Here we are November 3rd, the day after what was called the most important election of our generation. How does Immortal Technique feel about the events?
I knew that it would be this way. Not cuz I think I’m some oracle, but I have recognized the political impact of religion since I began to study American history, and to a much larger extent world history. I think that Anti-Bush sentiment should never be the culmination of the Revolutionary movement in this country or globally. There are corporate forces behind him and other officials and industries that have a stake in the way things are going. They are the ones who should have the light shined on them and be held even more accountable.
What do you think about the efforts of Vote or Die?
God idea, badly executed. What is the point of registering people to vote without giving them a clear agenda and taking a stance on issues. I met people who were motivated to vote for Bush because of that campaign. They thought “vote or die”, vote for Bush or get killed by terrorists…Without giving people facts and letting them be registered and manipulated by a mass media machine that the Republicans have more access to due to the larger contributions I feel like it was not well thought out.
Where do we go from here? Knowing that the country â€œsupportsâ€ Bush no matter what he has done.
We continue our guerilla warfare, mine is through music and political action, it beats just talking and hating from the sidelines. You make the changes you wanna see in the rest of the world in yourself first. And the country is divided still, it did not come together after the election, the war is still going on and there is still mass poverty and a messed up healthcare system. We should still do the math about the CIA and still keep a historical perspective about 9/11 and Sadaam. Shit in my hood is more gentrified, worse healthcare, racist cops, immigrants being persecuted. Nothing has solved itself. We have no choice but to continue the struggle,
How does this affect you and your music? Especially after Eminem did the video for â€œMoshâ€ which is basically a message similar to what you have been saying from the jump. Do you think people will scrutinize your message even more?
To me this was never just about one administration. I was rhyming about street knowledge and Revolutionary shit way before any of these niggaz who have turned “political” decided to express their opinion. I have seen it developing through the years and attributed our struggle as a Latino and Black people to some preexisting conditions…I’m very glad though that Eminem and others are speaking on these issues, cuz they are reaching a much wider audience than I could ever hope to right now. I respect people who have their shit together when it comes down to speaking out and putting themselves on the line. Whether or not it’s a marketing plan like some people hurl accusations of, I don’t care it’s still affecting change, I just think it’s corny when people think I took a page out of someone else’s book from this generation. I started out doing this without anyone telling me to, if anything people who knew I was tryna make it were discouraging me from doing it telling me that I would never get signed like that. I always told people to shut the fuck up and that I was doing this for personal reasons and fighting for what I believed in and the struggle of my people. People never believe that until I started turning down deals, until I had money shoved in my face and I said no. I can’t blame them for being skeptical, I guess nothing hurts people more than believing in something that they can be inspired by only to see that it’s fake. I don’t blame people for doubting me, there have been many expectations that they have had in Hip Hop that didn’t work out, they aren’t open to just throwing their trust at a new name. But with my hardwork and my commitment to hit everywhere, not just major markets but do shows in the middle of nowhere I’m gonna be gunning in 2005. I hope the people who love real Hip Hop and the people who support the independent street cats tryna Revolutionize the game will give me a chance to show them what we can do if we take the responsibilities of this business serious.
Well, on a brighter subject, congrats on your signing with Babygrande. How long did it take to get that deal done?
Months, it’s a distribution deal so there were lots of things that I needed in return for making it effective. The deal remains confidential but I definitely signed as a joint venture between Viper Records and Baby Grande not as an artist, the control remains mine as with any other project. Chuck Wilson is an ambitious and open minded businessman and we share different views on some things but we are both committed to the same goals involved in the project. I welcome other peopleâ€™s insight and experience though because I think that I can only grow from it.
Do you feel it will broaden your message to more audiences than before?
