Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Top 100 Songs of 2011 -- #85: "He's a Mental Giant" -- Tech N9ne

I'm not sure if we can consider Kansas City rapper Tech N9ne "underground" anymore after his FIRST 2011 record (yep, he was prolific this year... we have to pinpoint which album) All 6's and 7's debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart in June. I suppose, while the album certainly made some waves in the rap community, Tech N9ne is criminally underrated in mainstream circles, although the artist doesn't seem to mind much. Tech N9ne is the example of the artist that could have been but chose not to be, opting instead for hip-hop that ventures off the beaten path.

"He's a Mental Giant" leads the pack off both the aforementioned record and Tech N9ne's second release in 2011, Welcome to Strangeland. It highlights Tech's prowess as a spitfire rapper, with production that includes thundering bass and a dual percussion/vocal backing that suggest a tribal influence.

Lyrically, "He's a Mental Giant" finds Tech boasting about his intellectual prowess -- not exactly a popular theme in the genre, as if a rapper's going to brag about anything, it seems like it tends to be his/her money or rapping ability.

But it's his flow that stands out here. Let's be real -- take a lot of modern-day mainstream rappers, and have them spit rhymes as quickly as they can. With a few exceptions, you're not going to find too many to write home about. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but rappers seem to be more laid-back on their rhymes in terms of their tempo than in the past (Twista, anyone? Holy shit!).

As per usual, "He's a Mental Giant" packs a punch quite unlike that of other well-known rappers. Its production is decidedly weird compared to the norm, and there's simply something about the rapper that sets him apart from the rest of the pack. And we're not even talking yet about his imagery, both on video and during live performances. I saw him this year at the Gathering of the Juggalos, and wow. What a show. He's a true thrill to watch.

Only a select few songs in the genre have topped this. If you're looking for a good year-end list in the rap genre, take this song for consideration. Tech N9ne just may become your new favorite rapper.

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