Immortal Technique Interview (talks the N-Word, GOAT, & Eminem's Racist Tapes)

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 06-25-2005, 02:25 PM         #1
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Immortal Technique Interview (talks the N-Word, GOAT, & Eminem's Racist Tapes)
 

 
One of the most recognized names in underground revolutionary hip-hop worldwide; Immortal Technique doesn’t need much of an intro. Rapstation caught up with Tech for an update and discussion on topics ranging from Reggaeton’s relationship with Hip-Hop, Eminem & the N-word, The Masonic foundations of the US, the Greatest MC of all time...and a potential collabo with Public Enemy. Hold tight; I.T. tears through these subjects like they were competitors at an MC battle.

Rapstation: Let's kick it off with what's new with Immortal Technique. You got a new album ‘The Middle Passage’ and DVD coming out. When is that and what details can you reveal about them? Any special collabos that might peek the interest of Public Enemy fans?

I.T.: The album drops in late summer, and the DVD has been rescheduled for release after the album. That way we can include lots of new footage from the making of ‘Revolutionary Vol.2’ and ‘The Middle Passage'. In terms of PE, I did something short for their new album on a song that Paris produced, but I can't really say anything else about it right now...

Rapstation: You just rocked the Warped Tour and are about to rep hip-hop at the Coachella festival (April 30). Everyone asks MCs about hip-hop; I want to know what you're into right now in regards to rock or other genres of music outside hip-hop. Any acts on Warped catch your eye? You have a powerful enough voice; would you ever rock with a band? IT w/ Ozomatli would be an interesting Molotov c*cktail.

I.T.: I have heard that name but I have never really listened to their music (Ozomatli). As for bands on the Warped Tour I went around and listened but the music they played wasn't really my thing. A few songs here and there were interesting but I learned a lot about hustle and grind. n*ggaz had to pack up right after our show and drive literally 8 hours to get to the next place. That sh*t wasn't fun for us. Me and Akir, and my old A&R were not fu*king around. We got disciplined, and we saw how some cats on the big buses that just lounged all day took their spot for granted. Some of them were just like us though, nothing but focus. Non-Phixion was that way too. That's why me and them dudes get along; we have a similar work ethic.

Rapstation: Who would you say is the one MC who most inspired you to pick up a mic. In addition, whom do you view as the greatest who ever did it?

I.T.: No MC inspired me to do this. I did this because I could and because I had to in order to live. You try getting a job on parole in America. In terms of my GOAT it's always been between KRS-One and Rakim, but I'm a lyricist. Others see Ice-T ‘cause they love that pimp sh*t. People look to Biggie, Pac, Jay because they can't remember someone like Kane or Slick Rick; PE, RUN-DMC or Melle Mel. Some younger dudes and people trying to be sarcastic say these people aren't relevant anymore. But without their foundation and their insight this game would have no roots. Imagine a people like Black or Latino people without context for who they are. No history, nothing to make them realize that they had a history before slavery and they weren't just animals civilized by white people. That's what rap would be without the founders of this. I learn a lot from any true school artist I come across. People emulate the MC that reflects what they go through or something they have always had interest in. Lots of suburban white kids on the internet love 50 Cent, Dipset, G-Unit. These dudes ain't never slang crack or held a tech, they just like those rappers and use their slang that someone explained to them in a chatroom. Then again poverty has no color and some of these kids may have some fu*ked up sh*t going on in their lives. Some may have families torn up by drugs. While on the other hand some rich, black and Latino kids may identify with the bling bling aspect of things because they look at that as a reflection of monetary success. At the end of the day the GOAT isn't decided by race or by location; although people tend to show their area more love. It's a personal decision based on what you take out of the music.

Rapstation: Classism or racism? On "The Poverty Of Philosophy" you mention; "As much as racism bleeds America we need to understand that classism is the real issue." This sparked some debate on the PE site. Can you further expound on why you see classism as more of a threat than racism?

I.T.: Without classism racism cannot exist. Without racism, classism finds another carrier for its virus. The principles this nation was founded on, liberty (for whites) and the freedom of religion (different practices of Christianity); were something that comes from a Masonic foundation.

