This week we have posted two parts of our exclusive interview with Immortal Technique. In these interviews Tech has discussed his method for writing music, the effort it takes to self-produce an album, his views on global politics and current events, and insight into the creation of his upcoming album, The 3rd World. In this final segment, Tech talks about music revenue, the remix culture and the upcoming Presidential election.
AC: Going off of that in terms of revenue and economy, there has been a lot of talk of internet piracy hurting the income of musicians. In “Obnoxious,” you advocate people to “burn it off the fucking internet and bump it outside,” so you obviously don’t feel that piracy is hurting you. What do you think the difference is between the reality of what musicians make from song and album sales on iTunes, and what the record industry wants consumers to believe they make in order to discourage music piracy?
IT: I definitely would like people to purchase The 3rd World in stores and purchase it online, but I think it was more of a way for me to express my frustration with the music industry. I can’t believe they have the audacity to call anybody else a thief. As much money as they steal from artists, as much as they don’t have a health care program for any of their artists, and I look at stuff like that and I’m disgusted. They go to these conferences and tell kids, “How can you steal a record?” I’m like really?
AC: They’re stealing from their own artists.
IT: How come you steal from your own artists? How come you’re selling the masters of your own stuff to be bootlegged in order to generate a buzz in the hood. You’re doing it to yourself and then you want to blame other people? You Godless piece of shit. How dare you try to take the moral high ground with the rest of the society by claiming that someone else is a thief? Really? What about all the Black artists who R&B and Soul were based on, whose masters were bought up in a fucking fixed contract? How about all the people who never got the money that they deserved because someone else slapped their name on a fucking recording, who didn’t have anything to actually do with the process of making this music, or didn’t participate in any of the song writing? How about all the publishing that you owe people? That’s tantamount to reparations that you owe the Latino and African-American communities. So before they talk about stealing money, they should realize that when you point the finger at somebody, there’s three fingers pointing right back at you.
Besides all that, I think that even though it‘s a great thing to be able to download music, there’s bad things to it too. Like when you don’t want a record to leak yet and then it does. So it’s not like I think downloading is great all the time. I definitely don’t want my record to be leaked before it’s ready to be leaked, cause it might not be the correct version of the song, or I might have wanted to change something to complete my artistic vision. But I think also that what needs to be said is that it’s not downloading that’s killing the music. It’s the fact that a whole bunch of people who don’t know shit about music are in charge of a music department. Like I’m glad that you went to the Wharton Business School, I’m glad that you know how to market a record, but that doesn’t mean you know shit about music. Unfortunately, that’s the problem with Hip-Hop, that’s the problem with our culture. We have a whole bunch of people who have no connection to our culture dictating everything for us. We’ve given a valid opinion to people who are not connected to us, over us.
AC: In the musical aspects of your recordings, how much control do you feel it’s necessary to have? Would you be in support of remix work as long as it didn’t distort your artistic message?
IT: I don’t know, remix work is touchy. I understand people sampling a track or something, but being able to take all of your work and re-do it and release the project and not give you a cut off anything, that’s different. You want to take a song and burn it off the internet, that’s fine. But if you’re burning my music off the internet and then selling it, that’s a whole different type of fraud. That’s not just regular fraud, that’s a violation. That’s some shit that’s going to get your IP address tracked down and beat the fuck up. If you follow my tour with a fucking camera and then try to release a DVD of all my shows, and you’re trying to charge people for it, you know what, I’m not even going to let the law handle you, I’m going to handle you motherfucker.
And I think that this is the point that I’m trying to make…it’s acceptable for people who can’t afford your music or can’t find it in the record stores, which was the issue with Revolutionary Vol. 2 to do that, but I always felt like it didn’t affect me as much because the people that really believed in my work and really believed in my music, they were the same people that were willing to go to the record store after they heard it and try to find the album, or they downloaded it and said, “You know what, I really like this so I’m going to support it.”
AC: Politically and philosophically, you’re the most in depth rapper when it comes to discussing important issues. But a lot of them, racism, poverty, crime, terrorism, religion, breakdown in the educational system, corruption within the political system, these are all tied together, so it becomes like a ball of string. Where do you start unraveling?
