Immortal Technique
Rock The Boat (Part II)

Immortal.jpgAs an MC more concerned with government conspiracy and institutionalized racism than making sure his lady brings her Wet Wipes, Immortal Technique seems to have little in common with fellow Harlem natives the Diplomats. He might not have quite the same swagger, but in 2006 he’s hoping to prove that he has the hustle that Harlem has become synonymous with.

After his two albums, Revolutionary, Vol. 1 and Revolutionary Vol. 2, established him as a forceful artist committed to showing the bigger picture behind ghetto realities, he became president of his own independent label, Viper Records, where he just executive produced his new artist Akir’s album, Legacy. With his upcoming third album, The Middle Passage, through Babygrande/Koch, a DVD documentary called Urban Warfare and a “mixtape/album” with Green Lantern on the way, Tech’s rep is only getting bigger. Just before he left for the West Coast to kick off his 2006 Invasion tour, Tech took time out to enlighten us on what he has in common with the Dips, why the South is winning and what lies ahead for the future of New York hip-hop.

[Click here to read part I of the interview with Immortal Technique, where he speaks on major label deals and his proposed “Start Snitching” program.]

You’ve been working with Green Lantern a lot lately. How did you guys link up?
I met Green while he was still with Shady at this High Times hip-hop [event] with a whole lot of other muthafuckas that were talking about the way the government was set up. I was on that “fuck the industry” shit back then. I didn’t need them. I was only up to 15,000 back then. Matter fact, you guys gave me the Show & Prove, along with my nigga Saigon, right around that time. But me and Green Lantern were on the same page back then. We have a similar vision. I always come to the table with something outlandish and he thinks about it and is like, “Yeah, fuck it, let’s do it.” With the original “Bin Laden” joint, I spit the first verse for him and he was unsure if they were ready for it. But after I spat the second [verse] he was like, “They better be ready.” And that was that.

Why do you think Southern rap is so much more prominent than New York rap these days?
Well, East Coast and West Coast artists go diamond, which I haven’t really seen Southern hip-hop do [Editor’s note: OutKast’s Speakerboxx/The Love Below has been certified diamond by the RIAA]. Isn’t the highest-selling artist in the game 50 Cent, and isn’t he reppin’ NYC? The [only] problem is, in an attempt to market ourselves better, we started putting the hottest, most lyrical and most creative songs on mixtapes, rather than albums. But maybe [Southern rap] seems more out there because it sells better per project, so [there’s] consistency. It makes the industry push it more. That makes other people see it as a formula for success, and there are a lot of dudes—not just in NY, but especially here—who follow trends [and] have the same subject matter.

What subject matter do you think people would rather hear from New York?
With all that’s going on in the world, I guess people take that to heart. They looked towards NYC, which traditionally breeds lyricists to speak on it. When they didn’t see that, they lost faith. People are tired of only hearing the tough talk with no meaning, of hearing that you’re a drug dealer unless you explain some other dimension of it. So what you got guns? A lot of people got guns too, nigga. You sold drugs, who hasn’t? You did time? Me and few million other people have too. That shit ain’t a right of passage for Black and Brown men, it’s slavery. You’re willing to kill someone. Aight, so? Make it creative or get a therapist, nigga. It’s not that rappers are too “street” or “too raw” for the audience, they just aren’t talented—weak metaphors, similes that a four-year-old could come up with. I always hear “he got a hot flow.” That doesn’t excuse son’s lyrics from being trash.

What do you think Down South MCs are bringing to the table?
I mean, no one expects miraculous lyrics from a Down South artist, but them niggas ain’t stupid. They experience more racism, more government abuse and more poverty than any part of the country, except maybe Michigan and some [Native American] reservations. So regardless of lyrics, they sound hungry to express their pain. Sure, we hear the commercial tracks on radio from them, but the others songs have content. We, as the East Coast, are held to another standard though, by people like you, by the hip-hop community.

