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IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE: UNDYING METHOD Part 1 of 3

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Bed-Stuy Brooklyn. Million Youth March. A Che Guevara of an emcee laces the crowd with politically astute, precision-crafted punch lines delivered with a veteran performer’s polish and timing. Along the way, he tears a new anus in the mindscapes of the assembled mass, ending his set by telling the crowd to put a middle finger to the sky in order to send a proper greeting to the C.I.A. spy satellites. The emcee is Immortal Technique.

Harlem USA. Five Percenter National Headquarters. In the next room some “older gods” are engaged in a lively debate on Osama Bin Laden as a direct result of the cover art on Immortal Technique’s “Revolutionary: Vol. 2.” Immortal is in his glory. The heated conversation is precisely what Immortal sees as one of his primary objectives. “In terms of my political stance and where I want to stand and the way I’d like to be remembered; I am the spirit of argument and discussion. The album was created itself to create a discussion since all discussions were being knocked off the board; since people didn’t want to discuss anything,” says Immortal. “Making music is one thing but when you’re involved in direct action that’s a whole ‘nother story. If your music can influence direct action then that speaks to great lengths about what type of music you make.”

Indeed, while the album’s cover art alone is enough to raise eyebrows, raise questions and get people to raise their voices in debates that may raise the level of consciousness, Immortal Technique’s “Revolutionary: Vol. 2” embodies a work of artistic innovation in direct opposition to the current course of commercialized Hiphop cultural product.

“The bling-bling era was cute but it’s about to be done

I leave ya’ full of clips, like the moon blocking the sun”

Industrial Revolution –Immortal Technique

From the album’s introduction by Mumia Abu-Jamal and the opening cut “The Point of Return” you know that you’ve left Kansas far behind and this is a Hiphop world akin to something George Orwell would have penned. “Peruvian Cocaine” shoots the concept of the posse cut to a next level with each of the seven emcees adding a thread to the narrative of the path cocaine travels to reach the city streets. The story starts with the rural field worker and moves from druglord to C.I.A. operatives and crooked cops all playing their position in the pipeline. Songs like “Obnoxious” show that even Immortal’s most outrageous concepts and battle rhymes take a stance and make a political statement. The jewel of the album “Industrial Revolution” is a treatise on changing the game featuring scratches courtesy of Dj RocRaida that makes that Roc La Familia track off “The Dynasty” album lackluster in comparison.

“Revolutionary: Vol. 2” is a dizzying array of aggressively, yet accurately articulated adjectives and mind melting metaphors that elicit ecstasy from the ear and epiphanies from the mind. Track after track of critical compositions pry into our apathy and awaken the side of Hiphop within us that was implanted by Public Enemy and recently only fed by a handful of artists like dead prez. Immortal Technique’s undying method quenches the parched throat of the consumer in ways that your average neo-soul, wheat-grass wielding wordsmith can never attain. “Immortal Technique is the warlord of raw dog,” he says of himself. “ I put it out there. Facts. I put out street knowledge. Immortal Technique is the truth.”

Immortal’s hardcore righteous with emphasis on the streets and brolic beats is a welcome departure from the incense and oils that dominate the so-called progressive wing of rap music. His battle aesthetic puts him in a league above all other extraordinary gentlemen. “Revolutionary: Vol. 2” epitomizes what KRS-ONE meant when he coined the term “edutainment.” It’s hilarious and a history lesson. Lyrics that make you press rewind on the tape deck but also echo in your mind. As you listen you are intellectually injected with a wealth of information and the rhyme animal within gets to feel the rush of well-crafted wordplay.