IT: I think sometimes I try to take a historical approach more than anything else. Try to talk about how racism came about, talk about the history of terrorism and the history of our involvement in a country, talk about the history of a war and our dealings with specific countries. Then we create a chronological order to follow wherein we take note of specific time periods and the progression of the way in which we became enslaved or became free, or the way we advanced ourselves so we can break them down into subsections. That way we can say, “Ok, this is the origination of this, these are the contributing factors of what made this happen, this is how this plays to this.” Then you start with the origin in history of all of these things because they all do have an origin in history.
Slavery has been around since the Hammurabi period in Mesopotamia, so I think we can look into the origin of lots of things. In terms of whether it’s Communism or Socialism, I mean, it doesn’t start with Karl Marx. I’m sorry to disappoint the adamant White left that sees him as a god. He’s not the father of Communism, he just decided to write down some ideas that were prevalent in all societies going back thousands of years. African and indigenous peoples had a sense of collectivism before Europe even had a structured civilization. That’s not to talk down to Europeans or anything, but just to make the point that this has been going on and the history of our people is older than we can imagine it being. Even the kingdom of Egypt is 4, 5,000 years old, and that doesn’t even begin to describe the kingdoms that came from the Nubians that gave rise to the Egyptians, even though Egyptians are touchy about that subject. But it’s true. These are things that we need to acknowledge, we need to embrace so we can understand our civilization better rather than just falling into the category we always do of being hateful of every civilization besides our own. We need to learn the lessons from history or we’re going to be doomed to repeat them again.
AC: On that note Tech, I have one more question for you if you have time.
AC: Basically, our current Administration in this country is a joke. They’ve infringed on our civil rights, deleted emails, judicial firings, and they’ve gotten us into wars we shouldn’t be in. On “Freedom of Speech,” you say, “I love the place that I live, but I hate the people in charge.” We have an election coming up. Do you see any real potential for change in either of these candidates or does it look like more of the same to you?
IT: I think it will be more of the different. It’ll be different things. Obviously we’ve made trillions of dollars of investments in Iraq, and as much as I’d like to believe Barack Obama, who by the way I did vote for, because I vote in every election. Not because I necessarily believe Democracy can’t be circumvented, but more so because when presumptuous motherfuckers come up to me and be like, “Did you vote dude?” and I’ll be like, “well actually I did and it didn’t make a motherfucking difference so get the fuck out of my face and organize something different. Stop thinking that the only way that we can appreciate the democratic rights that we fought for are by voting 25 times every century.” I think that democracy is the institution we set up, not just for voting, and I think that Barack Obama, if he’s elected, will be able to implement more social programs for the benefit of the average American than John McCain. The war will not end. Barack Obama talks about change. You know what’s going to happen? The war’s not going to end, the war’s just going to change. It’s going to be a different war. America tried having a war that was justified by nonsense, a war that was narrated by an idiot. Now they’re going to have a war that is justified and narrated by an incredibly articulate and incredibly intelligent man, if Barack Obama is the one that’s elected. But he’ll have an excuse for it, and for everything, and just from his speech at AIPAC, I don’t think that America’s position on the Israeli-Palestine conflict is going to change. I really don’t think that we’re just going to up and leave Iraq, like I said, the war is just going to change.
AC: And again, that’s assuming we’re intelligent enough to put Obama in when this is a country that for 8 years went with Bush.
IT: Right. He might not even win. We have to realize that the places he beat Hillary Clinton were because people didn’t want Hillary Clinton to win because of the Rush Limbaugh factor, where people were saying, “you know what? We need to smear Obama, we need to make sure he doesn’t come out of this looking rosy, so I want Hillary Clinton to be voted for.”
AC: Right. Well Tech, I won’t take up anymore of your time. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk today.
IT: No doubt. And remember, June 24th, you’ve got The 3rd World, Immortal Technique and DJ Green Lantern, will be on sale in every store, be on myspace.com/immortaltechnique, and of course you can preview the record on viperrecords.com.
So there you have it folks, Immortal Technique’s exclusive interview for Evolving Music. Start getting excited for The 3rd World to drop as the tracks I’ve heard off it are phenomenal. They continue the trend of excellent music supported and punctuated by vicious and powerful lyrics and masterful delivery. Evolving Music and MixMatchMusic would like to thank Immortal Technique for his time in doing this interview, as well as Dennis Paredes, Sam Donado, Public Wizard and Viper Records for helping to make it possible.