Some performers entertain; Immortal Technique instigates. With social unrest erupting both at home and abroad, listening to Immortal Technique’s music is like pouring fuel on the fires of the coming Resistance. This feeling of defiant opposition was even more present last week when I had attended one of his concerts in Eugene, Oregon. The concert, which was supplemented by performances from DJ G.I. Joe, Da Circle, and Chino XL, exemplified everything I miss about Hip-hop as an art form.
It may come as a surprise to some of those who know me personally, but when I was little I used to get bootlegged cassette tapes full of Hip-hop that I savored for months on end and I only became a Metalhead later on. Many years later, in the wake of 9-11, the USA Patriot Act, and the initiation of what would be the longest war in the history of our nation, I realized that the American Dream was a lie that I would forever more refuse to be a part of.
Until sometime in the early 1990’s, Hip-hop was as much an ideology as a hobby. Hip-hop artists were cultural ambassadors, fighting against injustices and the forces of social oppression. However, (perhaps because it was seen as such a threat to White America) the voice of Hip-hop was co-opted by the establishment and transformed so radically that it was almost unrecognizable. Songs such as “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five gave way to rap songs like “6’n The Mornin'” by Ice-T. Acts like KRS-One are replaced by hacks like rappers 50 Cent and Lil Wayne. And before anybody even knew what happened, the means of empowerment became just another means of control from which wealthy businessmen could make money.
Luckily such things never last long. You can’t destroy the Underground, and lately there is a resurgence in Hip-hop happening that gives me hope for a better tomorrow. Last week’s show made me feel powerful in ways that are hard to describe. For one, the level of intimacy and energy was incredible. There was a feeling of being one with the music that rivals (dare I say it?) most Metal shows I have ever attended. Both the crowd as well as the performers put their entire hearts into the experience, and afterward there remained a genial and heartfelt vibe as both Immortal Technique and the members of Da Circle and Chino XL handed out free autographs.
As I left the venue, I felt in my heart a bittersweet feeling because I knew it would be a long, long time before I got to feel this feeling again. I just hope that when that time comes, more people will have awakened such as I did and that the seeds of the Resistance will start to bear fruit. Until then, I leave you with this small interview with the prophet himself.
I hear lots about the way that some labels just exploit their talent for profit and it disgusts me. On the other hand, I hear you've turned down some major record label deals on principle,which takes a lot of integrity! But I have to ask, where do you see the music industry going?
I think that they're in complete retreat right now. I think they're banking everything on the cloud and they're hoping that it somehow saves the industry. What they want to do is sell them a cloud locker on their phone so when they apply for a digital phone plan they have access to music on their phone. I've heard so many explanations of the way they're trying to save their own ass, but the bottom line is if they really wanna save themselves what they need to do is actually recruit real talent and not just pawns that they can move around however they want to. They're going to have to come the fuck up off of their old ways, the game has to change; and they have to change with it. A 360 deal didn't have to be the rape-fest that they made it to be, they made it that way. You know, it could've been a sharing process of communal profit. But instead they made it into an artistic leech.
If a revolution were to happen here in America, how would it start?
It would start in your mind before it started anywhere else; before it started with guns and bats in the street, it would start with people just realizing how disenfranchised they are. It would start with people realizing how many rights they have been deprived of. It would start with people coming to terms with the fact that we have more things in common than we do apart. And that we have been purposefully kept apart from one another, that we've been purposefully pitted against each other to the benefit of those powerful. That's how it's how it starts.
Thank you so very much for your time, Tech. It's been a great experience and we need more people like you.
Thanks for the support. ...Keep your eyes open.
His latest album, "The Martyr", is available completely free, directly from the artist at Viper Records.