It is not Tech N9ne but Fox News anchor Mark Alford who provides the opening words to Something Else, the latest release from the Strange Music CEO. A dark, hopeless situation in Missouri is described by the newscaster during the first of three skits, as a small meteorite leaves the area in a state of emergency underneath ominously burgundy skies. Alford’s reports are preceded by the sound of shattering windows, car alarms, and dog barks, creating a disorderly atmosphere filled with chaos that is applicable to the album as a whole.
Rarely could a project composed of 24 songs and 32 features succeed fully, and this is no exception. The notorious indie MC ends Something Else with an assertion that is meant to be self-explanatory on the four-second closing track consisting of three words: “Strange… Music… Bitch.” Unfortunately, Tech leaves a bit of a mess in his wake, and more than just the vandalism reportedly inspired by him on the second rendition of “News With Mark Alford”.
The toll of having more features than a compilation album is noticeable throughout the album, but it is best exemplified on the song “With The BS”, which contains a generic, boring chorus and a lackluster feature from Trae tha Truth, who drags the rest of the song down thanks to some cringe-worthy lyrics (uninterestingly delivering the words, “Aim and bust, then I bust, then I bust and bust”).
On a broader level, Tech N9ne himself does not deliver as precisely or powerfully as he once did. His ad-libs, while undeniably original and of his own creation, are as tired as ever. Tech N9ne’s off-kilter, charged flow sounds subtly but noticeably sloppy on “Straight Out The Gate”, and when this observation is coupled with blatant mainstream bids such as the Wiz and B.O.B.-assisted “See Me”, something appears to be changing in a negative direction. The Seven-produced track “Love 2 Dislike Me” is perhaps the most musically frustrating moment of the entire project, attempting to blend heavy metal, hip-hop, and string-reliant pop/country. Experimentation is commendable, but the result of pushing certain boundaries is not always worthwhile.
It must be said that Something Else is not a horrible album by any means, nor is every single song unneeded or poorly executed. “That’s My Kid” is a beautifully penned, well-produced track that sees the featured artists implemented perfectly. Tech, a father of three children, addresses fatherhood and his past misdoings as a parent in a verse filled to the brim with emotion and reflective thought: “Instead of me watching them disappear in the night air/I’m at graduation saying that’s my kid right there.” Big K.R.I.T. extends a complementary hand, using his bars to offer advice for his unborn, sharing what he has learned in his 26 years of life. “Meant to Happen”, the fantastic song that follows, is just as potent and revealing: Tech recalls various moments in his life that, at the time, were unfortunate events (His rap moniker, and, in a sense, his career, is owed to an armed break-in when he was living with his Aunt). In retrospect, they had life altering impacts. There is an assortment of songs ranging from good to great on this LP, but their presence is disappointedly overshadowed and diluted.
If slimmed down by five or six records, Something Else could have been just that: a strong talent showcase serving as evidence for Tech N9ne’s seemingly everlasting source of alternative-rap sensibility and skill. Instead, he leaves it up to the listeners to pick and choose the gems amongst an otherwise redundant and prolonged collection of tracks. Until next time, this album is just something else.
3 out of 5
You can purchase Something Else on Amazon.