Absolutely, things are being done to promote this album that I didn’t have the capacity and the vision to do before. And I will actually do a world tour this time, meaning I’m hitting everywhere. I will assemble a small army here in NYC and set out on my mission East Coast, West Coast, South, MidWest…Europe, Asian, South and Central America, Japan and Australia. I plan to be on the road for a minute, and stay there until I have to come back and release the DVD/Mixtape that I am also working on. I take what I do very seriously in terms of dedicating myself to the artists I am working with as well. I have other people check my mail and my messages routing out the ones I need to answer immediately and such. I feel like the radio and TV buzz is one thing and the magazine articles reinforce that but what truly makes a difference is when you hit the road and make it happen for real.
Explain “The Middle Passage”. Who are you working with and will it be in the same vein as your previous endeavors?
The Middle Passage is journey that as miserable as it is, took us where we are today, what our lives would be without it can be speculated on but now that we are in this position we have no choice but to move forward. We passed ‘The Point of No Return’ on Revolutionary Vol.2…Now before we reach the next level Vol.3 we have to cover this. I have told people that it will be more street and less political, somehow this translates to some ignorant niggaz as me dumbing down my lyrics and talking about clothes and cars and restaurants…Look nigga, it was the industry we are in encouraged to dumb down our lyrics and our flow to expand our market to very young white people, not to our people. We understand the words and the use they have. I say it time and time again. I don’t insult my peoples intelligence or white people’s either by giving them some lyrically sub par garbage. I’m from the hood but why do I have to be about nothing just cuz I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth, I have a vision for how America could be and how Hip Hop could be, I follow that. My album will be more street, harder beats, more truth about the hood, more true stories, more reality, and less focus on what people think is the cause of the problems in America. Bush. He’s just a bishop, a serpent that moves diagonally. This album will speak on a wide range of subject matter and will be an improved version of what I as Immortal Technique have become.
Is there a release date for it yet?
Rumors were floating around that you and Nas were doing to do a joint together. Any truth to that?
I thought we covered this already. Somehow this rumor got started cuz I guess some fans wanted to see it materialize, I respect Nas but I don’t know him so I don’t know how the fuck that would ever happen. I work on my shit and I keep it moving regardless of whatever rumors float around on the internet, I have heard lots of them, that I got signed, arrested, that someone snuffed me at a record store…In the immortal words of Cedric the entertainer, “I wish a nigga would.” There was a rumor that I was doing European tour late this year, that I dissed 50 cent on the radio…ETC ETC Just complete bullshit. Sometimes it’s started by innocent people who just misunderstand shit. But sometimes it’s just gossip whores whose job it is to make shit up and purposefully create a problem. Rumors are rumors, and there will always be gossip, so I just stay focused on me and what I need to do.
How do you feel about Hip-hop right now?
It is changing and evolving, splintering and regrouping, but the part of it that is exposed to the majority of the people in this world is just commercial nonsense with no real message. I’m sure now that Jada and Em have had some success with the political commentary or rather a perceived success. (They would have sold the same regardless in many peoples opinions…) You will see the industry leeches, the marketing roaches that will be out there trying to have everyone make the “political track” on their album, the one that goes next to the “club track”, the joint ‘for the bithcez” and the “mixtape hood gun song”. More bullshit formula. Anything for a dollar, I think a lot of these people were prostitutes before they started working at major labels. Not that they ain’t now, they just get fucked with their clothes on.
With the recent surge of Che’ Guevara T-shirts flooding the industry as of late how does this make you as a revolutionary and Latino feel. To know that there are many people who are wearing the shirt because “it’s cool” or “cuz Jay-Z wore it on MTV Unplugged” without understanding the ideals and philosophy behind Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Do you think it skews his image and impact? At the same time do you think that it can make people want to find out who they are wearing and what for and influence them?
