Immortal Technique -
Essence of Revolution
10/6/04 - LatinRapper.com exclusive interview
When an artist or group
distance themselves from the standard rap formula, when they
set out to make real music and are unwilling to compromise
their integrity for the sake of making a dollar, its time to
listen. Enter Immortal Technique: Brash, unapologetic, a
lyrical dose of reality as subtle as a brick to the face. Born
in a military hospital in South America, Immortal Technique
was brought to the United States in the early 80's while a
civil war was breaking out in his native Peru. In New York he
found his niche in the world of Hip Hop, yet a violent
disposition left him with multiple arrests and eventually a
Back out, the VP of Viper
Records would earn his stripes as a battle rapper and release
a series of politically charged albums that earned him
numerous accolades in the Hip Hop media. Technique answers
some of our questions in an exclusive Q&A.
LatinRapper.com: What's the latest word on your next album,
and how will Revolutionary Vol. 3 differ, if at all, from your
first two releases?
The next album I release will not be called a part of the
Revolutionary series. It is leaving the conceptual stage right
now and starting to be recorded and all that. It'll be a much
more brutal album, although the beats will be much more
mainstream and powerful. Vol.2 and Vol.1 had a very dirty and
gritty underground sound, not that "The Middle Passage" won't
but it'll be more refined, the flow will be more diverse and
the subject matter, well...it'll be more raw than the first
and second albums. Every album is a progression and this one
will be no exception.
In Vol. 2 you speak on underground labels and have later
expressed your disappointment with how some Indies treat their
artists. But with artists on some Independent labels still
eating without having to go gold, would you say that Indies
are still a safer haven than majors?
They're better but not much better. They pay a little more,
but more of less. They would like to expand just like any
company and they don't have the resources to concentrate on
more than one artist, major labels barely do. Then again all
of these deals are relative to what the artist is capable of
bringing to the table and putting onto his roster... Again it
all depends on what you personally invest into the game.
Who were some of the artists that inspired you to pick up
the mic, or during the course of your career, to step your
No artists, just people. Malcolm, Che, Marcus Garvey, Augusto
Sandino, Cesar Chavez, Ali, and of course Tupac Amaru but I
don't mean the rapper.
As corporations start telling consumers what hip hop is
supposed to be, the popular question has to be asked: Is hip
I'm here right n*gga, so it's not dead. It will never die.
Some Latinos claim that if artists like Big Pun were Black
and not Latin, he would have gotten the same props as artists
like Pac and Biggie. Is being Latino an obstacle in rap, and
if so, should Latinos address the issue more or remain quiet
and keep pushing forward?
I don't think it's necessarily because he's Latino that he
didn't get the props he deserves. Look at Big L, that n*gga
was a genius, Harlem's finest, it pisses me off when the media
doesn't give him the props he deserves. But it boils down to
record sales, Pac and Big sold much more than Pun and at the
end of the day and that's why they get so much attention. Look
at Soulja Slim and Freaky Tah, muthaf*ckaz don't even spell
their names right.
Now who's a better rapper is ultimately up
to the fans, but it's much more based on sales than on race. I
will say that it is much harder for a Latino to get in the
game when it comes to Hip Hop and bein' an MC, we have never
been marketed correctly by the industry. The sad thing is how
do we expect people to tell us who we are, when WE don't even
know who we are, our history as a people is lost and all we
have is bitterness, racism and a white man's version of the
Things are changing though, I see Latino
people learning more about our culture and becoming a stronger
people inside. But only when we control an industry the way
other ethnic groups do, can we use that as leverage to force
the rest of society to respect us and our champions.
Many platinum selling artists may not care what ethnic
group or socioeconomic strata their consumers are from as long
as albums get sold. Do you record your music with a particular
listener in mind? Who do you feel would benefit most from
hearing an album like Revolutionary Vol. 2?
I recorded Revolutionary Vol.2 as an answer to the media in
America, as an answer to all the nonsense I heard coming out
that didn't address what was going on with the post 9/11
world. I even explained the significance of each song so that
people would understand what I was targeting. As a
Peruvian/Black man who looks more Latino than anything else
and speaks Spanish fluently I knew that my people would be
listening and more critical than anyone else.
specifically tailored anything for anyone, I just said the sh*t
that n*ggas in the street were obviously also thinking. Not
just how f*cked up 9/11 was but HOW did it get like this,
where did those Al-Quaeda n*ggas get their funding, has the
United States sponsored terrorism before, massacres and such?