Why does New York have that standard?
Being an average or above average lyricist in New York? That’s just disrespectful to the very culture of hip-hop. Maybe there’s another factor too, though. The audience in hip-hop has another generation gap. There are kids out there who see Biggie and Tupac as old school. People who were five or six years old when they died. If you make things more simplistic with lyrics, then it will appeal to a younger audience. Not to disrespect the intelligence of the youth at all—I know lots of smart teenagers—that’s just truth. But the realest thing I’m gonna tell you about hip-hop’s Southern power surge: niggas ain’t making money like that. I don’t care what you wore in your video, what you showed up to the Howard homecoming in, what you floss in the streets, or how many independent units niggas sold out they trunk in Alabama or Atlanta. Let’s not sit here and pretend that the big companies aren’t the ones making all the real money. The Southern push doesn’t reflect the growing living standard of Southern people as much as it represents a desperate effort from record labels to salvage their sales, which are in the toilet. They found a loyal market and they will now exploit it to the fullest. Your imprint means nothing, nigga. You own no masters, you split publishing. The dollar amount that the majors get from the distributor is the bottom line. You don’t even see that as an artist. We’re all still slaves, we’re just on different boats.

You’re from Harlem, where the dominant artists right now are the Diplomats. Are you a fan?
[Laughs.] People sometimes forget I’m from Harlem and I live here and in the Heights. I guess that comes from being on tour 200 days out the year. I always liked the most fucked up raw shit that artists do, so for me, even though I like some music Cam and them put out now, the realest shit he ever wrote was these two songs on Confessions of Fire called “D Rugs” and “Confessions.” Shit sounded like it hurt him to write that, and that’s what I appreciate—from anyone.

They’re obviously very different from you lyrically, but is there something about Dipset you can say you relate to, being that you’re all from Harlem?
Regardless of if you like the content of their rhymes or manner of dress, something I think people overlook is the independent success that they’ve had at Koch. They’re independent with their main artists on major labels. Koch is $5 to $6.50 a record. Multiply that, and it shows you the reality of a successful hustle. Harlem is the Apollo. Harlem is Marcus Garvey. Harlem is jazz. Harlem is a musical Mecca. Harlem is the legacy of Malcolm X, that shuts down all the stores on his birthday until 3 p.m.—except disrespectful Burger King, [which] niggas had to personally shut down in 2005. Harlem is the hustle. I think if anything they just exemplify that hustle for anyone that takes a serious look at their businesses. That’s me too. I’m Harlem. I hustle, just for a different reason than most muthafuckas out there.

It seems like the average Joe just doesn’t want to think about serious social or political issues when listening to pop music. Why should people listen to you?
I think you’re wrong. The average Joe wants to know what’s going on, but it has to be presented to him in the right fashion. Even the biggest, most ignorant muthafucka isn’t gonna look at his six-month-old child with pneumonia and say, “Man up, nigga.” People act like they don’t care, but they do care about the world they live in. My music doesn’t just deal with complex political ideology. You don’t need a college degree to understand what I say in every song. The joint that made me famous in the underground—“Dance with the Devil”—is real gruesome. I’m not a positive rapper. I rhyme about rape, murder, torture, about the ’hood and drugs. I just make it relevant to what’s going on in the world. I relate it to the Third World. I mean, I’m Peruvian and part Black, but I was born out there [in Peru] and I never forget the people who are suffering the full effects of anything we scratch the surface [of] in the ghetto here.

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  • bluerid

    YO GO LOSE YOURSELF!!!!!!!!!!!!!IM WITH MARSHALL

  • http://www.myspace.com/n11dym Nadeem

    Cant wait for The Middle Passage.

    Ignorent cunts! Go do your home work and then comment! cock-suckers!!

  • NewOrleans

    He said some truth about the companies making all the money but I wish he would have shown the South more love. He didnt dis the south like a lot of other artists do he showed us respect but just not enough

  • http://nahright.com eskay

    >>he showed us respect but just not enough

    lol. New York called, thy want their ego back.

  • A2Z

    IT’s the truth!

  • cape_crusader

    One of the more intelligent responses from an emcee I heard in a while. I really wish Immortal will blow up, because that level of critical analysis mixed with ill talent is so needed. My biggest problem with Immortal is his gender politics tho.