All the founding fathers were Masons who believed in God as being ‘the great architect’ more than the distorted ‘immaculate conception’ theory. Our country here has overcome so many early flaws and we always talk about combating racism (we rarely do). But nowadays it's not politically correct to be a racist unless you do it tactfully and attack the things about black and Latino people that you may find sympathy for.

Affirmative action and Immigration for example, are perfect ways for white people to express their evolved state of racism. But classism isn't even addressed. It exists and is the very foundation of America, the right of one to have much more than the other.

There will always be poor people around you; the world is set up that way, even Christ said it (Matt:26). Even in countries with a socialist or communist frame, classism is there. Giving life to one over another, not on merit of personal ability or human right, but simple wealth. If OJ Simpson was white, he may have gotten off easier and not been hounded by the media AS MUCH. But if he was broke he'd be another n*gga in jail that America don't give a fu*k about. Of course I'm not the final word that's just a piece of it, I'd love to talk about it more...

Rapstation: The N-word, some in hip-hop refuse to use it based on its history. Yet others see the colloquial use as a different animal; this includes Dead Prez and others deemed "political". Then there's the Eminem controversy. What's your stance on the word?

I.T.: I can definitely see how an older generation of Black Americans can find disgust in that word, it was something that white people for 350 years until only 30 years ago were not out of place to address a black person as. There are parts of America where you hear it a lot and not in a greeting form. In one respect it was used to dehumanize someone, to make them feel as if they were less of a man because they were black. As if black people didn ’t create the foundation of everything that Europe can stand on. I am not one of these people that blame America for all of the world’s problems. The European colonial powers ruined Africa and used it as their bread basket since the days of the Roman Empire. A word is nothing relative to action. I grew up being called that by the people in Harlem. "Yo n*gga pass me the ball"; "I got that n*gga on my team, he got a jumpshot"; "peace n*gga"...I heard it used both ways. I have had cops call me a "???? ??????" and this was when I was about 12. As for Eminem; being Peruvian with African roots in my blood I was disappointed at that sh*t. But nothing was worse than the white kids who tried to defend him. It IS possible to be racist and "have black friends" or hang out with black and Latinos. Racism isn't about white sheets, anti-Semitism isn't about being a Nazi; it's a subtle reality woven into our common understanding and it’s implanted in our minds from our raising. I use that word in my music, not ‘cause I'm part black but because I have always used it in my way of speaking. But the difference in my usage is that one day I would like to stop using it. I have begun filtering it out of my dialect ‘cause I wouldn't want to address my children like that. I'm Peruvian and Black. I come from a history of Indigenous people that redefined stone masonry, calculated planet alignment and a people who gave birth to the world. That word is too small to define one’s self once you reach a certain mental state. But I'm still living in the hood and dealing with real sh*t so when people act like they want it, I show them just what kinda muthafu*kin n*gga I am.

1 comments for "Immortal Technique Interview (talks the N-Word, GOAT, & Eminem's Racist Tapes)"

 06-25-2005, 02:25 PM         #2
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Raspstation: s3xism, homophobia & hip-hop. Why do you think these subjects have an uneasy relationship with hip-hop culture?

I.T.: Rap was never about disrespecting sistas or making women into objects; that came with the Hollywood imagery of the entire thing. When people make that criticism, I just point to it all being about the way videos are filmed in a movie-like fashion and what women are presented as there. If Gabriel Union is in a movie, if you see Julia Roberts or Catherine Zeta Jones or any starlet; they’re not wearing a fu*kin Burka n*gga. They show themselves off, those women in videos are rented, we just don't make that connection. Obviously there are problems. But to indict all Hip Hop on the basis of some rich, white record executive’s creative vision,or lack of and the proven sale of it, is stupid. As for homophobia, Hip Hop never embraced f*g**ts. One can’t deny that there are probably rappers, DJ's and fans that are mo's but I think since the culture was based around proving ones manhood; acting like a fruitpop isn’t gonna get you anywhere. But with this celebrity starved era; who knows.

