Immortal Technique – The Message And The Music (Part 1)

Originally posted at The Well Versed

In an era where few rappers talk it like they bring it, Immortal Technique is the exception to the rule. After dropping “Revolutionary” Vols. 1 and 2, and the Green Lantern assisted “The 3rd World” mix tape, Tech is living the revolution. TWV caught up with the activist and artist to get his thoughts on revolutionary work overseas, the upcoming midterm elections and holding President Obama accountable.

The Well Versed: For the people who haven’t been keeping up with you, what have you been up to lately?

Immortal Technique: I went out to Haiti and last year we did a project in Afghanistan. Working with charitable organizations. More than just the charity, working with people engaged in revolutionary activity. And when I say rev activity, I’m talking about people working to better the human condition. One of the problems we have in our society is that we rely on whatever is put in place; we lost that ingenuity. To say “this is a wonderful idea, but I think we can do this better.”

TWV: What led you to start out with Afghanistan?

IT: They were the first people that came at me. They needed me to help participate. I saw their set up was so good and I saw that it was more than one fundraiser I could help with. They were organized and dedicated.

TWV: You helped build a school there?

IT: An orphanage and a school. It was going to be a medical center too, but the medical center was already available at the United Nations compound. We were working with people that were not political or involved in the government, they just wanted to take care of people.

TWV: Did that lack of government involvement make things better?

IT: It worked a lot better. People were very warm and receptive of me. When I told them I wasn’t with the government, they were a little perplexed like “why’d you come out here?” they couldn’t understand it.

I can’t take all the credit for this. I just wanted to aid people who already laid out a blueprint. I don’t like taking credit for things; I wouldn’t have been able to do anything without the aid of the people there.

TWV: Is there any organization that you want to shout out?

IT: The organization I worked with in Afghanistan was OMEID International. And the people I worked with in Haiti were Arms Around Haiti.

The main idea behind stuff like this is to make people realize that when they buy a record of mine, they’re investing in an idea; something much larger than me or anything I have to say, but the actions that I’m willing to put out there in the world.

TWV: A lot of rappers have some type of charitable activities that we never hear about. Why do you think others aren’t publicizing their work and why did you decide to do so?

IT: Part of the reason I try to advertise is to be able to bring people to it. The primary purpose is to get people to donate or invest their time, which is more important to me than monetary donation. To get people to use their man power or woman power. That is more powerful than writing a check and sending it out on some impersonal shit. Not that I’m downing that if you don’t have the time, but I always like seeing people come out and be willing to dedicate themselves. I’m trying to reach like-minded people. Some people just use it as a tax write off, others don’t want to glorify that aspect because they’re big, thuggish gangster rappers because they feel like that takes away [from the image].

TWV: I wanted to ask you about politics as well since we’re so close to midterm elections. A lot of folks in the media are talking about young black and brown people staying home, what are your thoughts on that?

IT: I can only speak about the race in New York: Nobody is interested in seeing Carl Paladino become governor. It looks like Andrew Cuomo is going to walk into the governor’s mansion unless he does something incredibly stupid to fuck it up. I think when it comes to people of color voting, they’re a lot more galvanized because of the election of Obama. They’ve never imagined the possibility of a black president or someone with black skin being in that position.

People call him the black president; he’s half black, he’s also half white. He’s also supportive of every foreign policy in America’s expansionist agenda. We’ve moved combat troops out of Iraq, you trying to tell me that these soldiers don’t have guns? We’re permanently invested there. Same thing in Afghanistan, we’ve realized that we can’t just roll over people there because they won’t just lie down.

TWV: Do you think with Obama’s election that it’s become harder to get people to stand up and speak out against some of these injustices overseas?

IT: A lot of black and Latino people were happy he got elected and became quickly dissatisfied. Here’s a guy who did what no other president was able to do. He went to the black community and said “I’m not your president, I’m the president of everyone.” Imagine George Bush going to the black community and saying, “I’m not the president of black America, I’m the president of America, get the fuck off my back.” He’s conveying a message that I was elected by certain people, and I’m going to protect their interest. Thank you for electing me too, but your interests come second to everything else: I’ve gotta protect Israel and make sure this war budget is right and keep these troops in Afghanistan—I’ll get around to your civil liberties when I feel like it.

TWV: Do you feel like we willingly took a back seat because of the symbolic nature of his victory? Like you said, no president would ever go to the Israel lobby or the business lobby and say “I’m not the president of the business community, I’m everybody’s president”…

IT: I think there are voices in the black community that say, “Hey, don’t rock the boat, just shut up and let this man work.” Alright, that’s cool, but give me a time table for how long I have to lay off the president’s back. Obviously there are a limited amount of things that he can do, but I think people were expecting a lot more.

If he ripped health care out of the private sector’s hand and done something that guaranteed everybody free health care it would’ve been magnanimous. Instead we got something half cocked thing that people started calling “Obamacare.” He became the poster child for the bailouts which happened under George Bush and there are so many things the Republicans are using against him that Democrats don’t know how to respond.

TWV: What do you think it will take for people to realize that just having Obama in that spot isn’t enough if we can’t get anything done for our agenda or a progressive agenda?

IT: I’ll relate this to music and getting a record deal: Some people thought their work was over when they got a record deal. Surprise idiot! Your work is just starting. I’m glad we elected somebody that looks like us, now we gotta pressure this guy to work on our agenda. Believe me, everybody else in line is putting pressure on him. Wall Street is putting pressure on him. What did we do? Said, “That’s wonderful, we got our guy in, let’s celebrate.” Hell no it’s not time to celebrate. The work isn’t done yet. We need to go see him, make sure we have as many people close to him as possible, make sure that our interests aren’t being put on the back burner. We sat there and let our hands go.

TWV: The Democrats control all three houses of government right now; do you think we should look to third party solutions?

IT: There are third party solutions. I’d rather have a Democrat in office than a Republican. I’m not saying Democrats are that much better than Republicans, but they’re more open minded and less self-righteous and less clinically insane when it comes to religious fanaticism. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met very intelligent fiscal conservatives that I agree with about certain issues. If you look at black and Latino people by and large, we are more socially conservative. That’s something Republicans haven’t been able to capitalize on because their base is still run by—they have to appeal to a base of close minded and racist people.

I’m not hiding behind that word or concept. To say that America isn’t racist is just ignorant.

TWV: I’ve had some conversations with people about this: It seems like the only thing saving the Democratic Party is Republican racism.

IT: [Republicans] always have a mascot or a poster child. Not to denigrate anybody who’s there because they probably think they’re doing a good job. But homie, you’re a mascot. You’re not a real player. Michael Steele is a mascot; you’re not as well-spoken as Obama so you couldn’t shine with the Democrats so you got in where you fit in with the Republicans.

You don’t represent anything that has to do with America. You find candidates claiming they’re going to protect the Constitution and come to find out some of these Tea Party candidates don’t know anything about the Constitution.

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