There are a lot of people walking around with those shirts (ironically made in 3rd world countries with slave labor) and they don’t have any idea what they represent, which is funny because in truth they have a duality. While they represent freedom and a global Revolution that our people have been held back from achieving…(I say held back because we didn’t stop these Revolutions, white people in Europe and America made sure that they failed, through a coup, covert or very overt military aid. In some cases all out war and invasion like Grenada, Vietnam and Nicaragua.) To some people mainly white Cubans he signifies the end, the end of an era. Some of the richest people who lived in this colonial quasi apartheid state of racial and economic aristocracy lost all their property. They used to have this thing in Cuba called “La Sociedad de antes”. Where black people “knew their place” and corporations from the United States used the island as an economic whore house, the best example I can give to the average nigga that didn’t spend half a year in prison reading countless books about Cuba is in the God Father part 2. When Michael Corleone and Hyman Roth were dividing up another country with businessmen from America. THAT is exactly how Latin America was run back in the day, and while Cuba is not a perfect example it is an example that the victory is possible, that under certain conditions we can succeed. This isn’t a black and white picture for any of the parties involved, some middle class and poor people have suffered, but the rich white Cubans who lost their ownership of the island lobbied and complained the loudest. I know Cubans who hate Fidel and LOVE Che, who think that Fidel had Che driven out and later destroyed because he sided with China in the Sino-Soviet dispute when Russia was giving Cuba a life line at the height of the cold war. I know Cubans who like both Che and Fidel but find the economic conditions in America much better to raise a family under. I even know some Cubans who hate both and have been personally affected. I may not agree with their global perspective on Revolution cuz none of these people are ignorant enough to tell me things were better with a puppet like Batista in charge, but I respect their opinions and I keep an open dialogue. I look at it this way if someone’s father was doing life in prison here in America what would their opinion be of the American justice system. Being a student of Latin American history for 15 years now I can tell you that Che is loved throughout most of Latin America, but many people here in America just see him as a figure who shot guns and overthrew a corrupt dictatorship. He was a doctor from an upper middle class European immigrant Spanish family with chronic asthma who briefly ran a clinic for lepers, traveled the globe trying to inspire worldwide Socialism in it’s purest form. He didn’t believe in God, and he appealed to the moral character of humanity in an effort to recreate what colonialism had social de-evolved indigenous people into, before was hunted down and killed by the CIA. What he did in Cuba is always best remembered, they have a higher comparative rate of literacy than America and even with an embargo, they have a living standard that is better than 75% of Latin America. But Che was in Africa, Central and South America and he had a very different idea of what Communism and Socialism was than Fidel, people usually aren’t informed well enough to understand the difference. Am I offended when people wear it without knowing what it means? No just disappointed when they don’t care and they think it’s trendy. Do I hope that they read his Biography the next time they have the opportunity to. Yes. There is an impartial one that takes a very strong look at him, it’s not from a politicized perspective just the facts….”CHE” by Jon Anderson. I’ve read a few others but this one was the most comprehensive, it doesn’t hurt to read anything that he wrote either…
Do you feel as if you are misunderstood as not only an emcee but as a person?
Not really, I think only really ignorant people don’t understand blatant sarcasm and the concept of an analogy. And truthfully speaking while no one ever went broke underestimating the ignorance of the American public…I think people get it. They just would like to see me prove it again and again. Sometimes people think I’m trying to be overly critical and “radical”, but the idea of being radical is just an excuse for people to not take the words that are being used and the factual information in the song as serious. They are used to system that has used a very subtle propaganda to solidify and disgusting sense of apathy and complacency in America. People are satisfied with owning a big piece of nothing. We use words like freedom, liberty, compassion, God, brotherhood, peace and terrorism out of context and without any real understanding of what they mean. The facts laid down on Vol.2 are real, I’m sorry if that fucks up your moderate or conservative view about what America is and how it started but it isn’t my job to permeate a lie and market that. If you want that sort of reporting just turn on Fox news and dumb out.
What is your purpose and goal as an emcee/visionary?
I am building something. That’s what a Master builder does. And while I am not yet when this is complete I will be on my way. And I needed no one to confirm that for me I mastered the numbers myself. Revolution is born in people everyday.
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