For Tech N9ne, it’s been a long time coming. Born Aaron Yates in Kansas City, Missouri, Tech spent the majority of the '90s in major label limbo—getting shelved on one label after another. But Tech hit his stride in 1999 when he founded his own label, Strange Music, which he has slowly built into an independent empire that has sold over 1.5 million records and pulled in $15 million in 2009 alone. Over time, Tech developed a diehard fanbase which he dubbed the Technicians. And yet, the majority of hip-hop fans don’t know much about him and only vaguely recall his guest verse from Sway & King Tech’s 1999 hit, “The Anthem.” But all that looks to change. Last year, Lil Wayne said he wanted to work with Tech and recently followed through on his claim. We got on the horn with Tech—who’s busy writing material for his upcoming album All 6’s and 7’s—to talk about working with Wayne, getting props from legends, and what being on Tha Carter IV will mean for his career.

As told to Insanul Ahmed (@Incilin)

On working with Lil Wayne on a song for Tha Carter IV

“It was really enjoyable to see [Wayne] like what I do. I went down to Miami at their studio The Hit Factory. I got there late the first night, like at one. They got there at 12. I started writing it around one. Fell asleep at 2:30, left the studio, and said, ‘Yo, I’ve got to come back the next day.’ And then we came back the next night and I got to the studio and recorded it before they returned to the studio. So by the time he got to the studio, we already had it recorded with his engineer Mike Banger. So he got to hear it and he really enjoyed it—he listened to it like three times. He saluted me and everything. It was a beautiful feeling man. We did one [song for Tha Carter IV] and he’s doing one for my album. I mean, I can’t really describe [the song we did], but it’s MCing, rapping. Just going. You know how he was doing ‘A Milli’ and it was just rapping? Boom. That’s what we did. We brought our MCs to the table. Rapping, motherfucker. We don’t have to have no certain subject, we were just going. I have no idea who produced the track. He didn’t even know.

On having legends recognize his talents

“I’ve created my own world, I didn’t know if these motherfuckers knew me. It started to hit me when I did Rock The Bells in 2009, and Raekwon, Busta Rhymes, Cypress Hill, and KRS-One were commending me. Everybody was like, ‘We dig your shit.’ And I had no idea that I was even on their radar. When Wayne said [I was dope], that let me know that he was a real MC because he recognizes another MC and his ability. And I’ve heard Wayne be a fucking MC, I know he is. People talk all that shit like, ‘Ah, he’s garbage now.’ You’ve got to listen to that nigga! And he’s at a point where he doesn’t need anybody. He didn’t have to say my name at all or follow through, but he did that shit. You’ve never seen me constantly bombarded with television or radio. I don’t think he understands how big of a look it is, what this will do for my quest. All the people that ever doubted me, or said I was a devil worshipper, it’s like, ‘Now, what do you say?’ Now you have to accept it. There is no way around skill.”