Got no strings: Immortal Technique MP3s
One of the worst things I've ever seen is this 2006 Gap commercial starring Common. It's not even the predictable criticism of musicians shilling for a paycheck that bothers me—it's how downright clumsy and embarrassing the result is. Common's sanitized "rap" tries to equate Gap's hoodie with the hood, a connection so preposterious it borders on parody. And yet we see more musicians popping up with awkward product placements and ill-fitting ads. (I still shudder at the thought of LL Cool J "honoring" Jam Master Jay in a Dr. Pepper commercial.) I know that many musicians need to pay the bills and there are better ways of marketing, but sometimes, it makes me wonder if anyone is immune to the compromise.
And then I remember Immortal Technique, an un-Common rapper whose position on corporate dollars is as militant as his leftist politics. Case in point, Technique refuses to sign with any label, despite numerous offers from the majors, so he can keep his views undiluted. He also often addresses this topic in his self-released verses. For example, on 2003's "Freedom of Speech," he touches on Bill O'Reilly's war with Ludacris. "And O'Reilly, you think you a patriot?," he spits, "You ain't nothin' but a motherfuckin' racist bitch/ Fulla hatred, pressin' a button tryin' to eject me/ But I don't got no motherfuckin' deal with Pepsi/ No corporate sponsor telling me what to do/ Asking me to tone it down during the interview."
That's just the beginning for Peruvian-born, Harlem-based Immortal Technique, first known as Felipe Coronel. It's also probably one of his least controversial, provocative and potentially offensive stands, considering just how outspoken and radical his views can be. Calling himself a "socialist guerilla" and most closely aligning with Marxism, Technique pins 9/11 on the Bush administration, asserts Senator Paul Wellstone's plane was sabotaged, and that the United States supported the rise of the Third Reich. He also targets similar topics of race, economics, and sociopolitics as like-minded rappers like The Coup, Dead Prez and Chuck D.
But Immortal Technique is at least as technically gifted as he is ideologically spirited. He delivers his lyrics with a fury and drive that feel relentless, backed by sharp beats that don't fool around either. His flow, clearly honed via freestyles, features cadences that sound impressively simple and natural. His rhyming is novel and clever; his wordplay is often intensely creative. On Revolutionary Vol.1's hidden track, for example, he offers, "Using numerology to count the people I sent to heaven/ Produces more digits than twenty-two divided by seven." And he raises the stakes further on "Industrial Revolution" with "The bling-bling era was cute but it's about to be done/ I leave ya fulla clips like the moon blocking the sun."
Even without a record label, Immortal Technique has managed to amass quite a committed following. The continuing influence of his two albums, Revolutionary Vol.1 and Revolutionary Vol. 2 (released in '01 and '03 respectively), has thus far only stoked the need for a follow-up. A third album called The Middle Passage was supposed to come out in '05, but two years later, it still remains unreleased. Here's hoping that this will be the year that Immortal Technique will make his grand comeback. Because while he'll certainly be too radical and too heavy for some, I for one can't wait for these commercials to be over and for the real show to begin.
(On a sidenote, while doing research for this post, I discovered that Immortal Technique and I went to the same high school at the same time. All this time, I had no idea that one of my favorite rappers was that same upperclassman Felipe who ambushed me with snowballs one icy winter afternoon. That's pretty crazy.)
* MP3: "Harlem Streets" - Immortal Technique from Revolutionary Vol. 2
* MP3: "Freedom of Speech" - Immortal Technique from Revolutionary Vol. 2 [Buy it]
* Artist Website: Immortal Technique
Tags: Immortal Technique, Harlem, hip hop, Revolutionary, MP3