like the violin-driven “Worst Enemy,” among others.However, Absolute Power’s appeal mainly stems from Tech N9ne’s reputation as a quick-witted wordsmith with ridiculous rhyme patterns. Throughout, his voice easily shifts from a fist knocking on your door, waiting to blast you (“Yada Yada Yada”) to the laconic drawl of a lazy, dirty-minded “Slacker.” “I ain’t never understood why the world works,” he claims, “but I always understood why the girls twerk.” As on AngHellic, Tech N9ne is haunted by devilish desires. “Don’t you come near me ‘cause the devil’s sitting next to me/I sip my drink and smoke my weed and pop my ecstasy,” he warns on “Trapped in a Psycho’s Body,” ruing his descent into drug-addled, sex-crazed decadence. “This means I’m really letting the beast within get the best of me.” But Tech N9ne’s doesn’t sound regretful during these tales of addiction, just world weary. Indeed, his amorality makes Absolute Power’s familiar combination of sex, drugs, and industry complaints seem more provocative than they really are. Femi Ojetunde produced “Slacker”; it became Tech N9ne’s first MTV hit.