[Veteran rapper and Strange Music head honcho Tech N9ne recently sat down with hip-hop personality and SOHH correspondent Shawn Setaro on his popular “The Cipher” podcast. Listen to the full interview and check out five gems he dropped during the Q&A. Photo credit: Shawn Setaro]

On why he named his new album The Storm after his 1996 debut The Calm Before the Storm:

“I knew if I went back to the beginning, this would push me to do the best music that I could possibly do, to call it The Storm. The Calm Before the Storm, we started that in ’96. It’s 20 years later—you’re going to have to come with it. And your fans who have been with you since day one, they’re going to be critics. This is the new Tech N9ne, but I elements from the feeling of that album.”

On his use of “killer clown” imagery:

“I used to fear clowns when I was a kid. My mind worked like that back when I was young. I didn’t know what was behind that painted-on smile. Is there malicious intent? I probably didn’t know what “malicious” meant back then, but now that I think about it, I’d ask, is it malicious intent? Is it really a smile that you’re smiling? Are you angry up under the smile? So a clown always felt mysterious. As I got older, I wanted to become what I feared.”

On why he still pays tribute to his early group Nnutthowze:

“I pay so much homage to Nnutthowze because it taught me to think different and not care about what other people think when it comes to giving your heart in the booth. It don’t matter about your appearance. I learned everything from the Nnutthowze, and I cherish that. It gave me the spirit to stick out, rather than fit in.”

On his diverse taste in music as a kid:

“Even when I lived in the hood, I was far-out. I was the only one listening to Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and the Doors, Jimi Hendrix. My Blood homies were like, ‘Turn that white music off, man! That’s loud-ass shit. We don’t listen to that!’ Yes, we do. Yes, we do.”

On working with Quincy Jones:

“Whenever I had a complaint about the label, he would sit me under the big 50-million-plus plaque of Thriller. And every time I’d say, “Pops, the people up there don’t understand me,” he would point at it. “We know exactly what we’re doing. What’s the problem?” You can’t really say nothing to him after that.