An album by Tech N9ne
Review presented by Warren Peace
Purchase Special Effects by Tech N9ne on iTunes or most retailers including Best Buy. You may also be able to find most, if not all, of these tracks on YouTube, but I will only be inserting official music videos released by Tech N9ne on YouTube.
Over the years, Tech N9ne has become one of my favorite artists. I am a Technician (the term Tech N9ne uses to reference his fans) and I am proud to be one. Tech N9ne has risen through the underground, built Strange Music Inc. into a company recognized by Forbes Magazine, and has worked with artists from every genre and corner of the music industry, some artists considered main stream and others many people have never heard of. I chose Tech N9ne to be my first review of a best-selling artist because of my appreciation for what he has done with his career and the enjoyment I have received over the years listening to his music. What album would be better to review than his newly-released Special Effects?! I bought a copy and have listened to it for a week straight, and I am ready to deliver my opinion of Special Effects! Let’s get to it!
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1. The Procedure (Intro)
This was interesting, and a pretty original introduction to an album for me because I haven’t heard anything like this. With sounds of the drill twisting, this intro gives us the impression that we are about to take a look into the mind of Tech N9ne. Toward the end of the intro, everything begins getting a little creepy. An interesting introduction, to say the least.
2. Aw Yeah? (InterVENTion)
An emotional and truthful track from Tech N9ne that seeks understanding and definitely vents his frustration regarding the passing of his mother. One of the best songs with an artist pouring his heart out to an audience that I have ever heard, Tech N9ne delivers fantastic lyrics with his trademark flow over a beat that creates a feeling to match the entire idea behind Tech’s words and thoughts. Honestly, I don’t think anyone else could ever use the music from this song and not be frowned upon after hearing this track. First song on the album, and Tech delivers with an obvious selection to the Featured Track list.
At first I thought Lacrimosa would be a Spanish term, but after doing some research I learned the term is Latin and its meaning is “weeping”. A solid follow-up song to Aw Yeah?, Lacrimosa has a beautiful chorus over an emotional beat that Tech uses to continue telling his feelings of his mother’s passing. Addressing how he handled her death and the struggles involved, Tech is still able to keep his verses lyrical and interesting instead of sounding like something we have all heard before.
4. Condolences (Skit)
This skit includes several messages from people who have left phone messages showing support and love for Tech N9ne after the passing of his mother. A personal, touching addition to the album.
5. On The Bible feat. Zuse and T.I.
I enjoy the overall feel of this beat, especially the shots firing. Zuse brings in a catchy chorus that sets a tone parallel to the music, which gives a perfect platform for Tech N9ne and T.I. to deliver their verses. And wow, do they deliverdeliver on their verses! Lyrically, Tech N9ne and T.I. hit a level playing field within On The Bible that is well above most hip hop artists, as well as a song getting put on the Featured Tracks line-up.
6. Shroud feat. Krizz Kaliko
Tech’s words are played backwards to open this track, giving a demonic, eerie feeling. The chorus for this is one of my favorites of the album, and Shroud gives the listeners an overall solid addition to Special Effects.
7. More Psycho Messages (Skit)
This skit had me laughing, probably because I’ve had similar experiences. The bipolar actions put on display are hilarious.
8. Psycho Bitch III feat. Hopsin
I feel this song on so many levels, it’s unreal. Throwing women who play men and screw with the mind’s of men under the bus is not all Hopsin and Tech N9ne deliver to the audience on this track. The creative angle is appealing for me and should keep anyone listening interested from the start to the end. Psycho Bitch III will be another addition to the Featured Tracks already compiled so far for Tech N9ne’s Special Effects.
9. Wither feat. Corey Taylor
I admit, the first time I heard this song I was not a fan. After listening to Special Effects for a little over a week, Wither has not only grown on me but has become one of my favorite tracks. (Note: My fiance is a huge metal fan and absolutely loves this song) As far as hip hop and rock go, this song is a great blend of the two genres. ‘Rip Rock’, a growing term for a blend/mix of rock n’ roll and hip hop, is one of Tech N9ne’s specialties. On Wither, Tech N9ne and Corey Taylor take it to another level with a back and forth approach between the two, similar to how a cypher is done in hip hop. Starting off as one of my least favorite songs and ending on the Featured Track list shouldn’t just say something in this case, but it should prove something as well.
