Tech 9, a respected Philadelphia-based battle rapper, passed away this weekend, as first reported by XXL Magazine. The rapper’s real name is Akeem Mickens, and no cause of death has been announced as of late Monday.
“Sadly it’s true. We lost a Philadelphia and battle rap legend and pioneer,” the associated battle rapper Buttah From The Block told the website. “Unfortunately we haven’t fully figured the cause of death. We are praying that it was natural causes. He had no signs of harm done to his body.”
Tech 9 is considered a major figure in the world of battle rap, having competed in dozens of those competitions through the Ultimate Rap League (URL) and other platforms, and later reinventing himself as a battle rap commentator on a show called Champion. The Source magazine, while praising his “humor, clever wordplay and the intensity in delivery,” compared Mickens to the ESPN sports commentator Stephen A. Smith.
Mickens was 32-years-old, according to the New York Post.
The rapper’s death set off a bit of confusion in its immediate aftermath, as there is another, better known rapper known as Tech N9ne, who remains alive and well.
Tech N9ne posted a message of condolences to his departed near-namesake upon the news of his passing.
“Condolences to the battle rapper Tech 9,” Tech N9ne said in a video posted to his Twitter account. “Been battling for years. I’ve observed many a battle of his. Condolences to the family.” Tech N9ne posted the video as he was at customs, returning to the U.S. from a visit to Canada, and noted that he had received many messages, including from family members, who were wondering if he was okay. The replies of that message were full of followers who were worried about Tech N9ne and relieved to hear that he’s still alive, while also mourning Tech 9.
Tech 9, whose real name is Aaron Dontez Yates, is from Kansas City. Both rappers’ nicknames were pronounced the same, and they appear to have both named themselves after the same type of gun.
While not as famous as Tech N9ne, Tech 9 was a respected figure in the larger hip-hop community, and his death was marked by many famous rappers, including Kendrick Lamar and Lupe Fiasco.
Tech 9 and Tech N9ne are not to be confused with Tekashi 6ix9ine, another rapper, who is currently incarcerated after pleading guilty to several federal counts, including conspiracy, racketeering, drug and weapons charges.