interview by: Dana Mahr
In a world where pop culture dominates the mind, many of us are forced to forget our intellect to listen to music that isn’t relatable to a lot of the population. I’m really happy for all the pimps in the club, swaying from side to side, but I don’t like clubs. I don’t want to tease a migraine by whipping my hair back and forth, and frankly, I ain’t no bitch nor ho. But generally speaking, this is much of what can be found on the radio waves, calling itself pop-culture.
Then, there is Immortal Technique who can appeal and relate to a broad audience without the single use of radio time or, dare I say it, selling out. For those of you who don’t know, Immortal Technique is a revolutionary rapper from New York who speaks about political injustices on the populations, capital injustices on second and third world countries and of course, how much he can hurt you.
He uses a poetic style to reach out to his listeners, lyrically blowing all of our minds. Like “Just like the Spanish exterminating Tainos, raping the black and Indian women, creating Latinos. Motherfuckers made me out of self-righteous hatred,” from The Point of No Return on Revolutionary Vol. 2.
To me, what makes Immortal Technique so unique from your average “Soulja Boy” is that he will never sell out. When everyone else is trying to make a paycheck singing about money, alcohol, ass and titties, Technique pours from his soul in an attempt to educate the population and expose the lies that we have bought into by the government. With the proceeds from a recent album, Technique personally flew to Afghanistan and built an orphanage for local children. With that said, everything that is his, is his. No big name label is about to turn Technique into a painted puppet, when it comes to his music, he calls all the shots.
Here is what he had to say:
BYT- This is not really having anything to do with what I wanted to ask you but my husband is from Peru, and I’ve been there twice. It’s a really beautiful country.
Absolutely. Where did you go?
BYT- I’ve been to Lima, which is where his family lives, and Macchu Picchu and Cuzsco and all those fun places.
That sounds great.
BYT: Yeah, well, a little bit of a culture shock at first. So how are you liking this tour so far?
Ah it’s only been the second real show. The first time was a college show in Syracuse. It was amazing. Philly we got hit with a snow storm so half of the people living the surrounding area were snowed in. So that kinda fucked things up. But over all everything has been going pretty well. The response for the free project has been amazing. We got over 261,000 downloads in less than three days. The response is overwhelming.
BYT So when can we expect the next record (Middle Passage)?
We’re looking at early next year. I’ll be doing some shows behind the free project now, and then going out to Australia probably in January.
BYT: I was just about to ask you about that, from what I could see, your US tour goes to early December?
The first half of it,
BYT: So when does the second half end?
We haven’t decided yet because we still have to finish the record. That’s really the most important thing.
BYT: Right, and I’ll get to more of that later. So what can we expect from the Middle Passage?
I think when people listen to The Martyr, they’ll realize that the flow I have has been updated greatly since Revolutionary Vol. 1, 2 and even since the Third World. The word play, the lyricism, so I think that if anything it is only going to get more intricate, more indepth, more hard-hitting, more stories, but I think, of course, this is an example of previously unreleased material with some material that I have that’s new now whereas the Martyr will be mostly new material and then one or two songs that’s I’ve just been holding on to because they’re just that good. And then, of course, I expect to have fewer guest on The Middle Passage than I had on the Martyr.
BYT: Is there a reason why?
Fewer guests? Because it’s my album. It’s just gonna work out that way, no particular reason.
BYT: Can you tell me how much research goes into a single song?
It depends on what it is. If it’s something that I’ve been reviewing or something that I’ve been learning over the course of a few years then I guess you can count that. But it’s not like a research project, you can’t compare it to someone who is doing some kind of graduate thesis. I’m not in the library like, “I want to write a song about the prison industrial complex, I’m gonna rent five books!” It’s not like that. I have to see it and experience it, It’s something that I have to know in life, and then if I want to expand my circumference of knowledge on something then obviously I would look into it. But I don’t think I really ever, just decide, I want to write a song about this and then read a series of books about it. It’s more about something that really affects me and something that I want to learn about but already have some aspect of knowledge of and then something that I build on already.
BYT: Right, that makes sense. Ok well, switching topics, is there a rapper who influenced you to choose this profession?
I wouldn’t say just one. Do you mean more like, who did I look up to when I was young?
BYT: Right, yeah.
Plenty of MC’s like Rakwim, KRS-one, Cool G Rap, Big Pun. Stuff like that.
BYT: Are there any hip-hop artists that you have your eye on today?
Yeah, the people that are at Viper Records. Akir, Diabolique, Hassan Salaam, Mo’ Danger, stuff like that.