The answer is in the reality of Central America in the reality
of South America, in the Caribbean, Africa, and all other
colonized parts of the world. Art imitates life, I lived this
sh*t, I get harassed by Airports, Task force, Hip Hop 50, I
still live in the hood, I see the gentrification of Harlem
whenever I walk to the A train, dealt with drugs, robbery and
prison...I speak for those who can't, and I'm not the only one
there are lots of MC's who really care about their community
and don't do it as some sort of trend, or social pressure.
on a side note ever since I got the distribution from
Caroline/EMI I have had a lot more Asian, and Middle Eastern
fans and of course more white fans, that's Hip Hop and I
embrace that completely because Revolution is about closing
the gap on classism and in essence choking racism. But we have
to be directly involved.
Certain rap artists have stated that they wouldn't vote in
the presidential election because they feel neither political
party has the interests of minorities in mind. What's your
The greediest most money grubbing people I ever met in my life
were corporate conservative leeches. And these are the people
that are digging into their pockets to give the Bush Cheney
campaign non tax refundable money. They are giving them money
because they know that your vote counts, they care more about
their money than they care about life, and they are willing to
invest in us, in getting our vote by buying adds, propaganda
If they believe in our vote then why shouldn't we.
Let us become our own voting block, and build the type of
respect and power that the lobbyists for the bible belt of
white America have. People will not listen to Black and Latino
people until we make them listen, our votes will make them
listen, and I know we tried that last year but Revolution
isn't fought on one battle field, I think every hardcore
anarchist can take 15 minutes out of their schedule in early
Nov. and try to get rid of emperor Bush.
Have you seen Fahrenheit 9/11? What were some of your
thoughts on it and do you feel it will have any significant
impact on the upcoming election?
I have it on DVD... C'mon dawg I live in Harlem. It was
obviously a very well aimed attack on the inconsistencies of
the media and the Bush administration. It showed how corporate
money and big government are tied into each other, it is this
particular administration. It does a very good job of bringing
the message right into the homes of white middle class people
that will take the time
and can take the time to look up some of the information
GW Bush had recently attempted to tighten the Cuban
embargo. Do you think he's pandering for votes in Florida, and
should the Cuban embargo be lifted?
I think that sanctions work sometimes they achieve their end
result of crippling a government, like for example South
Africa, and even though companies like Coca Cola and IBM still
did business with the apartheid government. The economic
sanctions did in some way hurt the strength of the government,
this only happened after decades of turning a blind eye to the
belligerent repression and institutionalized racism that is
still prevalent in that white European ideologically backward
But in Cuba's case they are simply not effective,
they do not achieve their goal, which is to stifle the
dictatorship and to destroy the regime. If anything it makes
Castro look even stronger to his people and allows the blaming
of all economic troubles in the country on the embargo. Rich
Cubans exiles though are not just mad at Castro but at many of
the people who live their who see life better with Castro than
before, so they in some offhanded way believe in their
suffering, to cure "Communism."
But in all truth, all
alternative would have done for us, any independent force that
sought to get rid of US imperialism and give us our humanity
back. We had known about the idea of Socialism well before
white leftists popularized it, after all that was a reality of
a pre-colonial African and Indigenous economy. That is why we
had to be enslaved by white people, to be made to understand
the power of money how we could be bought or sold. That is the
best conditioning for capitalism.
The embargo for that reason
will not be lifted, if so the US gambles, on one hand, the
economy could fail and there could be chaos. On the other hand
with Cuba already having a better living standard than at
least half of Latin America's countries, a free market
capacity without committing to the products other nations are
forced to buy or produce could bolster it more, if a country
has the ability to say NO to certain overpriced products but
at the same time trade with the EU and other places it could
become a shining example of functional Socialism in a world in
which wealthy people though they were rid of it.
It would help
the Cuban people and inadvertently the Castro regime,
therefore it will not be lifted as much good as it would do
for the people, and is Bush pandering for Florida votes. His
people will say no, and ramble about how bad Castro is, what a
threat to democracy. blah, blah... Shut up b*tch, you bet your
f*ckin' NRA membership card he is.
