Tech N9ne is calling from the bunk in his tour bus in Colorado, where he’s playing the 15th of 68 shows on his massive Strictly Strange tour. Already, the tour has seen its share of sell-out crowds, but the underground rap star gets audibly excited at the mention of the Fresno stop at the Selland Arena on Wednesday.
“You’re talking about the big show,” says Tech, who runs the record label Strange Music and put the tour together.
Partially, he’s referring to the lineup, which along with Brotha Lynch Hung, Krizz Kaliko, Stevie Stone and Ces Cru, includes a one-off performance from the Ohio rap-group (and Fresno favorites) Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. He’s referring to ticket sales, too.
According to the Fresno Convention Center, 4,000 tickets had been sold as of March 31. By comparison, rap-star G-Eazy sold 7,700 last April, Carlos Santana sold 6,400 in September and R&B legend R. Kelly had more than 5,400 fans at his show in February.
Those ticket holders won’t be disappointed, Tech N9ne says. The show is designed to be more than simply a venue for the rapper to play through his hits. It’s an elevated, theatrical performance, he says: “This is some Las Vegas-level stuff.”
The only way it could be more over-the-top is if the images in the show were holograms, and he doesn’t rule out doing that too, someday.
Tech N9ne has done similar tours with his Strange Music artists before, including one that stopped at the Warnors Theatre in 2012. The timing for this tour was very specific, he says: “All of us have been working toward records.”
That includes Stevie Stone, Ces Cru and Tech himself, whose latest, “Collabos: Dominion,” was released Friday.
He started performing at school when he was in seventh grade and began to solidify his signature rapid-fire flow after hearing “The Great Adventures of Slick Rick.”
“It was called stutter stepping, back then,” he says.
The rapper took that concept, doubled and tripled it and then applied it to often dark, horror-themed lyrics. He managed a successful career on the sound – 2015’s “Special Effects” topped Billboard’s Rap Albums chart. More importantly perhaps, he managed to cultivate a thriving roster of independent hip-hop artists on Strange Music.
He says his knowledge can help others in the way others helped him throughout his career.
“There’s always been people, people lending a helping hand,” he says. “Teamwork makes the dream work.”