Today in Hip Hop History: November 8, 1971
45 years ago, the face of independent hip hop was born with Aaron Dontez Yates.
Tech N9NE, as he is known, was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1971 and is one of the most important figures in independent hip hop history. Needless to say, his moniker stems from the semi-automatic weapon, Tec 9, because of Tech’s “chopper” rapping style. Aaron also claims its deeper meaning with “Tech” short for technique and 9 being the level of completion.
Tech N9NE began his career in 1991 with the hip hop group Black Mafia. He was also a part of groups 57th Street Rogue Dog Villains, Nnutthowze and The Regime. In 1999, Yates formed the infamous Strange Music record label with his business partner Travis O’Guin.
After severing ties with the outside record label that owned his third studio album, Angellic, Tech N9NE completely stunned the whole industry when he started a campaign “F.T.I.,” aka “fuck the industry,” which enabled fans to legally download his album for free off of his website. This was in response to the anti-downloading campaign put in place by the RIAA. F.T.I. is said to have nearly tripled his album’s sales. Not to mention it popularized the business model that is now a regular industry standard in streaming music on the internet.
Tech’s discography consists of 17 studio albums and several other non-official album releases. The rapper has made his fame, following, and career by appealing to a certain “DIY” counter-culture demographic. At the same time, Tech has expertly managed to tote the fine line between respected underground emcee and mainstream realization. The fact that he has had such success in the music industry despite his obvious and vocal opposition to industry trends displays his talent and marketing intelligence.
25 years in the hip hop game and here’s to another 25 more; happy birthday to one of the greatest to do it, Aaron “Tech N9NE” Yates!
Pre-order Tech’s upcoming 18th album, “The Storm,” and catch him on tour this month in True Too’s home country of Australia and New Zealand. For all other things hip hop keep reading at True Too.