Immortal Technique Interview – Promoting Rock The Bells

We got a chance to talk to Immortal Technique, who performs on August 2nd at Rock The Bells Miami. Find out what the craziest rumor he ever heard about himself was and also find out what he’s going to bring to the table during his set at Rock The Bells.

DRO: Congrats on the feature in The Source (pictured above) that appeared this month. That’s definitely a good look for The Source to recognize your hustle.
Immortal Technique: Definitely, I’m just glad they’re recognizing what we do and what I do.

So first of all, the current album, 3rd World. Can you break down what you’re trying to convey with the album and album title.
There are two main things that I wanted to discuss about it. First, no matter how bad you think we may have it in America, people in third world countries have it 10 times worse. The poverty and violence levels are like you couldn’t imagine. Its on a massive scale.

Then the second thing I wanted to point out was that the way first world constantly oppress third world countries is the same way that the major labels exploit the third world of hip-hop, which is the underground. They tell us that the only way we could be successful is to sell our publishing and to sign these 360 deals where we give them a percentage of the merchandise and the shows we do and where they control the politics we speak about and the music we put out. For me, that’s why I’ve always been independent. Hip Hop is a battlefield.

So how did you link up with Green Lantern for this project and really just overall how is it working with him?
Me and Green Lantern have been cool for a really long time. Probably around four years or so since around the same time the last album came out. We were at this hip-hop conference and after the conference, we both had a side discussion about a mixtape he was doing for Eminem. He asked me to write a verse for this one track called “Bin Laden”, which already had the hook on it. So instead of writing one verse, I wrote two and whoever else he had on the track, I guess he chopped them off. Then from there he put Mos Def on the hook and that was it. After that, we became really cool. Anytime he needed something from me for a show, or something for Shady Records or for a soundtrack, I was there. Its always been that underground relationship where its not a question about being “Hollywood” or taking notes about what we do. I can go to him and ask for a track and he can ask something of me and its nothing to get it done.

“…Some lunatic right-wing blogger out of Seattle accused me of sponsoring terrorism. It was utterly ridiculous. So yeah, in terms of false rumors, that’s pretty up there…”

I was reading an interview where you mentioned about giving back to your native country of Peru. I’ve got to commend you because you seem to be one of the few that use their position to give back to others, especially to those back in Peru.
Going back to Peru, its always just good to see the people out there. They’re very supportive even if a lot of them don’t listen to hip-hop. And it’s always good to go back and see family of coarse. But you know, other people have land and other things that make them think that they’re successful. But me, it’s never been about any of that. It’s never been about chains or cars. People use that to impress women. I have never needed that to impress a woman. Nor have I ever needed those things to feel secure. It’s no disrespecting anybody, but that’s just me. And I chose to make my investments in terms of property.

You mean property In Peru?
Yeah. I wanted to offset some of the issues that are going in Peru, especially in the Agri-business. For example, as far as crops, pretty much anything that doesn’t pass inspection is what becomes eligible to be brought in and sold into Peru. Everything else is shipped out to the estranjeros or to other countries that buy the product, which is usually the country where the owner of the land is from. There’s no legal limit on the amount that you can sell to other countries. All the neighbors around my property [in Peru] all take their food and their crops and ship it out immediately to countries other than Peru. And that’s not to say those other countries aren’t hungry too but it struck me as strange that there is no quota or requirement for people to sell back at least some of the crop to the people of Peru. So I do what I can to offset that.

That’s definitely commendable. Now on a lighter note, for anyone reading this interview that may not know too much of what Immortal Technique is about. Use 5 short phrases to summarize what you are about.
That’s very difficult considering that the music I have is firmly condensed among everything. But I would have to say:
1. Street Shit
2. Revolutionary
3. Hardcore
4. Introspective
5. Real Life.

I know the following question is overdone, but what exactly put Immortal Technique on to hip-hop?
When I was a kid, sometimes deejays would spin breakbeats over the radio and I would hear different records and I was like, if these people could do it, I could do it too’. So basically out of a childish game of freestlying to breakbeats on the radio, it began from that, then turned into battles and then into where I’m at now. And my parents were always playing music and being that hip-hop was so heavily sampled driven, all the older music sampled in hip-hop was already a part of my life.

What was the wildest rumor that you ever heard about yourself that was definitely not true?
[Laughs] One time we were in Chicago raising money for a children’s hospital in Palestine. We raised like $10,000 dollars for the hospital. And shortly after that event, some lunatic right-wing blogger out of Seattle accused me of sponsoring terrorism. It was utterly ridiculous. So yeah, in terms of false rumors, that’s pretty up there.

“…It’s never been about chains or cars. People use that to impress women. I have never needed that to impress a woman. Nor have I ever needed those things to feel secure. It’s no disrespecting anybody, but that’s just me…”

So how did your association with Rock The Bells and Guerrilla Union get started and how has your experience been so far on the tour?
Once upon a time they asked me to come to one of the Rock The Bells shows a couple years ago. They did that on the strength that me and Psycho Realm did a show and by ourselves we did about 3600 people and we didn’t need any crazy promotion to accomplish that. It was just us and a local promoter. And pretty much from there, it started getting around that Technique could come to town and just bring in 2,000 people on his own without payola on the radio and without all that extra bullshit no question. So after a little bit of changes in my schedule, the person in charge of Rock The Bells flew me out to do a small guest appearance one year in L.A. I rocked the show and they kept inviting me ever since. But it’s crazy because its not just the major markets we’ve been hitting. We’ve been hitting 20-something odd dates outside of the major markets and to see those people just fill up the venues to capacity is crazy.

So what can we expect from your set tomorrow at Rock The Bells Miami?
[Laughs profusely] You can expect me to be there and I’m going to be on my A-Game. I know that no matter what in terms of fashionists and in terms of lifestyle that people throw in hip-hop they still love lyrics and they love a live show and that’s what they’re going to get.

For more information and music featuring Immortal Technique, check out the following links: