Savvy leaders realize that their reputation and power are under constant attack. The authority of rap star Tech N9ne, the self-proclaimed “Kansas City King,” is under siege on multiple fronts.
Impertinent upstarts question his credentials. Cynical critics are quick to point out artistic missteps. Established power brokers resist making room for the top-selling independent artist in the history of hip-hop. Conservative fans loudly protest changes in musical direction.
The masterful new album “All 6’s and 7’s” serves to silence Tech N9ne’s detractors and doubters. The prolific rapper had been in a bit of a rut, but this release represents a startlingly impressive return to form.
A project of remarkable artistic range and undeniable commercial clout, the album is the result of an underappreciated artist calling in favors and stepping up his game. “All 6’s and 7’s” isn’t merely his best release since 2008’s “Killer” — it might be the best album of Tech N9ne’s career.
The album’s star-studded lineup of guest artists has garnered a great deal of attention. Two of the heaviest hitters, Lil Wayne and T-Pain, appear on “Fuck Food.” The collaboration features the most vulgar side of all three stars. While it’s freaky and funny, “Fuck Food” isn’t much more than a kinky novelty. It’s a tribute to the quality of “All 6’s and 7’s” that the track is one of the album’s least interesting songs.
The accurately titled “Pornographic,” featuring E-40 and Snoop Dogg, is even more lewd. The track’s California-style bounce and the contribution of the multi-talented Krizz Kaliko make the song’s extreme sleaze exceptionally palatable.
“Worldwide Choppers” boasts an international cast of speed rappers including Busta Rhymes, Twista and Yelawolf. His fans won’t be surprised to discover that Tech N9ne more than holds his own. “If I Could,” featuring two members of Deftones, is mildly disappointing.
Its attack replicates the rock band’s ’90s sound rather than its current approach. Instead of being great, consequently, the track is merely good. B.o.B is the album’s most successful big-name guest artist. The rising star seems entirely at home on “Am I a Psycho?” The song’s disturbing horrorcore is a Tech N9ne trademark and serves as an example of his broad influence. He recites one of his slogans on “Love Me Tomorrow.”
“Tech will never go mainstream,” he says. “(The) mainstream will go Tech.”
“All 6’s and 7’s” proves his point. While he continues to be denied the acclaim accorded to today’s fresh faces like Drake and Tyler the Creator, “All 6’s and 7’s” secures Tech N9ne’s permanent place in the pop culture firmament.
As the title of the excellent “He’s a Mental Giant” suggests, Tech N9ne is nobody’s fool. Although he’s sold more than 1 million albums, only after a dozen years of struggle is he beginning to be properly acknowledged. His recent successes aside, Tech N9ne hasn’t lost the chip on his shoulder. He continues to mete out punishment to his detractors. And like most successful leaders, he remains mercilessly decisive.
“Off with his head!” Tech N9ne chants at the conclusion of “Cult Leader.”
Long live the king.