Tech N9ne Rap Music Analysis

Tech N9ne Rap Music Analysis:


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I just got a chance to listen to Tech N9ne. I gotta say, his music kinda doesn’t sound like anything I’ve heard. I’m not as familiar with it as you are, but after hearing those songs you listed, I think I will definitely listen to more of his music. You can see the lyrics for the song I’m going to look at,”In My Head,” here. You can hear the song on YouTube here. I want to look at these lyrics:


kinetic
you bet it’s something moving your head
its prophetic
so get it embedded
let it control your bodily
close to lettuce
my head is far from synthetic
you credit
this vet is poetic
that is merely a part of me


That is an especially nice line. You’ll note that there are a lot of rhymes in a short amount of time (kiNETIC you BET IT’s somethin’ movin’ your HEAD its proPHETIC, etc., where all of the lyrics are capitalized), The thing is, he’s making rhymes while still making sense. I talked about this a little in my Jean Grae post here, but there’s something I call the rhyme barrier that all rappers encounter when they try to make rhymes.


When a rapper says a word, and decides to rhyme off it, he has by the very nature of rhyming already greatly limited the number of words that are available to him. For instance, when Tech says the word “kinetic”, and decides to rhyme off it, he can only choose words that rhyme with that word. There is an infinite number of ways to express the same idea. For instance, take the idea “I am the best rapper ever.” You could say, “I am the best rapper ever”, but you could also say, “No one can spit it like me”, or, “I drop lines harder than you”, or “I’m not the next 2pac, I’m the first Tech n9ne.” The challenge for a good rapper, then, is to find that version of the idea that is able to rhyme the most, while still making sense. The classic line I point to is a Busta Rhymes line, from the song ” Get You Some”, which you can hear here.


Busta, raps, “A lot of niggas shit sound dated, I’m like Shaq / the franchise player just got traded.” Note that the first part of the line has nothing to do with the second. In the first, Busta is saying other rappers rhymes sound old ; in the second, he’s saying how his move to a new record label is like an American sports star’s. This is where Busta has run into the rhyme barrier; he limited his word choice with “dated”, and then couldn’t continue the dramatic narrative in a logical way. Eminem is amazing at this – Just listen to the first line of “Still Don’t Give A Fuck”, and listen to how many rhymes there are, while Em is still explaining and describing very specific, logical events. Hear the song here.


The opening lyrics are the ones we want:


i’m zoning off of ONE JOINT
STOPPING A LIMO
HOPPED in THE WINDOW
SHOPPING A DEMO at GUNPOINT


You can see that out of 25 syllables, 18 were rhymed. Meanwhile, the theme of a rapper who isn’t getting the respect he deserves is a classic one that Eminem is expanding on further.


What I’m saying is that Tech n9ne does this well as well. And that above line is proof. Also, I read an interview where Tech said that tries to base his rap off as a percussion pattern. I kinda think that this is something all rappers do, consciously or unconsciously, and is also the very musical function of rap. I expand on this further in another post, called “The Rapping Voice as An Instrument”, which you can find here.

Martin Connor is a music teacher & writer from Philadelphia, PA, with a music degree of high distinction from Duke University who is currently studying for a master’s degree at Brandeis University in Boston, MA, while focusing his research on the vocal melodies of the rap genre. He has contributed freelance articles to HipHopDX, Complex, and Pigeons and Planes, and had multiple articles from his website, www.RapAnalysis.com go viral on BET, The Source, XXL, and MTV. He teaches rap lessons online through the music school LessonFace, and has a book, The Artistry Of Rap Music, forthcoming from the McFarland Publishing House, scheduled for release in late 2017, as a follow-up to his 2014 contribution to their anthology "Eminem & Rap, Poetry, Race." He welcomes all comments, compliments, insults, and restaurant suggestions at mepc36@gmail.com.

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