10. Dead Alive (Skit)
A fitting skit for the feeling and concept of most songs on Specials Effects, Dead Alive also gives the audience an awkward few moments the first time it’s heard as someone apparently leaves Tech a voicemail full of depression and seeming to want to end everything, only to be followed by another voicemail left for Tech N9ne a few days later apologizing for the previous call and showing appreciation for life.
11. Hood Go Crazy feat. 2 Chainz and B.o.B.
Easily one of my favorite songs on Special Effects, I had to go to YouTube after hearing this to see if there was a video. Fortunately there is, and I have posted it blow for everyone. B.o.B. appeared on Tech N9ne’s All 6’s And 7’s album, released in 2011, on a popular song called Am I A Psycho also featuring Hopsin (who happens to be featured on Special Effects’ Psycho Bitch III, which is his second feature on a Tech N9ne album as well). Am I A Psycho is in regular rotation for me, and B.o.B.’s lyrically incredible verse on that track made me hope more collaborations between B.o.B. and Tech N9ne would come in the future. After explaining all of that I’m sure it’s needless to say how glad I was to see B.o.B.’s name as a featured artist on Special Effects. My first time listening through the album, I anticipated listening to Hood Go Crazy just as much as Speedom (featuring Eminem). After finally hearing one of the two songs I looked forward to hearing the most on this album, I’ll admit to some disappointment that B.o.B. doesn’t have a full verse on the track. However, B.o.B. delivers one of the best choruses on the album with an easy-feeling, catchy hook that could capture an audience anywhere, whether in a club or scanning through random music online. Of course, Tech gives us high energy, his trademark flow with speed changes throughout the delivery, wordplay, punchlines, and metaphors. 2 Chainz is an artist who seems to have two sides to him when it comes to his music; either he brings an approach more suitable for street appeal or he gives the audience his lyrical style. I’m more a fan of the lyrical style when it comes to 2 Chainz, but on Hood Go Crazy we hear 2 Chainz blend his lyrical side and his street appeal side in such a way that I would say this is my favorite verse ever from the artist. Tech N9ne scores big here in many ways. Incredible efforts from the featured artists, lyrical appeal, a beat that practically forces you to bounce with it, a chorus that gets stuck in my head all the time, and entertainment from start to end makes Hood Go Crazy an easy choice to be on the Featured Tracks list.
12. Bass Ackwards feat. Lil Wayne, Yo Gotti and Big Scoob
On Nas’ Stillmatic album, listeners were able to hear an incredible song where Nas told a story backwards, from the end to the beginning. Before hearing that song, and since hearing it, the creative originality Nas brought to that track has not been duplicated to my knowledge. On Tech N9ne’s Bass Ackwards, Tech switches the beginning letters or syllables between phrases. An example would be the last words he speaks on his verse “fother mucker” and does so throughout his verse with such ease that Tech could convince some people he speaks in that manner all the time. His original approach and creativity does not carry over into Yo Gotti’s verse, though. Yo Gotti has the worst verse on the entire Special Effects album, with the only line of his I like being the “selling flour” ending. Fortunately, Big Scoob brings the entertainment level back up when he laces his verse over the bound-to-make-you-bounce beat. Unfortunately, Big Scoob fails at bringing everything back up to the place Tech’s creativity and originality originated. Lil Wayne gets another feature on a Tech N9ne album (Wayne was also featured on All 6’s And 7’s), and actually rounds out Bass Ackwards at the same plateau Tech N9ne began the track after a bit of a slow start by the veteran. Overall, I really enjoy this song and I know it will be one of my most listened to tracks on this album, and the same will probably be true for most people who purchase Special Effects. The horrible verse Yo Gotti delivered paired with the sub-par stanza Big Scoob is nearly bad enough to overshadow the epic kick off by Tech N9ne, which bothers me because Bass Ackwards has groundbreaking originality and originality is very, very rare. There will be many who disagree with me, but my decision to leave Bass Ackwards off of the Featured Tracks will only change if Tech makes a Part II and does not get Yo Gotti in the studio to be featured on it.
13. No K feat. E-40 and Krizz Kaliko
Another one of my favorite songs, No K’s beat has a club bounce to it that is easy for anyone to vibe with, a catchy chorus that can get stuck in your mind for hours, and two fantastic features from Krizz Kaliko and E-40, who delivered a verse so thoroughly proper I would have to say it’s my favorite verse from him, EVER. “No K” is also a phrase I could see becoming extremely popular and used in slang for years to come. Tech stands out on this track just like he has on every song before this, regardless of who has been featured. No K gets the No-Odd as a Featured Track, filling yet another slot for Tech N9ne on the list.
