Tech N9ne is one of the most popular underground rappers out there.  With his insanely fast flow and his unique, almost heavy metal-esk sound, he is a man who has worked hard to achieve his success.

Aaron Dontez Yates (born November 8, 1971), who is better known by his stage name Tech N9ne (pronounced Tech Nine), is an American rapper from Kansas City, Missouri.  In 1999, Yates and Travis O’Guin founded the record label Strange Music.  Throughout his career, Yates has sold over two million albums and has his music featured in film, television, and video games.  In 2009, he won the Left Field Woody award at the mtvU Woodie Awards.

His stage name comes from the Tec-9 semi-automatic handgun that was given to him by rapper Black Walt due to his fast rhyming Chopper style when he raps.  Yates later applied a deeper meaning to the name, claiming it stands for the complete technique of rhyme, with “tech” meaning technique and “nine” meaning the number of completion.

Yates began rapping at a very young age and would rap the letters of his name in order to remember how to spell it.  He never met his father and his mother suffered from epilepsy and lupus when he was a child which emotionally affected him and inspired him to “search for God.”  He would wonder around abandon building with his best friend, Brian Dennis, hoping to catch a ghost on film.  In 2003, Dennis was shot and killed by his girlfriend’s ex-husband, which further inspired Yates to search for a higher power, as well as give him the drive to vent his frustration into his music.

Early in his career, Yates was a member of a group formed in 1991 called “Black Mafia.”  He saw glimpses of success in the group “57th Street Rogue Dog Villains” with their single “Lets Get Fucked Up.”  As a member of the group “Nnutthowze,” Yates signed with Perspective Records in 1993.  However, the group disbanded soon after being released from the label.  Yates then signed with Qwest Records briefly before moving to JCOR Records.

In 1997, Yates joined the group “The Regime” that was formed by rapper “Yukmouth.”  The following year, he was featured on the soundtrack for the film “Gang Related.”  Yates aapeared on the song, “The Anthem” by “Sway & King Tech” in 1999.  Later that year Yates and O’Guin founded the record label Strange Music.

In 2001, Yates released the studio album, “Anghellic,” on JCOR Records.  After disputes arose over the promotion of the album, Yates and his label severed ties to JCOR Records with a deal that allowed them to retain the rights to the album.  The next year he released “Absolute Power,” under a 50-50 joint venture between Strange Music and M.S.C. Music & Entertainment.  The album debuted at number 79 on the Billboard 200.  The album’s sales are said to have tripled following the “F.T.I.” campaign that was created by Yates and his label.  The campaign asked music listeners to legally download the album for free through Yate’s own website was a response to the anti-downloading campaign by the RIAA.  In 2006, Yates released the album, “Everready (The Religion).”  The next year he released “Misery Loves Kompany.”  Yates announced that this album was the first in a series of collaboration albums that would feature a wide range of guest appearances.

In 2008, Yates released the album, “Killer.”  That September, he exceeded one million album sales over his entire catalog.  Yates commented on the albums success saying “it just reminded me of all the work we’d done in the past, up until now.  I’ve been celebrating for the last two days because that’s a hell of an accomplishment.”  Yates released his second collaboration album, “Sickology 101,” in April 2009.  In October, 2008, Yates released the album, “K.O.D.,” which was an acronym for “King of Darkness.”  The album featured dark overtones, as Yates was dealing with the illness of his mother.  Later that year, Yates released his third collaboration album, “The Gates Mixed Plate.”

In 2011, Yates released his newest album, “All 6’s and 7’s.”  The album featured several hip-hop artists as well as rock artists including “B.o.B.,” “E-40,” “Snoop Dogg,” “Hopsin,” “T-Pain,” Jay Rock,” “Mint Condition,” Busta Rhymes,” “Twista,” “Lil’ Wayne,” “Yeawolf,” “Deftones” and many others.

Yates has since released a few more collaboration albums to much critical success.

Yates is best known for his dynamic rhyme schemes and speed rap abilities known as the Chopper rap style.  Soren Baker of VH1 states that Yates’ techniques “showcase his wide-ranging, mind-blowing flows.”  Baker characterizes Yates’ earlier work as “apocalyptic music, which discussed abortion and infidelity as much as his rapping prowess.”  Allmusic reviewer Jason Birchmeier calls his style “bizarre hardcore rap.”

Yates says that he is influenced by old school hip-hop and specifically cites, “Slick Rick,” “N.W.A.,” “Public Enemy,” “Boogie Down Productions,” “Eric B. & Rakim,” “Schoolly D,” “Biggie Smalls” and “Just-Ice.”  He is also interested in other genres of music and lists “The Doors,” “Pink Floyd,” Led Zeppelin,” “Elton John,” “AC/DC,” “Linkin Park,” “Metallica,” “Floetry,” Slipknot,” System of a Down,” “Serj Tankian,” “Outcast” and “Gnarls Barkley” as influences.  He remarks that “I love beautiful music, beautiful music no matter what type.”

Yates has certainly worked his way to success.  By going from one group to another, to one record company to another, he has created his own success and popularity.  With almost no help from the mainstream media or radio, he has become one of the most popular underground rappers out there.  With insanely fast rhymes and flows, and interesting hardcore rap beats that mix hip-hop with heavy metal at times, he has also made himself a unique presence within the hip-hop community.  He has lots of hits and singles throughout his career.  I will try to include all of his best below so that you can see just how amazingly fast he can rap and how awesome and unique his songs are.