“My metaphors are dirty like herpes but harder to catch

Like an escape tunnel in prison I started from scratch”

Industrial Revolution –Immortal Technique

Immortal’s journey began when he was nine years old, spitting his early rhymes to break beats on the radio and as time progressed his abilities grew from there. “Little by little I realized I could do this,” says Immortal. “At first I didn’t take it seriously at all. It was more of a recreational thing. Having fun.” Back then Immortal says that he was more involved in “reprehensible behavior” and whylin’ out but he was already moving in a determined direction. “There was this one time rhyming with my peoples and the freestlyle just took over and it was just like it was someone else I felt like, but it was really me. It was like I was opening up my eyes and being like wow I can really do this a whole lot better than I thought I could, and then I sat down and started writing rhymes and the rhymes that I wrote were concise and they followed a certain point and I was like cool, this is real. This is more real than I expected it to be.

“As I started putting the words together it was more of a hardcore sense ‘cause I was still going through that youthful phase where you want to fight the world and where everything just seems to be against you and when you walk through the hood, not only the police but your own people. So its like a lot of people develop that warrior mentality but without no direction. That’s really the issue I see out there in the street.”

A turning point occurred when police arrested a friend and Immortal was also detained when he foolishly acted against the cops in a youthful attempt to defend his companion. “Just down in the tombs. Me and my boy back to back and yo’ right there it reminded me so much of a slave ship. Everybody packed in to their shoulders, being fed the most disgusting food in the world and having guards act like the overseer. It started me thinking about different types of government rather than the type of government that they say we live in now. I started really researching what it is to be an oligarchy; what it is to be a plutocracy; what it is to be an economic aristocracy rather than it is to be a democracy, a capitalist democracy, instead of a socialist democracy ‘cause there’s all types of government however people want to define it is one thing, but what it is in practice is another thing.

“I started going to the library. I started reading books that I bought off the street. I just had a thirst for knowledge ‘cause I saw how ignorant our people were and how ignorant I was it was almost as if I glanced at myself and I said you could be so much more than this. As I started to travel, I went back to South America. I started realizing what was really going on in the world. I started walking through the hood and really looking at it. ‘Cause I think a lot of people live in the hood and never really understand the place they live. So I started understanding the hood. I started to see it for what it was, ‘cause anybody can rhyme about selling crack, anybody can sell crack, anybody can hold a gun, but to understand why they sell, how the guns get to you, how the drugs get to the community, why in certain instances they’re placed inside the community, the fact that they’re allowed to be in certain places and the fact that they’re depicted as almost the culture of a people and in other places they are depicted as being something people suffer from… Anybody can live life, but to discover the meaning of life is another dimension of living.”

Immortal’s evolution was far from complete. After High School, Immortal was off to college, but he says he was a wild kid with a stupid attitude and he took that negative energy away with him. In the end, he went from attending class at Penn State to doing time in the state pen. His reckless behavior led to year in a Pennsylvania prison. “It wasn’t like I became intelligent in prison. I was already there. I was already reading before I went. I knew that I was going to do a bullet a year before I went up. At that point, I started reading a lot more. Before it was a book a month, then it was three books a month and then it was like when I was locked up I read “Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life” John Anderson biography [an 800-plus page book] in like two days; speed reading. That’s what I trained myself to be. You can train yourself to be anything.”

Immortal slips from topic to topic in his convo as easily as he does on his songs, changing lanes on the discussion highway mid-sentence. “When I got out, I was trying to go back to college and all that, but I had been writing so much in jail and I had been battling kids in there and in there it was so much more of a respect thing then about winning $500 dollars at Braggin’ Rites or winning a jacket at Rock Steady or Blaze Battle. It spoke about who you were for somebody to be like ‘yo that Nigga’s nice.’ So when I came back I entered the battle scene immediately. I was probably about a week and a half out when I said: You know what. Not only is this a good thing in order to get my name known but in the long run people will look at me and say that kid paid his dues. He wasn’t just some gimmick that labels said ‘Eh, Yo let’s sign this kid.’ To me, the label is the gimmick not the artist. You the gimmick. You the motherfucker that got to hire the PR people and do the retail marketing. You do the gimmicks for me, all right, White man. Or get your little Black lackey House Nigga that work at the label to do it for you because I don’t have time for that. I have to present who I really am.”

End of Part 1 of 3

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