There are few emcees that consistently put out good music. In the era of disposable product, artists drop projects that are hot (or not) today and forgotten tomorrow. Immortal Technique is one of the few consistent artists and is hardly an emcee that floods the Internets with disposable nonsense. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. Technique is an artist who releases just enough quality music to leave the public hungry for more.
The wait is over. While his next full official album, The Middle Passage remains a work in progress, Technique returns with The Martyr, a free album that puts most commercial releases to shame. From the outset, he instructs—because it is more of a directive than a suggestion— listeners to “burn this for every single mutha f***a you know.”
From there listeners are taken on a 15 track opus that finds the Viper Records head at his best. The beauty of listening to an Immortal Technique album is that you’ll either a) learn something new that requires further reading b) hear something of historical significance rarely spoken of in hip-hop or c) a combination of both. Technique is like the super cool high school history or government teacher that teaches out of the approved text book, but tells you which passages are suspect and/or b.s.
Lyrically, Technique is sharp throughout, but the album’s features add an extra punch. Styles P pops up on “Black Viking,” and Slaughterhouse’s Joell Ortiz lends a verse to “Young Lords.” But it’s Brother Ali who comes through the hardest. On “Civil War,” alongside Chuck D and Killer Mike, Ali goes to bat for American Muslims, “Heard you need putting fear inside your heart, make you burn Qu’rans and tell me not to build a mosque. Me, my wife and babies we ain’t never made jihad, we just want to touch our heads to the floor and talk to God, ask him to remove every blemish from my heart..”
The Martyr’s standout tracks find Technique deviating from his usual style. On “Rich Man’s World,” he abandons the role of rhyming in favor of the underdog to assume the role of the corrupt one percent. “New money buys brand new carats, my old money bought your great grandparents…F*** the law cause real jail is for suckas, I go to country club prison you dumb mutha f***as,” he raps on the opening verse. The sinister, bouncy delivery puts this track among his best work. Elsewhere on the album, Technique tackles pop culture and dismantles traditional physical aesthetics on “Natural Beauty.” It’s substantive enough for hard core hip-hop fans with a mellow beat. If you want to introduce your female, radio addicted friends to Immortal Technique, this is the song.
While the album doesn’t break any new ground, it doesn’t have to – Immortal Technique was light years ahead of most of his peers, subject wise, from the beginning. Despite that, The Martyr goes hard from start to finish, giving old listeners a few more tracks to add to a “best of” play list while giving new ones a fitting introduction to a too often slept on artist.
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