Arts News: KC Symphony’s first foray into hip hop music will featured acclaimed independent hip hop artist Tech N9ne

Renowned as one of the greatest rappers of all time, Tech N9ne will bring his trademark chopper rhyming style to Kansas City’s Midland Theatre May 4 in a first of its kind collaboration with the Kansas City Symphony.

A KC native whose musical career spans four decades, Tech N9ne has sold more than two million albums and co-founded the independent record label Strange Music with Travis O’Guin in 1999, which he considers one of his proudest professional accomplishments.

His upcoming performance with the symphony and guest conductor and arranger Tim Davies is “being created from the ground up,” according to Jeff Barker, vice president of sales and marketing at the Kansas City Symphony. “We know that Tech attends our classical series concerts, so we reached out and asked if we could work together.”

For his part, Tech N9ne was “flattered” by the invitation, explaining, “This is for the greats, and they chose me. I’m so thankful.”

And while hip hop and orchestral music may seem like strange bedfellows, the performance will highlight the ways in which the styles complement one another. As Tech N9ne notes, “My music has always had orchestral elements.” For example, the song “The Industry is Punks,” featured on his 2002 album Absolute Power, includes French horns and a timpani. Pianos, harps and even operatic singing can be found throughout his music.

“I want people to know that I’ve always been a lover of all types of music, and this is a testament to it. I’m based in hip hop, but through my whole journey in music up until now I’ve always been a lover of music and sound. The symphony is icing on the cake.”

“We are having Tech’s music turned into sheet music for musicians, so other orchestras around the country could work with him too,” Barker said. “It will be an authentic Tech N9ne concert and symphony performance.” Fans of Tech N9ne can look forward to hearing some recognizable favorites from his catalog, such as “Worldwide Choppers,” “Einstein” and “Am I a Psycho?”

For concertgoers who may be less familiar with Tech N9ne’s music, he has a recommendation that they listen to his 2006 album Everready (the Religion) before the big night. “It was a turning point with me musically, getting music from all over the world and bringing it to KC. A lot of feeling.”

Despite his fame and global influence as an independent hip hop artist, Tech N9ne maintains a deep affinity for his hometown and its musical ecosystem. “The talent here is humongous. Whatever lane you choose, it’s here in a big way. There’s something about the Midwest. Everything here happens in a big way when it comes to talent.”

For more information, visit tickets.kcsymphony.org/fy24techn9ne.

Matthew Thompson

Matthew Thompson is an educator, historian, and writer who has lived in Kansas since 2005. His research interests include Progressivism and the Socialist Party of America, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War. He enjoys studying visual arts to help make the world and its history accessible and exciting to others.

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