Exclusive: Immortal Technique - The RAPstation Interview - Part Two

Immortal Technique Part II By Kyle Eustice As promised, this is the second installment of the Immortal Technique interview conducted backstage during a War and Peace Tour stop in Omaha, Nebraska. Although his answers may feel a bit long-winded and perhaps hard to grasp at first, there's a deep history lesson in all of it. After all, this is what makes Immortal Technique's music so powerful and unique. Most of his lyrics are focused on controversial issues in global politics. The views expressed in his lyrics are largely commentary on issues such as Marxism, poverty, class struggle, religion, government, imperialism, and institutional racism. His ability to tell the truth is unparalleled and while some of it may be harsh, it's nothing that should be ignored. Please visit http://viperrecords.com/ to find out more about Immortal Technique. How do you feel about democracy and capitalism? Like I said in [Revolutionary] Volume Two, democracy and capitalism are not synonymous. They've actually been at odds several times during the course of American development. Sometimes where democracy has slightly edged out, other times when capitalism has said 'ooh let me redefine democracy for you because I can do it with money.' And the ultimate tyranny in an example of economic success is to say that I've made money off of this therefore it's acceptable, therefore it's proven true, you know? The slave trade wouldn't have been the slave trade if people weren't making money off of it. The music industry wouldn't be the music industry if people weren't making money off of it. If there was another way to get gold out of the ground without taking advantage of miners or if there was another way to build a railroad without having slave labor. I mean goddamn, the logging industry used to be primarily kids. This is what we're talking about. The mining industry and those giant steel plants defined America. The majority of that is bathed in the blood of the working class people and I feel like hip-hop's story is to tell and remind the rest of America, it says our oppression, being unique in this situation because it was done by people who even though they were the same talking monkey we were looked different. And the reason you have not realized how oppressed you are as other Americans or European Americans is because a buffer was put between you and your owners. That's interesting because in an interview I did with Brother Ali a while back, he was saying that you couldn't really make any changes out in the world until you've made a change in your mind. And I thought that was very poignant because most people don't want to take responsibility for their actions. Most people only look outward and never want to look inward and with you, I feel like you're really introspective and you have a good grasp on what's going on at the same time, outside. For me, I always wanted my lyrics to be something that people could identify with, not just coming from the same walk of life that I did, but also coming from a completely different walk of life - someone who also never listened to hip-hop, for example. I wanted to make the message very clear, identifiable. Yeah, a lot of slang terminology is used, but I try to be as articulate, for a lack of a better word, and I just mean the enunciation of things; to make sure that people, even the decibels be raised a tiny bit on some of my vocals just so people don't lose the message. Even then people fuck up a lyric or two. We're playing telephone the way we always have. Do you ever get frustrated though, when you see kids who listen to your music, but they aren't grasping the content necessarily? They're just like, 'oh we've heard Immortal Technique is dope so therefore we're not really listening to what he's saying, and we just are here.' Do you ever get frustrated with that or are you just glad that you have fans? No, I mean that's like asking a woman how she feels when she sees a stripper, "you know do you feel offended that she's making money with her body and I gotta go get it the right way?" You don't want to get me started on that subject. For real. We'll be here all night. But that's what I mean. At some point everyone's going to have their own epiphany or they're going to have some sort of hitting rock bottom. Some people don't though. Well, then they have an epiphany or they hit rock bottom, and some people hit rock bottom for life. Some people will be in a position where they just stay eternally ignorant. I can't control that about them, but if I see people there and at least they're listening to the music then they're forced to confront some things that I say in the music and either they accept them as truth or they say 'that shit just sounds cool.' If they don't get it now then maybe they'll get it down the line, in a while... I've read a book once in a while or I've seen a movie that I didn't completely grasp the first time around then I'll come read it as an adult and I'll be like, 'there's all these things in here that I didn't get before.' You said that you grew up in Harlem, correct? Rah Digga lives in Newark and she's trying to build a youth community center to combat all the violence and poverty. I'm sure you see that all the time, too, being from the city. To me, I get frustrated when I see people not wanting to act and do something about it. It's hard to just watch all these kids just want to party and not care. I don't know why…and you said that the word "revolution" gets thrown around, well, I do want to start one, you know? That's all you can really do, is lead by example and things like that. I think you have to understand, when it comes to the history of revolutions, the beautiful mind and the idealist will write the constitution of it, they will write the articles of freedom, they will envision and explain how we're gonna get there, but they always need a brutal hand to wield the hammer that destroys whatever system was there before. We're now in a position where we're wondering when that hammer's gonna come down. Are we gonna be in a position where we do all this collectively as a person, as a country or is it going to be an institution that comes to replace this corrupt institution? I mean, at that point, we have to realize that we've had revolutions in America before. We had the Civil War. I think that that's a perfect example. You had a people that felt that they were oppressed, but then their idea of resolving oppression was saying that we're gonna go to war so that we can continue to oppress these other people. Not all revolutions are done for completely wholesome and humanitarian reasons and I think that that's the benchmark for them. 'Is this going to do better for humanity?' You know what I mean? The French Revolution claimed that the monarchy needed to be destroyed and replaced with a republic and that a civil code needed to be implemented so that people's rights were guaranteed. America said, 'you know what we're gonna do? We're gonna create institutions to protect the civil liberties of people all men are created equal.' But then that basic premise and tenet was violated from the moment of conception. But I would ask people to imagine, just for a moment, imagine if America had just been a place where they literally made everything what they said it would be on paper. Like if people got here off the boat and they were from Nigeria, and from Spain, and from China, and from Ireland, and from England, and the moment they stepped foot on this soil they said, 'wow we're all the same, each and every single one of you is the same and we're gonna treat you the same and you'll have the same protection under the law.' And the reason why that was impossible was because from the moment they stepped foot off that boat and onto that land they were stepping foot onto the land that had been gained through the genocide of the people that had lived there. So that spoiled the premise of the argument. You broke it down, yeah I actually never thought of that before. I've never sat there and imagined, 'like, what if?' I want it to be that way. I can't stand racism. I can't stand all of that. I don't see in colors. I don't like that at all. ***Stay tuned for Part III of the interview, which will be out at the end of the week.