  • KuroKensei

    Yo!!! KEEP TELLIN’ the TRUTH Brotha!!
    I KNOW where you’re comin’ from. I did the same thing going between the heights and harlem too. I’m out here in Japan serving in the military just to make ends meat, and I DO NOT RECCOMEND other brotha’s to do this shit!!! No LOVE for the REAL Black and Brown men…or someone who is mixed with black..unless you’re a fuckin’ Uncle Tom!!

    I also agree on how the sytem keeps shiting on us both brown and black..and I’m both..so that right there is a double edge sword against me and people like me. It’s time for all these dumb ass cunts to WAKE UP and see the TRUTH. Not just talk about how much money they make/have,how many hoes are on their dick,how many rides they have, or how many guns they have. The Hip-Hop artists today don’t talk about serious issues that are happenning today still ( with the exception of COMMON, The ROOTS, Mos DEF, Talib Kweli, Bounty Killa, The WU-when they were together, and not to mention otheres like Super natural, KRS-ONE, Slum Village, and many other under-ground hip-hop artists). The EXPLOITATION of us on a MAJOR SCALE..on ALL LEVELS!!!!

    Mucho Amor, Much Love, “Ippai Aishteru”(Japanese) to you Kiodai( that means brother in Japanese). Keep it up!!!

    KuroKensei(Dark Sword Saint)

    PS…Have you ever thought of ahving your lyrics translated into Japanese? If so, holla at your man sun!! ONE!!!

  • bluerid

    hey i want to hurt cam and stab him with a knife

  • Medina

    knife’ll prolly bounce of his pink vest.

  • http://xxlmag.com E-man (South c)

    Yo BLuerid “suck a dic” and stop hating on I.T. at least niggaz know alittle bit of him,I love hardworking Hustlers like the Rapper.Big up Immortal Technique.

  • REENO

    bluerid really needs to get his head out of his ass i like eminem too as do alot of people but having listened to the revolutonary one and two (which you blatently havent you ignoramus) you would learn something more than losing yourself in one dimensional hip hop. Like eminem is any where as good as he used to be when he was hungry. And to use just lose it in your sad little comment was poor couldnt you have thought of something more inventive or a better track cause it is still one of his obviously weaker tracks if you check his bibliography, wanker.

  • Flaboi

    It’s funny cause even after he said what he said about southern rappers, southern cats wanna get mad at him for saying the truth. 98% of the southern cats making stuff dont talk about black life and the struggle they go threw..And im in Fla so im in the south and My boys “CYNE” get no love cause they dont rap about iCE,dope,or killing a black man. Respect to Immortal Tech and keep teaching.

  • http://www.adi.nl.tt ADI MARKOVIC

    YO LET ME TELL YOU BRO,
    U THE MOST INTELLIGENT RAPPER EVER.

    KEEP DOING YA THING BRO.

    U THE MAN!

  • bluerid

    REENO I QOUTE YOU:bluerid really needs to get his head out of his ass
    ________________________
    HAHAHA IM A FEMALE MAN SOMETIMES I FORGET THAT LOL

  • Cal L.B. Rep.

    Immortal Tech. the best emcee i heard in a minute. keep it up.

  • tha turtle from detroit

    yeah forreal i.t. is one of the few real rappers left
    listen to his song “point of no return”…amazing track

    peace and love pplz

  • thekid8400

    That was one of the most insightful interviews I’ve read in awhile. Keep it up XXLMAG.com,

    “DON’T THINK! FEEL”
    -Mr.Lee
    “Enter the Dragon”

  • solrac

    yO big ups to the hommey I.T.!!! he keeps it raw…its that truth music…everyone brings a different content in they lyrics to the game…he just happens to present the world we’re livin in in the right way!!

  • FrediZLe

    I.T. is on some REAL Shi$. Keep Doin what cha doin PEACE!!