14. Countdown (Skit)
Not really much to say about this brief intermission. Tech N9ne has done a similar countdown like this in previous albums, which doesn’t make it original for me. However, if you noticed that Eminem is on the next track and knew Tech N9ne has waited since 2002 to get on a song with Eminem, then you can understand why Tech wanted to add some suspense and build anticipation for the next track.
15. Speedom (WWC2) feat. Eminem and Krizz Kaliko
As I mentioned previously, I anticipated listening to Speedom the very moment I found out Eminem was featured on the track. Although I am a fan of Eminem, I wasn’t looking forward to hearing the track for that reason. Actually there were two other reasons. The first reason is Tech N9ne’s desire to collaborate with Eminem since 2002 and finally got his wish thirteen years later, meaning Tech was anticipating the release of this song more than anyone else. Second, this track is part two of World Wide Choppers, a song listen to regularly and also meant Eminem would be delivering his lyrics with a quickness to match Tech and the other artists featured on the first W.W.C. After several listens and disregarding anything anyone was saying about the song on social media, I came to the conclusion that this is perfect for a second installment of W.W.C. and I felt Tech N9ne, Krizz Kaliko, and Eminem all delivered stellar verses. Tech kicks things off to begin the song with a few lines before Krizz Kaliko takes off in one of the best verses I have heard from him. The beat is better than the first one used for W.W.C. in my opinion, as it speeds up and slows down throughout the track, giving the emcees different patterns to switch up and change their flow’s pace as they see fit. In Krizz’s verse, when the guitar picking can be heard in the beat, I found my favorite section of the song. The sound of his voice, the rhythm of his words, and the consistency of his rhymes match so perfectly in that section of the song. I had to mention it in this review. Eminem is known for being a lyrical powerhouse, and he doesn’t disappoint here. I had to listen to this song many times to hear every word Eminem speaks, though, due to the fact Eminem delivers the fastest verse on the song, and that I’ve ever heard from him. Eminem left the burst of speed displayed on Rap God, his Guinness World Record song for most words on a single track, in the dust after the display he puts on in Speedom. Tech N9ne rounds out the track by not only matching Eminem’s lyrical tirade, but by taking it a step further and opening up the final verse with several lines that include almost every word beginning with the letter ‘F’. After noticing this, on repeat listens to the album, I realized Tech N9ne does this several times throughout the album, using different letters each time and keeping the same consistency of delivering word after word beginning with the same letter. It seems like Tech continues to find ways to impress me with his lyrical ability, even after listening to his music for years. Without a doubt, Speedom (WWC2) will be on the Featured Tracks list.
16. Give It All feat. Audio Push and Krizz Kaliko
Give It All is another track I will be keeping in constant rotation. Blending rock and hip hop again, the chorus is likely to get trapped in your head for long periods of time and the music behind the vocals is bad ass, to put it simply. Every verse is delivered well, and the emcees keep the lyricism at a high level. The Featured Tracks just got another addition with Give It All.
17. Yates feat. Marcus Yates
If Tech N9ne has made any previous songs with a family member, I have yet to hear it. Tech N9ne delivers two of my favorite verses on Special Effects back to back here, setting the bar quite high before Marcus Yates introduces his abilities behind a microphone. Marcus Yates does not disappoint, showcasing an impressive flow, a large vocabulary, and clearly has the potential to do great things in music. The downside with Marcus Yates on this song would be how he noticeably falls short of matching Tech’s lyricism and not quite connecting with the audience the way I feel he wanted to on some of his lines. In the end, I feel Marcus Yates proved he could build himself a place in the hip hop ranks, and hopefully we will see more from him in the future.
18. M T M D (Skit)
In this skit, Tech N9ne delivers a message I never saw coming, but is interesting nonetheless. You’ll have to hear this one for yourself, though.
