Kansas City rapper Tech N9ne's left hand is scarred from the gripping fingernails of frenzied fans. And he loves it.
"I like to feel their energy 100 percent," Aaron Yates, AKA Tech N9ne, said. "I love intimate shows, up close and personal. In big venues, it's hard to see faces, hard to touch people."
That's one reason Tech N9ne has performed at The Blue Note a dozen times.
"There's a really good fan base there," Strange Music label Publicity Coordinator Korey Lloyd said. "We have a great relationship with the Blue Note, and it's close to home. College campuses are good spots to be in, because there's lots of fan appreciation. We love their support, and we love to show them that we don't overlook them."
Tech lists other reasons to return as "all the overwhelming love that they give me," the sold out shows and the beautiful women. He feels they might soon need a bigger venue, because his shows at The Blue Note are consistently sold out.
Tech's visit to Columbia offers him a break from his studio work. He's recording his next album All 6's and 7's, set to drop in June.
"It means in a state of confusion, in a state of disarray," Tech said.
He explained that, like his previous album Anghellic, the title stemmed from a tattoo he planned to get.
"It describes me," Tech said. "I embraced my confusion, my sadness. I embraced my madness."
Tech said he can't confirm rumors about tracks featuring Eminem and Nicki Minaj on the new album.
"I have songs for them," he said. "But we don't know if they'll do it yet."
Such kingpin collaborators aren't out of reach for Tech, who recently released a mixtape produced by Dr. Dre, among others. Tech said he would also like to work on tracks with System of a Down, Slipknot and Floetry.
Tech said he bases his songs off the background tracks.
"Once I listen to the beat, life will tell me what to do with it," Tech said, humming the beat to "Caribou Lou." "That beat's telling me what to do."
These background tracks range from the party-ready "Caribou Lou," which has 12 million Myspace plays, to the eerie piano in "K.O.D."
"It sounded so wicked that I had to make it the theme of the album," Tech said of the piano track. "I love the piano riff. It sounded like Hannibal Lector eating somebody's liver."
Tech is best known for his flow and his speed-rapping abilities. His stage name, Tech N9ne, was given to him by rapper Black Walt because of Tech's ability to rap fast as a TEC-9, a semi-automatic handgun.
To Tech, the name signifies the complete technique of rap, because nine is the number of completion and "tech" is short for "technique."
Tech usually wears face paint on stage to get in performance mode.
"I feared clowns when I was younger," Tech said. "As I got older, I became feared. When I'm on that stage, the clown makes it possible for me not to be shy. It's like I'm invincible. The clown protects me from all."
What fans might not expect about the rapper is his love of The Doors. Tech said Jim Morrison has been his inspiration in music. Tech's label, Strange Music, was inspired by "People are Strange," a Doors' song. When Tech performed in Paris, he stopped and drank some Jack Daniel's with Jim Morrison at his grave in Pére Lachaise Cemetery.
"It was a big thing for me," Tech said. "My music took me to a place where a guy was born that inspired me to do something great."
Tech N9ne will be performing March 2 at The Blue Note with Stevie Stone and The Cold Cuts.