  • Gully_Foot

    “98% of the southern cats making stuff dont talk about black life and the struggle they go threw”

    IT did a song about racism with southern artists CunninLynguists, on an album that was compared to old GK and Dungeon Fam by XXL itself…& features Cee-Lo…IT respects intelligent southern rap

  • grapestreet

    fuck the south, worst fuckin rap in history, young jeezy, get the fuck outta here, the games the real shit, immortal technique down too, RIP PROOF

  • Anton

    Dude I.T. is the truth, while everybody wants to rap about how much drugs they sold (Rick Ross) or how much money they got (50), this dude is out tryin to inform the people on whats really going on in on and at the same time is entertaining to listen to. Hes really what a rapper should be…A FUCKIN RAPPER!!! Not a ‘Gangster/hustler who raps’ or ‘Trapper of the year’ He cant really spit without the gimmicks! Much respect to the dude.

    And if you need evidence of how nice he is, go download (legally, ofcourse) Green Lanterns “Impeach the President”!!

    P.S. Jezzy says it, but I.T. seriously does “risk my life just to talk like this”!!

  • Mozeek

    Immortal makes sense straight up and
    down!

  • http://?? MistaVega

    Props to Immortal Technique, his shit is bananas. I can’t wait for the middle passage, shit is going to be fire.

  • B-More Fam

    Immortal Tech is one of thee most lyrical MC’s out there next to Rass Kass on real issues involving the lives of the poverty stricken minority. He is one of my top five. Besides all that I have to say I can Not stand this mainstream garbage on the radio. All I hear is blah blah I got all the money – women – cars I can drive. Who gives a Fuck about what you got when I have to work a 9-5. I cant relate to that shit. I say fuck hip-pop. An now one of ma friends whats to get gold teeth in his mouth – nigga riddin south dick.
    Immortal keep speakin the tru meanin of hip-hop ma brother.

  • Saddam!!!!!!

    Aint noone got shit on you homes, underground or commercial.
    Big ups to
    THE RESURRECTED “CHE” GUEVARA

  • NatTurner06

    Immortal Technique is the realest rapper out there, hands down. Anyone who hates on immortal technique is a caucasian (I know thems fightin words in some circles but fuck it, I went there).

  • http://www.uk-flava.co.uk Ali

    Man, Immortal technique keepin dem bars real. Non ov dem rhymes bout hoez an dem oder cheap flowz. Like the fact u spittin bout the truth like The Illumanati and the Freemasons, wagin war on islam, dis da truth homie aint non ov dis a conspiracy. Keep it real Immortal Technique, Uk be reppin u up.

  • http://www.uk-flava.co.uk Ali

    point of no return an Dance with the devil, is their no end. Immortal Technique keep spittin da truth, the end is here.

  • L.R.N.A.

    Harlem World USA For Life
    Dont none of u niggas git it confused
    I.T said it
    “Harlem is the Apollo. Harlem is Marcus Garvey. Harlem is jazz. Harlem is a musical Mecca. Harlem is the legacy of Malcolm X, that shuts down all the stores on his birthday until 3 p.m.—except disrespectful Burger King, [which] niggas had to personally shut down in 2005. Harlem is the hustle.”

  • zombieniscent

    yer an ignorant fuck NatTurner06. if you read the interview immortals got plenty of white fans.and if you had listened to his music youd know his works against color coded bullshit. thats what got us uncle clarence the clown thomas as a replacement for the honorable thurgood (brown vs board of education) marshal. given a choice between john brown and step and fetch it youd probably vote in masters retriever. but what am i sayin this is goin right over yer head stick to yer coloring books its all u know

  • http://www.myspace.com/esk8666 ed

    rock the f*ck on immortal, support you all the way.

