In the past few years, Kansas City rapper Tech N9ne has emerged as one of biggest hip-hop acts in the biz, despite doing everything independently through his Strange Music label. He’s done well. So well, in fact, that in his nearly 20-year career, he’s has sold over 1 million units collectively.
While it’s his solo career that generates the majority of the Strange Music’s profits — via CD sales, a rigorous touring schedule, and merchandising — the rapper is becoming quite the businessman, helping the label generate revenue elsewhere through their growing roster of artists.
At Strange Music, Tech holds the title of Executive Vice President, where he works hand-in-hand with CEO Travis O’Guin in making the big decisions.
While in L.A. for a show earlier this month, we caught up with Tech to find out exactly what his duties as a label executive entails.
“I’m the n**** that brings in all the acts. A lot of clothing you see, Travis will run it through me: ‘What do you think?'” Tech explained to BallerStatus.com. “As vice president, I sit beside Travis … when I’m there. We put things together … together, whether it be merchandise, whether it be the tours. We do everything 50/50 man. Whenever I come back from a tour, he runs it all down to me. If I say ‘Yah’, we go.
As an exec, Tech has helped sign several artists to Strange Music. Their most recent signee is veteran horrorcore rapper Brotha Lynch Hung, who dropped his label debut Dinner and a Movie in late March.
As a fan of Lynch since his 1993 debut 24 Deep, Tech brought the Sacramento rapper to the label, but it was important, he says, to make sure felt at home. As an artist himself, who’s been through ups and downs in his own career, Tech says the treatment of his artists are one of his top priorities … and so far, so good.
“When people weren’t being true [in my career], it let me learn what not to do when it come to my artists. Or to be 100 with my artists and not be shady … hide money, do all kind of stupid sh**,” Tech N9ne explained. “To have Brotha Lynch Hung over here, happy; to have Krizz Kaliko over here, happy; Kutt Calhoun over here, happy; Cognito over here, happy; Big Scoob over here, happy. That’s a big thing. Means we’re doing it right.
“It lets me sit back and say ‘Yes, I did something correct’. ”
Even with the “vice president” label on his resume, Tech N9ne says he’s still 100% focused on the music side of things, entrusting O’Guin to handle everything, business-wise, day-to-day.
“I don’t balance it,” the rapper admitted. “Travis handles everything else at home, because I do too much on the artist side. I’m touring, I’m in the studio 24/7. That’s why I keep a Blackberry, because it’s the business phone. Travis keeps me up to speed on everything.”
With all Tech’s success, we asked if he plans to retire from music sometime in the future to focus more on label duties. To sum up his answer: “never.”
“Music is in my veins … in my bones. I don’t think I’m ever gonna be able to stop until I die man,” the rapper said. “I tried to stop around Killer time. I’m 38 years old, and move up there like I’m 19. I’m getting stronger. My hair’s getting longer and I’m stronger. I’mma keep moving until my ankles don’t work no more.”
Strange Music are not resting on its laurels. They have a full schedule of projects set to drop throughout 2010.
Tech N9ne just dropped a five-song EP called the Lost Scripts of K.O.D. weeks ago, but is planning the release of a K.O.D. DVD, a third collabos album called The Ollie Gates Mixed Plate in July, a new solo project from Krizz Kaliko called Shock Treatment, the June release of Kutt Calhoun’s Raw And Un-Kut, Cognito’s Automatic, and another solo album from Big Scoob. (June 8)
To pre-order an of the aforementioned project, visit Strange Music’s official website at StrangeMusicInc.net.