Will the U.S. ever have a Latino president?
If we ever do he will probably be a conservative and our
people will probably be fooled into thinking that he will ever
have our interests in mind. A person's race doesn't matter
when they are controlled by religious fundamentalism (Muslim,
Christian or Jewish, etc...)
See, most Latinos as much as they
have experienced racism and other misery in this nation, as
much as they have been the victim of right wing totalitarian
governments they are not all liberal minded. Many have come to
America to escape the regimes that conservative republicans
have applauded as being the "cure for communism" even though
they have horrible human rights issues. Worse than anything
the US accuses Cuba of.
Still regardless of this corporate
marriage of the right wing conservatives and the American
companies that facilitate the dictatorial governments or
puppet democracies, Latinos are deeply religious. Just start
talking about Jesus (and since rich white people are so good
at doing that) and some of us see that although we long for
freedom (which was never about socialism or communism it was
more about freedom period,) we share many of the religious
alignments of the right wing.
Still though, Latinos are very
divided, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans on the East Coast tend
to vote for democrat very often and Cubans in Florida vote
consistently Republican even though neither party has bothered
to get rid of Castro. On the West Coast the divide is closer,
and though Mexicans and other Central Americans generally tend
to vote more democratic, its close and getting closer.
probably be spoon fed a candidate who is very religious, right
wing and doesn't represent any of the issues of Latinos beyond
a superficial level, family, work, and corporate interest. And
I'm sure unless people really struggle to expose that, the
ignorance of an uninformed public will accept whatever they
are fed by the conservative media machine, we cannot afford to
lose who are at this stage in the game.
You were studying Political Science in college, have you
considered furthering your education to the point of earning a
I still have a year left in school and I never had a chance to
finish, so a Phd would be a ways away and mad expensive, maybe
when I have some time off I will be able to pursue that for
myself. But that's on the backburner.
Name three people, historical or personal, that you have
the utmost respect for.
Yeshua Ben Yosef (Jesus) - Regardless of the way I see people
manipulate his image and his message I still think that inner
peace and a belief that God is within us is probably the
closest thing to God. The original sect of Judaism that
Christianity was, had nothing to do with the Romans, who
oppressed and murdered Jews, it had nothing to do with a
Church or a pope that was never written into any gospels
except as a deceiver in apocalypse (John). Timothy Chapter.3,
says a Bishop should marry, for if a man knows not how to take
of his own house how can he take care of the house of God. I
bet if more priests and Bishops could marry the way Rabbi and
Imam's do we would have less little boys being molested. For
the record though I am not a deeply religious man, I am not
fanatical about it in any sense... But I do study a lot about
the history of religion which holds the key to many unanswered
questions about the "procedure of speaking to God" which
people have capitalized off of for centuries. In the end it is
a tool that gives people the inspiration to free themselves or
it is directly responsible for making them slaves and drones.
Malcolm -X- - Elijah Mohammed was the man, but I don't think
that anyone understand the spiritual jihad of Islam in America
and the economic situation of Blacks in America to a better
degree than he did. Marcus Garvey, Sojourner Truth, Francois
Toussaint, Martin Luther King, there are many people who come
very close but I read his ideas and they came together well in
a spiritual and an economically self sufficient way that would
promote political independence from a white power authority.
My Mother/Father - They taught me how to be a man, and how to
be responsible. My violent nature and the street sh*t I went
though as a youth was on my own accord but they instilled in
me the values and the respect for various perspectives on
similar issues. For that I will always hold them in high
regard and I will always be proud to be their son and to help
out my family in whatever way possible.
Where do you see yourself in 15 years?
Hopefully still alive.
What can people reading this interview do as a start if
they want to make a positive change for their community or
living conditions in this country?
Read. The more you understand about this country and the
nature of its defining trait of capitalism the more you will
understand how to network. You don't have to be a dirty hippy
to be Revolutionary. You don't have to run around the jungle
with an AK-47 to speak for the people.
can be done as simply as being an expert in whatever your
field is and making those resources available to those
impoverished people that truly need it. Organize in your
community, become involved in local government, run for a
position if you have ideas about changing something.
Anything else you want to add?
Harlem & Washington Heights Muthaf*cka.
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