Locey: Hip-hop fury Immortal Technique will vent about world problems in Ventura
By Bill Locey -- Thursday, August 7, 2008
If you're not absolutely livid with the current state of affairs on Planet Earth, then you're not paying attention. Hip-hop heavyweight Immortal Technique will do his part to right global wrongs when he performs an evening of politically charged rap Tuesday night at the Majestic Ventura Theatre.
The rapper, of Peruvian-African descent, was 12 when he moved to Harlem with his family. Life wasn't easy for the young Felipe Coronel, and he wound up in prison several times. His raps, rants really, don't dwell on mindless gang glorification. Instead, they focus on police brutality, corporate economic warfare against Central and South America, and the war on terror. The song "Bin Laden'' recalls the days when the terrorist leader worked for us in Afghanistan. Another track, "The Cause of Death,'' doesn't expressly blame George Bush for 9/11, but it makes a case that the neo-con agenda clearly profited from this catastrophe.
This is angry protest music driven by events in the real world. Noam Chomsky readers and Air America listeners will appreciate where I.T. is coming from.
What's the latest in I.T. world?
I'm in Orlando right now, getting ready to do a show tonight. Tomorrow, I have a show in Miami.
What's your secret to surviving that endless road trip?
A series of things, you know, but most of all, you have to have patience, pace yourself, and you have to get lots of sleep.
To tell the truth, I don't like rap, but as I was walking by your show at Coachella a few years ago, I ended up staying for the whole set.
I appreciate that, man. We have a really do-it-yourself attitude. We don't mind staying in bleepy hotels as long as we can get six or seven hours of sleep.
What sets you apart from the basic rappers?
Subject matter . that's pretty much where it starts. I wanted to expand the topics that are typically discussed in hip-hop and since the world is not short of any suffering or any controversy or conspiracy or what have you, I felt the need to discuss some things that other people might not want us to know about. Hip-hop needs that.
You were probably too young, but what has the drug trade done to Peru?
I don't remember too much because I left when I was very young, but I would say the drug trade affected Peru in two ways. It definitely corrupted government offices, and it corrupted whatever revolutionary forces that were fighting for independence from U.S. influences. The power balances are so fueled by the economic situation that millions and millions, if not billions, of dollars in illegal drug money definitely upset the power balance in the whole geopolitical atmosphere.
Did you learn anything in jail?
I learned patience, learned a lot of patience, and I learned your real friends will be with you while you're in there and when you're out.
What's the story on your "Bin Laden" song?
DJ Green Lantern actually put that together . put together the hook and everything . and originally I thought that it was kind of crazy, but the beat was hot and he wanted a verse. He called me one day and said, "Hey, I need a verse.'' When he called back the next day, I had two verses and he said, "Beautiful. Let's run with this.'' So now, here we are three or four years later and it became a mix tape classic that people love. So it was incredible and whether or not people agree with the hook, the lyrics are, pretty much, indisputable in terms of what we talk about. We gave Saddam Hussein weapons of mass destruction to fight against Iran.
Once upon a time, Osama bin Laden and the Taliban were our boys in Afghanistan.
Absolutely. And if America were ever invaded, I'm pretty sure there would be loyal people from this nation fighting with whatever means necessary, and I would venture to say that suicide bombing would not be ruled out. I think anyone loyal to their nation would take whatever steps available to do what they have to do in order to ensure their sovereignty, their freedom and the continuation of their struggle. And that does not reflect barbarism or low morality as much as it reflects pure desperation.
Did the "Cause of Death'' song cause even more trouble?
No, I wouldn't say it caused more trouble. In the song, I didn't say that Bush did it because he isn't that smart, but he definitely had an economic agenda on the table right after 9/11. The price of gold shot up. People got paid on the insurance for the buildings, and I think the military industrial complex has profited from all this fear.
Is your crowd up for all this?
I think the crowd I get is definitely open-minded and from very diverse backgrounds. I think a lot of them already know a lot and others come fresh wanting to learn. I tell them you gotta do more than read "Beyond the Pale Horse'' and watch some videos on YouTube about secret societies before you can understand American politics or world history. It's a very complicated process.
What's the most misunderstood thing about you?
That I'm not an absolutist. I'm more than willing to confront any contradictions that may come to light about something I've said or something I've done and correct that. That's a point of growing.
Exactly. Learning is not flip-flopping. Any extra weird gigs you can mention in a family newspaper?
Wow. A fashion show in bleepin' Long Island.
Any advice for the next generation?
If this is what you want to do for the rest of your life, get ready to suffer . that's my advice. If you really want to be successful, you have to work your (butt) off. They say you measure success not by what you achieve, but by what you have to sacrifice to get what you want.
. E-mail music writer Bill Locey at firstname.lastname@example.org.