In the middle of October, Dwayne Johnson’s official rap debut turned Strange Music co-founder Tech N9ne’s “Face Off,” taken from his latest release, ASIN9NE, into a viral smash. By the end of the month, the song became the No. 1 rap song in the country, became the No. 1 video on YouTube [Ed. Note: At the time of this writing, the music video has 14.4 million views on the Strange Music page], and became the No. 1 song on TikTok, all over a verse that originally wasn’t even supposed to be a verse.
At the end of a recent junket interview with Complex for Netflix’s Red Notice—which is in theaters now and hits the streaming service on Nov. 12—Dwayne Johnson broke down how his viral verse on Tech N9ne’s “Face Off” came to be. “Just so you know, and everybody at Complex [knows],” Johnson began, explaining that Tech N9ne originally reached out asking if Johnson wanted to be part of a “badass anthem” that already had verses from Joey Cool and King Iso. “He said, ‘I’d love for you to come in on the end and just do spoken word.’ I said, ‘In what way?’ He goes, ‘I don’t know. Maybe like a Rock promo, like if you were in WWE.’ And I said, ‘OK, cool. Let me hear it.’”
After checking out what Tech N9ne, Joey Cool, and King Iso did to the track, Johnson got inspired. “I called [Tech] and I said, ‘Look, brother, I have an idea,’” Johnson said. “‘This might be a great idea or fucking trash.’ He laughed. He goes, ‘What is it?’ I said, ‘I want to try and rap this. Let me really try and attack some bars for you.’ He goes, ‘You want to do that?’ I said, ‘I would love to do that because if I just do a Rock promo at the end, I honestly feel like I’m not doing you and the boys the proper service. I really want to come in and help elevate in any way I can.’”