BYT: So what are some charitable organizations that you’ve worked with?
Arms Around Haiti, Hip Hop for Haiti, which we actually went down in Haiti to help in the reconstruction effort, we did a series of benefit shows. I also worked with Home Made International oMEID.org, I think something incredible important to mention to people when discussing that though is when you’re dealing with any human rights organization, or any charity, what would help them more than dumping a few dollars into it, sometimes what would help them more is dedicating some of your time to actually help out the cause.
BYT:I agree. I’ve always felt the same. Do you plan on making any community progress in Peru?
Yeah, we already kinda started that but I think that if you’re going to do that, seeing what occured in Afghanistan and realizing that I need people there, on the ground constantly to continue on what we started. Really, I would need to find a counter part of individuals in any place, whether that’s Peru, Columbia, Phillipines, or wherever. It’s just a question of finding people that are as dedicated and if not, more dedicated. But yeah, absolutely, I look forward to starting some kind of program more expansive than what I already have.
BYT: What do you have already?
Well, I mean, I’ve been trying to come up with this idea of…Let me save it, It’s not perfected yet.
BYT: Ok. So what are some global or revolutionary goals that you would like to achieve?
I think that I definitely would like to disprove this theory of lazy/fair economics as being the most sensible thing for America to partake in. That a capitalistic democracy really is just a stage of evolution of humanity. It shouldn’t be the ideology that we’re married to these people because all it does is create extreme forms of poverty and extreme forms of wealth. Those two aren’t really compatible with our species because they’re going to create a subsection of one and the downfall of the other.
BYT: I see what you mean. I think that’s actually in the works right now. Wouldn’t you say?
I think it would be pretty hard to argue against it.
BYT: I agree. Would you agree that the revolutions happening in Africa and the Middle East is a significant historical trend in the making?
There’s no doubt that it’s a significant historical trend, it’s just what will really come of it will define it more than anything else. If all the people of Egypt get this Mubarak out and then have a military dictatorship that’s in the hands of the United States now, then what real progress has been made? If the people of Libya have their “freedom” from Qhadafi only to have European/American companies come in and say, “Okay let’s put you back on the shitty currency system, giving you a world bank loan for countless of billions of dollars with such a high interest rate that you have to sell all your natural resources to us.” Then, the greatest significance of it will have been the greatest lie or swindle told to the middle East or to North Africa ever since the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, or the creation of the post World War 1 Middle Eastern states out of whoever was willing to play the same game that Europe and America was willing to.
BYT: Is that a general statement for all the countries? You did mention Libya specifically but would you say the same for the women in Yemen?
It depends. It’s not like the women are holding their own revolution. People are trying to rebel at every single level. All though I will say that people have specific issues that need to be addressed obviously in those places. Women, people who are struggling to not allow one subsection of Egyptians who may be Christian or one subsection who may be Muslim, to fight with one another. I think a lot of the in-fighting and the internal struggle adds to the instability of a government that could potentially come in and address the peoples’ needs a lot more. However, I won’t say it as a general rule because obviously, we have yet to see what other country is going to be targeted for supposed freedom with the backing of the west. Which, I will remind people that never happens out of the kindness of their heart. I think that’s something people really need to understand. We’re really not there to “help” people, we want access to their natural resources. If they won’t give us that then there’s no reason for us to be there. That’s the mentality of the U.S.
BYT: Generally people don’t help unless they’re getting something in return. Will current world events help to write a new album?
It could but it’s not like I would need them. I could write a new album based on what’s going on in the world so far. I could probably write ten albums based on what’s going on in the world so far. But I think when you have incredibly powerful world events it helps to bring the past into the present to show a direct connection between one and the other. So, it’s not like I would use just present world events but I think what would be important is to tie present world events to past world events to show people the similarities and to show the mistakes people made in the past, and what was effected. Hopefully to organize them enough to give them hope; to not just give up at the first sight of some kind of [obstacle], or anything that within arise within the sphere of the movement of that caliber. And by that I mean one that threatens to overthrow the power structure. Which is really what we’re seeing kind of here in America. People that are in those really high positions being threatened simply by individuals who decided to speak out. They’re scared of individuals and their freedom of speech; they’re scared of their first right amendment. They’re so terrified of words. Isn’t that funny, they keep people locked up with digital salaries and they hold them prisoner with fake media reports and misguiding. At the same time they’re terrified of them just speaking. It says a lot.
BYT: It actually reminds me of colonial America, being run by all the Puritans. Individuality threatened them because it’s not good for the community. Anyway, I really appreciate you talking to me.