Tech N9ne still has technical proficiency to spare, but Asin9ne is both undercooked and overstuffed, offering no reason for the rapper to retain relevance.
It must be really, really nice to be a Tech N9ne fan: imagine, if you will, being one of these said devotees (yes, they do exist out there, and in large enough numbers to warrant an enthusiastic following) knowing full well that every 365 days, almost like clockwork at this point, your favorite fast-rapping MC will deliver another hour-plus album of new material. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Listening to these Tech N9ne albums, year after year; what an experience that must be. Tech’s been sticking to this release strategy since 1999 and has yet to throw in the towel, even after recently turning 50 and for some reason still thinking it’s cool to be a horrorcore musician in middle-age; it’s the type of work ethic that most rappers give up after making it big commercially — then again, Tech N9ne has never really “made it” either. Sure, he has notoriety and has some level of industry respect, but he’s only ever felt comfortable within his own independent lane. So instead of doing high-profile features, he’s touring about 360 days of the year; go figure. But this is a badge of honor for Tech, or so he tries to claim on his latest release, ingeniously titled Asin9ne. As he puts it, mainstream artists don’t have as many flows as him (like the agro-robotic, late-period Eminem one he bites heavily on “Knock that Noodle”), that their catalogs aren’t as musically diverse as his, and that they aren’t willing to take risks. He’s at least correct with that last point: few other working rappers with a morsel of fame would have dubstep crossovers on their albums in 2021, especially ones that end on a pedophile joke (“What Rhymes with Threat’ll Kill Ya”) or feature an outro announcing that listeners should skip the next one “if they don’t like sex” (“Zaza”).
In other words, this is an affair removed not only from popular culture writ large, but from reality itself. Asin9ne is a meaty, WWE-styled piece of empty spectacle in that sense — a claim which is only solidified with the inclusion of the first verse of recorded material from one Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, a ridiculous moment of many that follow one after the other on the top-heavy first leg of the record. The aforementioned tenets of the project are listed on the opening mission statement “The Hearder,” with operatic church organs pounding away over lame guitar riffs to make a rap-rock track that never really rocks; it’s gothic pump-up music, which feels as forced in execution as that description makes it sound. But boy, does Tech rap; it’s about the only thing he’s technically proficient at (he tries his hand at singing a few times for some ungodly motive, possibly blackmail), and so he keeps going, until a track even gives up at one point. Admittedly, there is some minor joy to be felt whenever he’s ferociously zipping through knotty rhyme schemes like he’s a buzzsaw and the beat is the wood, but those brief slivers of amusement are few and far between. They become lost within a collection of tracks that are simultaneously undercooked and overstuffed, where the appeal of a voice like Tech N9ne in today’s hip hop landscape feels completely unfathomable.
Published as part of Album Roundup — October 2021 | Part 3.