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Immortal Technique - Essence of Revolution
10/6/04 - LatinRapper.com exclusive interview

 


 

picture of Immortal Technique

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 felony bid.

 

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 game up?

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 hop dead?

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 Christian religion.

 

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.

 

I never 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.

 

And 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 take?

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 and such.

 

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 there.

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 society.

 

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.

 

We will 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 Phd?

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.

 

Revolutionizing things 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.

Immortal Technique official website: http://www.immortaltechnique.com
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Immortal-Technique/105671392799107

Immortal Technique on Myspace: www.myspace.com/immortaltechnique

Immortal Technique on Twitter: http://twitter.com/IMMORTALTECH 

 

 


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