IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE: CULTURAL REVOLUTIONARY
Immortal Technique is possibly one of the best MCs around at the moment. His ability to flip between scathing battle rhymes and articulate, hardcore political rhetoric is something not many people has the ability to do at the moment. Either battling other MCs or battling the government/record industry/establishment, his articulate, clear diction and his baritone delivery never falters. Instead he is able to move crowds and possibly, even, incite riots.
Born in a military hospital in Peru, rapping breaking and graffing from the age of nine, imprisoned during his college days for assault and being shunted around the prison system have all added to his vivid and articulate dreamscapes about the world powers around him and the way they affect people at the street level. This ability to talk to the person on the street, rather than “coffee shop revolutionaries” his lyrical technique is both scathing and guerrilla-like. Entrenched in jungles, he delivers the film-like “Peruvian Cocaine” where four rappers drop character-verses describing how cocaine goes from being picked in the field to ending up on the street. Entrenched in his own defences, he destroys record companies’ profit-led approach to marketing hip-hop on songs like “The Message and the Money”, recently-released “Industrial Revolution” and Pinocchio-sampled “Freedom of Speech”. Immortal Technique’s world-view is often bleak but he always tries to offer positive solutions and empowerment to people. His tone and vocabulary is aggressive but always clear and articulate. Easily one of the best rappers on the underground scene, he started his career through performing at endless battles and defeating people with ease. After looking back on how far that had got him and how far his heroes had got, he reflected and decided he could not progress artistically or professionally without writing actual songs with concepts and stories and not just battle verse after battle verse. And so, songs he wrote. His political and social commentary filled with factual information and brutal punchlines made it difficult for the labels to deny his skill, but just as difficult for them to sign him. And so Immortal Technique signed to an independent. A planned EP grew into the 17 track album, "Revolutionary Vol.1." Roughly 2,500 copies were pressed up and without any distribution, production budget advertisement, and or label of any kind he sold 2,400 copies and gave the rest to college radio stations and DJ's. This is emblematic of Immortal Technique’s work ethic, his ability to deliver material and to work hard, often off his own back to promote it. With the release of volume 2 of “Revolutionary” available, UKHH caught up with Immortal Technique through e-mail to find out more about his brand of socially-hardcore, reality in rap…
WHAT IS THE MISSION STATEMENT OF IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE?
Lock and Load.
WHAT ARE THE FOUR PRISONS OF MAN?
Self-hatred, Procrastination, Addiction, and Fear.
WHAT DOES MUSIC MEAN TO YOU?
The soundtrack to the world. From the filthiest ghetto to the richest neighborhood.
YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC AS "CULTURED HARDCORE REALITY HIPHOP". WHY DO YOU THINK THAT SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS RAP IS PUSHED UNDERGROUND?
Because if you make the voice smaller then it makes the illusion that the issues that are being spoken about are smaller. If a famous rapper mentions a club or a type of car or a show, then people act as if that shit makes the product or the place better, if some round about mixtape nigga says it then fewer people really care. Now imagine this to the same scale as some global issue or some foreign policy that directly affects the hood, do you think that people who are in direct control of the media like large corporations would give their influence to some street nigga. Politics is a part of everything especially music, whether people rhyme about it or not.
WHAT, IN YOUR VIEW, IS THE NEXT EVOLUTION NECESSARY FOR HIPHOP TO KEEP SOUNDING FRESH?
Hip Hop evolves without anyone's permission or without the blessing of the media, radio stations and especially not one person. It is a movement that is self motivational, it's like the evolution of mammals without the dinosaur's permission, you got these big labels tryna control everything but they can only influence niggaz so much, eventually the people are drawn to something different. In my opinion the next evolution will come soon and Hip Hop will be "fresh". The outcome of it's evolution though, depends on the hearts of the people.
DESCRIBE YOUR PATH INTO RAPPING AND WHAT IT WAS ABOUT THE SOUND THAT HOOKED YOU.