Rapstation: We were born in the same "third-world" country. Have you had a chance to return to Peru since? What was it like to see the land & the people from the country you were created in after learning how the rest of the world really works? What would you say is the essence of Peruvian people. Also, in keeping with "Beef & Broccoli"...I'm all about Escabeche & Papa A La Huancaina...what's your favorite Peruvian dish?

I.T.: Peru makes the hood here look like Disney land; the air in LA smells like roses compared to Lima. Children beg in the street half nekkid, sh*t is real. The essence of a people is who they are culturally. Black Americans are more then tap dancing and rapping, more than singing, Asians are more than fortune cookies and bootleg CD's. We define our people by the most ridiculous things; Blacks, Asian, and Latinos (I could go on) are all people that have contributed so many things to the human race. The things that details who they are as a people shouldn't' be what defines them. Are we to think that to be Latinos is to speak Spanish and eat rice and beans or some dish, or maybe dance and hit our kids with a fu*king sandal. The essence of a people is understanding what you contributed to the world; what you achieved as a people and what you have left to contribute to humanity. Not to get deep, but that's it. Make money, have a great time, enjoy life, you only live once. Someone else said it best; you don't know where you're going unless you know where you came from. As for Peruvian dishes; Ceviche, yeah.

Rapstation: Latinos were there at the block parties that birthed hip-hop. Yet there've been; relatively speaking; few BIG Latino MCs in American hip-hop? Why do you think that is? Following on that; why do you think Hip-Hop was only a "fad" in Peru and didn't really catch on as it has in other Latin American countries.

I.T.: You’re a sneaky a.ss muthafu*ka, dawg you ask 3 questions in one, you should become a college professor. Hip Hop wasn't only a fad, it's still alive now, it's just not as big compared to other forms of music, in Latin America. Spanish rap and Reggaeton are getting a lot bigger; give it time. As for why we never made it since the beginning I guess we focused on DJ'ing, Graff and BBoy events, which is where we are still the most prevalent. That is undeniable, even the white boys that DJ look like fu*kin Puerto Ricans. I know this for a fact that Latinos are starting to now more than ever realize their role in Hip Hop everyday.

Rapstation: Reggaeton has a come a long ways from its early incarnations in Panama in the '70s to 2005 where it's evolved into the fastest growing sub-genre of music in NYC (Daddy Yankee makes as much per performance as some big star rappers). While Reggaeton is shoved into the Latin category; people don't seem to point out how hip-hop is part of its essence. And like Hip-hop in its beginnings; it's managed to grow without much help from traditional media. Why do you think this is? And what do you see as the future for Reggaeton.

I.T.: Honestly, if nothing changes from the way it is right now, Reggaeton will get pimped, prostituted, and become a caste system of labels and artists the way Rap is now. n*ggaz never learn, we might have a few successful artists, but everyone will not make it and the culture will become commercialized like a muthafu*ka. Some people see that as good. But with no control over the music you make or how you are seen as a people then you are nothing but a puppet. Reggaeton artists all grew up listening to Hip Hop, and I know a lot of them that have a deep respect for it. Others pimp that sh*t like people pimp Hip Hop. I'm not a prophet but that's what I see happening.

Rapstation: I got a friend from Capetown, South Africa who wanted to thank you for the shoutout on "Crossing The Boundary". He wanted to know exactly why you decided to shout them out, whether you know anyone there & are familiar with their hip-hop movement...which unlike here seems to take the power of the message more seriously. How's it feel to have people in South Africa blasting your words?

I.T.: I shouted them out because they played songs from my Vol.1 album, stuff I wrote while I was 18 and 19 locked up. I get airplay in the strangest places; Bulgaria, Slovenia, South Africa, Kenya, Northern Ireland, Beirut, Palestine, Tel Aviv, New Zealand; and I'm making arrangements to go to these places at some point after my European tour is complete and ‘The Middle Passage’ US tour has already been concluded. Any country that bumps my sh*t, just holla...

-Pick up Revolutionary Volumes 1 and 2 @
-For more:

-JC Moreno for Rapstation.com
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