  • http://www.google.com hello

    All the rapper’s to day are talkin bout drugs, gang’s, beatin people up, women, or as they say bitches or ho’s, money and how many car’s and mansion’s they got.when i first heard technique, i realised that shit is bullshit, ok yeah you got a big house you got a big car, so the fuck what!, and now kids are followin this ‘hardcore, gangsta thug’ image and are joinin violent gangs, doing drug’s and pretty much followin a ‘image’, that’s makin rappers millions, there gettin brainwashed to try and act like what the song’s say, cos that’s what the media is sayin is cool, so if you don’t do it, your not cool, peer pressure the media and the rappers are the ones who have blown up the image of ‘gangsta,what kid’s are trying to be.tupac was a gangsta, but if anyone know’s what he was about b4 he died, they’d know he was tryin to get out of the gangsta lifestyle, and who the fuck wouldnt, ‘dance with the devil’, ecplains it all. but now today that’s what’s cool, to be a gangsta, so you got all these kid’s, who aren’t gangsta, just fake try hard rich kid’s who think they cool, cos they bash ppl, do drugs, and all the shit that rappers are rappin bout. but they aint got no respect for real music, or talent, and are to stupid to realize how fake they are.so lots or respect goes to immortal technique, and everyone who’s smart enough to not be brainwashed by modern day rappers image.cos immortal technique talk’s about shit that is real, is happenin and what the government are and arent doing , shit that matters…
    by the way, im in australia, and i don’tknow what’s hapenin in america, but frm what i hear it’s worse. so that’s where my perspective’s comin from, australia…

  • this world is full of mindless drone

    best rapper alive and he’s from my country (Peru)

  • Jermaine

    fuck him this ni66a sucks hes borin n all that itz all about dipset bitchez!

  • A hungaryan “fan”

    I think it was about time somebody showed up with an attitude and brain like him.I got addicted to hip-hop since 6-7 years and I think I found someone who makes hip-hop as I imagine it, where the message is (most) important.There are zillion MC’s that are talented and have a lot of experiance in writeing and freestyleing but i’m always looking for MC’S who use that talent to say real shit with real emotions.Big Respect to Technique from Budapest,Hungary

  • NEU.SENSE

    much love and respect to I.T. u r one of the most talented emcee’s in all of hip-hop with some actual intelligence behind ur words keep it up man u got my support 100% ur what hip-hop been waiting 4.holla!!

  • NEU.SENSE

    drop some knowledge on these ignorant bitches tech. HOLLA!!

  • Korean Fan of Technique

    Much respect for Immortal Technique. His music is truly influencial, since it got me questioning many aspects of this capitalistic society. Tech’s got me reading like the Autobiography of Malcolm X and the Communist Manifesto, who i would recommend for anyone who wishes for the wider view. Shit, this is probably the only emcee that inspired me to go the library and just read.

    Did you know Tech went to PennState University?! shit….

  • The Supreme Catalyst

    I’ve been feelin this cat for quite sometime now and the dude is the best. It is truly funny how these cats believe Young Jeezy, Paul Wall, etc. are true lyrics. I’m appalled at the very thought

  • http://www.xxlmag.com/?p=930 G/D

    I.T makes a lot of songs that really make you think. He also spits alot of left wing bullshit that makes me think he’s a throwback to the tree hugging 60′s days as opposed to a Peruvian guy that’s struggling to make it in Harlem. It is a refreshing change to the other more generic rap primarily heard on the radio, however none of his ideas are new and I don’t find his bullshit conspiracy theories on “The Point of no Return” to have any real signifance. His songs are good, but take him for what he is, a rapper not a goddamn prophet.

  • North Babylon Bulldog

    I ran across I.T.’s song because a video made to it came up on a website I like to visit. He was rapping almost exactly what I was thinking but never dared to say out loud. So I went here to hear him in an interview. This brotha is the truth. I haven’t heard someone this raw, this real, and this intelligent in the hip-hop world since the days of Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa in the early 80s. And he has even figured out the dollars-and-cents angle in the game, too. So he is not only talented, but getting paid correctly for that talent.
    Keep doing what you do, Immortal Technique!

  • http://xxlmag.com mtwizzie

    eminem and tupac are the realest rappers along with immortal technique..n all u bitches talkin shit bout drug dealin is fake n its not summtin to rap about.man shut the fuck up you fake pussy its cuz u aint did it bitch.n to that fuckin bitch made pussy grapestreet sayin fuck the south na fuck u.all there is in the south is murders,drugs,and gangs.n if your punk ass is to fuckin stupid to realize that then just keep your fuckin mouth shut you bitch.strait outta V.A. id love to see ya bitch ass walk thru twin canal in virginia beach or southside richmond sayin fuck the south the put ya ass on a flatline motha fucka so close your fuckin mouth.