It was just the realest shit out there, and I realized that I could do it, it was probably like the first time Mike Tyson knocked someone the fuck out.
WHAT GIVES YOU THE HUNGER TO WRITE EVERYDAY?
I don't write everyday I work to support the music that I've written, promoting and marketing it correctly, sending it out everywhere. Radio appearances and mixtape drops, I work everyday, I write when I have time to. But life and my experiences give me the incentive to script new thoughts when they come. The struggle of my Latino and Black people and oppressed people globally also has a lot to do with it, it's just something I was born with, something that someone told me before I was born.
DO YOU START WITH A WORD, AN IMAGE A TOPIC OR AN EMOTION?
Sometime it's a concept, sometimes it's a line, passion is a method emotion is feeling they are both useful but neither one is the basis for starting a topic, they are details in the delivery. Sometimes I start with a memory or even a joke me and one of my niggaz was making, for example a while ago I got into a fight and I beat the shit out of some kid and kicked him down a flight of stairs and I remembered it a couple of years later and it became a little piece of a short mixtape freestyle.
HOW INVOLVED ARE YOU IN THE ACTUAL MUSIC-MAKING PROCESS?
From start to finish, sometimes I find the samples, I find the snares, and kicks, help arrange the beat and then we sequence it with the producer. I am there when it is plugged into Protools. Rhyming in the booth is the easy part, I'm there for the 3 levels of the mix down process. And since I'm the executive VP of my label after the MUSIC itself it ready my job isn't even half done. The only thing I don't do anymore is listen to the submissions we get at the label we now have a dept. of A& R that does that for us and reports back whatever he finds the most interesting.
BILL HICKS ONCE SAID THAT ALL THE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS AMERICA SPENDS EACH YEAR ON MILITARY ARMS… IF THEY WERE TO TAKE THAT AND REDIRECT IT, IT WOULD FEED AND CLOTHE THE HUNGRY OF THE WORLD MANY TIMES OVER… DISCUSS?
Absolute power corrupts absolutely, why should someone give a fuck about the hungry and the homeless, especially when they don't have a value on human life. There is no motivation help except in some superficial way that doesn't really sacrifice anything. In the bible a rich man asked Christ for redemption and Yeshua told him to sell everything he had, and follow him. The man turned away unable to give up his earthly possessions. People have difficulty letting go of money even when they have more than they could ever run out of, it becomes an obsession. Remember, money is not the root of all evil, that's a mistake, it's to LOVE of money, the inanimate object, idolized by undeserving human emotion, that is what corrupts the soul.
WHAT WAS THE MOST PIVOTAL MOMENT OF YOUR LIFE?
ANY FINAL MESSAGE FOR YOUR UK FANS?
I'm trying to come out there, but promoters are scared, I'll eventually find one whose not a pussy and has enough influence to bring me out there, the last time I came was cuz of my nigga Ralphdog, much respect to him. He was just someone who appreciated the music and gave me a holla, it wasn't about the money for him he just wanted to bring me out there, he didn't have a a whole shit load of excuses like most cats do. And we did more over there with him in terms of going places and getting plugged into shit than if we would have done shit on our own. If you can check out the website, it's www.viperrecords.com cop Revolutionary Vol.2 it gets sent out very quickly. I'll be there as soon as possible I love the UK, their scene reminded me of NYC in the mid 90's, but I would love to not only see England but also Scotland and Ireland, especially Northern Ireland I have peeps there. So, there you have it… Immortal Technique is true to his word and hardcore to the bone. A call-out to any UK promoters, this man needs to be brought over to the UK so that we can be blessed by his immense abilities. In the meantime, “Revolutionary vol. 1 +2” are available through www.viperrecords.com and “Revolutionary vol. 3” as well as a further EP are all in the pipeline. A great output of material and a wealth of lyrics and knowledge, Immortal Technique is here to stay and as always, on his own terms.
- Nikesh Shukla
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Posted by Sylvia at 9:15 PM