19. A Certain Comfort feat. Kate Rose
If there was ever a voice to come from the other end of the spectrum in comparison to Tech, but is able to create a perfect balance on a song with Tech N9ne, it would belong to Kate Rose. She delivers beautiful vocals and holds her own place in A Certain Comfort, making Kate Rose one of only a few artists who have been featured on any previous Tech N9ne song that has been able to give a stand out performance next to the lyrical juggernaut. Honestly, if I heard A Certain Comfort without knowing who’s album it was on, I would not have been surprise if this was a song on a Kate Rose record with Tech N9ne as the featured artist. Both artists compliment one another so well on this song that I hope to hear more collaborations between them in the future. Within his lyrics, Tech speaks about defeating demons and hit home with me when he said the final words of the track. A Certain Comfort makes the Featured Tracks list without a doubt.
20. Burn It Down feat. Ryan Bradley
Tech N9ne just isn’t going to let up in Special Effects, is he? Following the incredible track A Certain Comfort, Tech N9ne gives the audience another superb song with an impressive vocalist, this time with Ryan Bradley. Bradley delivers a fantastic chorus, one that is not only catchy but also matches the tone and feeling of the verses as perfectly as possible. In his first verse, without saying any names, it seems Tech N9ne is directing his words at Kutt Kalhoun with truth and raw emotion. Tech N9ne’s second verse is on the same level, but aimed more at foul, flaw friends and family members. Understanding the emotions behind the lyrics and feeling within the words, I enjoy Burn It Down every time I listen to it, cementing its place within the Featured Tracks.
21. Life Sentences feat. Krizz Kaliko, Joey Cool, and Gee Watts
In Life Sentences, we are given a collaboration by several talented artists who easily connect with the audience through their words. In Life Sentence, we also hear the only track of the album in which Tech N9ne does not clearly have a superior, stand out voice. Actually the opposite, as Tech opens the song and as the track progresses, every emcee seems to raise the bar higher than the artist on the track before them. It’s like a gradual increase in lyricism happens as the song continues. Life Sentences is a solid addition to Special Effects.
22. Dyin’ Flyin’ feat. Krizz Kaliko
If I had to choose a single track on Special Effects that I could do without, Dyin’ Flyin’ would be the one and only. I’m sure it’s just a matter of taste, but the was very little about this track that I truly enjoyed. It isn’t a horrible song or a bad track by any means, but the vibe never came through for me, lyrically this was not on par with any other track of the album in my opinion (although the verses here are ten times better than the verse Yo Gotti presented previously). Nothing else to really say in regard to Dyin’ Flyin’.
23. Worldly Angel
Getting personal with his audience once again, Tech N9ne uses his vocals on Worldly Angel to tell us how frustrated and tired he is of the evil and negative things in this world. He speaks about being ready to move on to the next world and cannot wait to be free of the ungrateful, foolish beings of this current world. I felt a lot of what Tech N9ne had to say in this song, and enjoyed Worldly Angel from beginning to end.
24. Roadkill (Tech N9ne & Excision)
Roadkill seems to me like a bonus track on the album. So many elements were used on Roadkill, it’s unreal how well everything came together and resulted in such a great song. With a dance/dub-step style sound to the music, the vocals have a rock n’ roll approach throughout the song until Tech N9ne adds another element by showcasing his trademark flow in a hip hop influenced verse. I dont believe I have ever heard anything quite like this, and although it is not one of my favorite tracks of the album, Roadkill definitely paves the way for artists wanting to bring together several different elements from several different genres, and I’m hoping Tech N9ne will continue experimenting in this manner because Roadkill proves he has the right idea and is going in the right direction.
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Aw Yeah? (InterVENTion), On The Bible, Psycho Bitch III, Wither, Hood Go Crazy, No K, Speedom, Give It All, A Certain Comfort, and Burn It Down.
The Write Up
Simply put, this is another great album from Tech N9ne. I have listened to this album on repeat, practically, since the day of its release. Special Effects blends many genres of music, something I have always appreciated from Tech N9ne, while hosting some great featured artists, wonderful instrumental music, and witty lyrics delivered with precision and raw emotion. If I were go compare this to other albums from Tech N9ne, I would say Special Effects is a blend of All 6’s And 7’s (released by Tech N9ne in 2011) with Something Else (released by Tech in 2013). On my list of all-time favorite Tech N9ne albums, which totals 15 studio album to date, Special Effects lands at #3, behind All 6’s And 7’s (my #1 favorite Tech album) and Strangulation (#2). I am thoroughly pleased by Special Effects and will continue listening to this album on a regular basis. I will definitely be waiting for the next album from Tech N9ne, and I am sure he will continue making great music for all of the Technicians out there!
(4 out of 5 stars)
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