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Tech N9ne & Hollywood Undead Return to Manhattan For a Night of Strange Music

Strange Music Inc. filled Manhattan’s Terminal 5 with the leading hits of the horrorcore industry as a part of Tech N9ne’s Hollywood N9ne tour series just last week on November 9th, 2023. American rapper Tech N9ne, alongside co-headliner Hollywood Undead with support from King ISO, have been venturing across North America since mid-October, reviving music that much of this generation were raised on and know by heart. The audience welcomed back Tech N9ne to New York City with raised arms and banging heads for a birthday performance that was truly spectacular.

Bred in Los Angeles circa 2005, Hollywood Undead are an American rap-rock band who have become famed for their unique personas and genre-bending stylistic approaches. The band currently consists of five members who all go by pseudonyms including J-Dog, Funny Man, Johnny 3 Tears, Charlie Scene, and Danny. The band recently initiated an on tour drummer, Anthony Ghazel, who is an all around lights out musician and has added an additional depth to the live renditions of Hollywood Undead’s recorded tracks. Aside from their newest member on drums, Hollywood Undead’s current lineup has been consistent since 2010, ultimately generating a very tight-knit, polished group of musicians who bring studio versions of classic hits from the 2000’s to live stages phenomenally. The band gained popularity fairly early on as listeners became attached to the image of the band who, at the start of their careers, all sported their own distinctive masks inspired by hockey goaltender designs. Even though the artists have moved away from wearing masks onstage, fans still come to their shows decked out in DIY masks and other handmade items referencing the roots of Hollywood Undead. In a 2020 interview with member Johnny 3 Tears, the artist described the band’s current sound as “an amalgamation of Nine Inch Nails and the Beastie Boys.” Their most recent album, Hotel Kalifornia, released on August 12th of 2022, continues to evolve Hollywood Undead’s rock tendencies while weaving in new age hip-hop elements.

The strobe lights began to flicker as the six members of Hollywood Undead waltzed on stage to the backdrop of palm trees and die hard fans decked out in gear from the beginnings of Hollywood Undead. The band kicked off the performance with “Chaos”, a track off their newest release Hotel Kalifornia and one of the more hardcore hits from the band's discography. The song intertwines elements of metalcore and screamo genres with the hip hop roots of Hollywood Undead, making the song a fantastic choice to open the set with. The crowd immediately reacted on the first chord by spreading apart to create a circle in the middle of the pit that stayed open for pretty much the entirety of the set.

The band's setlist was thoughtfully constructed, beginning with their most recent hits and then flowing cohesively into their classic, famed tracks the entire crowd seemed to know word for word. The second “Comin’ In Hot” echoed through the venue, the entire performance hall was rapping along, drowning out the performers by shouting the chorus and verses louder than the five singers could keep up with. It is evident New York City has a special place in the hearts of Hollywood Undead. Even though they originate from Los Angeles, Terminal 5’s performance felt like a hometown show. At one point in the set, Charlie Scene slowed things down to shout out his family who were in attendance, including his son Jackie who joined the band on stage for a guitar solo. The fans treated Jackie like another member of the band, cheering him on and making him feel at home in Terminal 5. This intimate moment in the set conveyed how much the band has grown with this scene over the last twenty years and their utter appreciation for their supporters throughout it all. The performance was overall phenomenal and left the crowd begging for an encore from Hollywood Undead.

To close out the night, renowned American rapper, Tech N9ne, took to the stage. The Kansas City rapper has been active in the rap music industry since 1991, being famed as one of the leading musicians in the horrorcore scene. His stage name, Tech N9ne, is inspired by the TEC-9 automatic handgun, a nickname he earned from rapper Black Walt in response to Tech N9ne’s fast-rhyming chopper style. In later years, Tech N9ne further built upon the meaning behind his name, providing an applicable definition in relation to his musical style; It stands for the complete technique of rhyme, with “tech” meaning technique and “nine” representing the number of completion. In 1999, Tech N9ne partnered with Travis O’Guin to initiate his own record label entitled Strange Music Inc. In 2009, Tech N9ne took home the Left Field Woodie award at the mtvU Woodie Awards. Despite minimal individual mainstream success, Tech N9ne has featured countless conventional artists in the scene such as Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, and Corey Taylor of Slipknot, to name a few.

Tech N9ne has become sensationalized for his dynamic rhyme schemes and speed rap abilities, popularized as the Chopper style. Critics cannot get enough of Tech N9ne’s uncommon musicality which “showcases his wide-ranging, mind-blowing flows” while, at the same time, touching on apocalyptic topics such as abortion and infidelity. Tech N9ne has described his recording process previously, stating he purposely creates flow patterns in order to sound like a percussion while he raps. After hearing an instrumental, he then generates different kinds of patterns in which he later “fills in” with the actual lyrics. When touching on his musical inspirations, Tech N9ne references all genres, “I love beautiful music, beautiful music no matter what type.”

The audience, still bubbling with adrenaline from Hollywood Undead’s lively set, were rumbling with exhilaration before Tech N9ne’s stage set up was even fully constructed. Over the decades, Tech N9ne has stuck true to his music, being one of the most consistent artists in the horrorcore scene and harboring a die-hard community of listeners. Tech N9ne began his performance by introducing himself to the crowd, instantaneously connecting with the audience and instilling even more hysteria in fans. Before the first song could begin, Tech N9ne got a sense of the crowd he was performing for by having fans respond to how many times they’ve witnessed a Tech N9ne experience. Being my first time ever attending a Tech N9ne show, I was taken back by the vast majority of the crowd who had seen the artist perform before, multiple times even. I was even more astonished to see fans reciting every single word to the fast-tempo raps, including all the complicated word structures and flows.

To put simply, Tech N9ne puts on a performance that engages an entire crowd, even those hiding in the balconies. N9ne’s charismatic personality draws an audience in immediately and he keeps them entertained throughout an entire thirty-song setlist by weaving in witty commentary and compelling the crowd to be a part of the show. One of my personal favorite moments in the set was when N9ne challenged fans to get every single word exactly on beat with him for a chance to come up and rap the next song beside him on stage. The crowd belted their hearts out, all competing to be the loudest in the room and every single one of them were on beat. I don’t know how N9ne was able to pick just one person from the crowd!

Tech N9ne celebrated his birthday in Manhattan’s Terminal 5 just last week and fans made sure the American rapper had the best birthday possible by giving their all song after song. Even if you’ve never heard of Tech N9ne’s endless acclaimed hits, the artist puts on an impressive and compelling performance that anyone can most certainly enjoy, or at best dance along to the beat of. While the tour series is rounding up in its final cities this week, fans can expect both Hollywood Undead and Tech N9ne to return to stages soon. Keep up with both artists below to be the first to know about future live performances and new releases!


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