  • newyorkhiphop

    immortal technique? lol yo bruh you can eat a dick for that comment you made on the south nigga. your ass is half peru and black. you ain’t no real nigga anyways so take your half black ass back to your third world country you bitch ass nigga. you say east coast and west coast artist go diamond? yeah that may have been true in the last decade but tell me what east coast artist went diamond since all this southern shit started? HUH?! i didn’t think so bitch! im from NY and these fake ass niggas aint talkin bout shit. im moving down south where all the love abounds pimpin. east coast artists aren’t neva going diamond now that this southern shit is poppin b. and kill ya self fuck nigga (grapestreet)!!

  • Indigo Kid

    To Immortal Tech.

    There ain’t a realer, truthful, hard hitting and intelligent cat out there. I know what you mean exactly about all this bullshit that happens each day.

    Let pray I.T’s message never ever gets distorted by Companies and the Government for their own benefit.

    -Indigo

  • Indigo Kid

    @newyorkhiphop

    Feel sorry for you and your ignorant ways. Wake up to yourself, beef and respect is nothing compared to the shit that happens to us everyday.

  • the truth

    where did he hear all this made up stuff about bush? did he make it up himself?

  • the truth

    and the southsides takin over fool dont mess with the h town souljas houstons on the map nigga

  • 2the truth

    and the southsides takin over fool dont mess with the h town souljas houstons on the map nigga

  • 5 minutes to tijuana

    its funny everyone talks about “west coast”, “east coast”, “down south”, “mid west”, like my spot is better than yours. are you muther fuckas for real? are we in 2nd grade talkin about our skateboards, or our gi joes? what the fuck is wrong with you people? wake up!were your from dont make you better than anyone else,how many records you sell dont mean shit, your still a human being. oh the south is takin over, the west is takin over, BULLSHIT! iant non of you motherfuckers takin over shit! you aint takin nothin over until your in the whitehouse, until you get an education, until you open your closed mutherfuckin eyes!!! quit hatein on each other and start helpin one another!!! so what if you part of the country is sellin the most records right now, your actin like its you! and if it was SO FUCKIN WHAT! if your ballin out of controll what are you doin to help your neighbors? you probably forgot about the person that lent your family 5 bucks to get your little sister some food. and to the people talkin shit about “color” of skin think about this, were not black or white were all just shades of brown, my skin isnt white, paper is white, my neighbor isnt black his t-shirt is and so on and so on. stop hateing each other see life for what it really is, if life is hard its because you make it hard, start takin responsability for you actions. noone told me to shoot the mutherfucker that stabbed me but i did and i caught a prison term for that shit was my fault not music not tv not shit but me. WAKE THE FUCK UP!!!!!

  • http://xxlmag.com 5 minutes to tijuana

    nat turner, iam “caucasian” and i almost guarantee that I”v been bumpin technique longer that you, how many technique shows have you been to?, do you have any technique records?, any technique records that are signed?, any flicks chillin with tech?, I do. the only reason I bring that shit up is because the bullshit your sayin is so fuckin ignorant that I cant believe you even know who tech is! and yeah if you bring your ass to east SAN DIEGO those words will get you smashed on!!!

  • ZeeK

    Although Immortal Technique talks about some real shit, his flow needs work. Granted that he is one of the strongest pure lyricist in the game but that fact is hip hop is more than lyrics. It is culture that thrives on individuality and innovation, more importantly the way that is displayed to everyone else. Parallel to the culture of hip hop the songs are a mixture of innovation and delivery. I.T. has a very specific way of talking about his message and I can appreciate that, but as a MC he needs work. Lyrically Weezy is the same as he has always been but now that his flows change up, he gets more recognition becuase he has become a better rapper.

  • gteach

    “Although Immortal Technique talks about some real shit, his flow needs work.Lyrically Weezy is the same as he has always been but now that his flows change up, he gets more recognition becuase he has become a better rapper.”

    -ZEEK

    u. can’t. be. serious.

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