Immortal Technique drops a line on Syria and Political Hip Hop

By Jeff Ihaza / Senior Staff Writer

In an era when hip-hop’s most political days seem long gone, artists like Immortal Technique have become something of a dying breed. However, that doesn’t make his message any less powerful. From the get-go, the Peruvian-born, Harlem-raised rapper has been putting out tracks that skip the niceties and go straight for the throat, taking aim at the wealth inequality, insititutional racism and militarism that he sees rampant on the modern political scene. Between playing shows with fellow politically minded emcees Brother Ali, Diabolic and I Self Devine on the War and Peace Tour, which hits Pittsburgh’s Altar Bar on Friday, he took the time to respond to a few quick questions from The Pitt News via email. 

The Pitt News: What role do you think music should play in current affairs?

Immortal Technique: It obviously has the ability to present an undigested viewpoint that isn’t manufactured by the mainstream media. The mainstream will always claim that art and music oversimplifies a subject. However, that is measured against the corporate structure of media in general and their inability to bite the hand that feeds them. Journalism is, after all, printing what other people don’t want you to print. Everything else is just public relations. However music, now being under the same corporate system, has no moral superiority in the equation. Well, unless of course they are truly independent. And there it is.

TPN: How do you feel about the clamoring for strikes in Syria?

IT: Interesting to see so many Democrats who were anti-war step in line behind the president and parrot talk. I had seen the left wing mobilize the masses to prevent Iraq and now they all seemed to dissipate into a rubber stamp. Especially when there are so many unanswered questions. However, I do believe the people of Syria should be ruled by the Syrian people, not a dictator and not a foreign conglomerate sponsored by Turkey, Saudi [Arabia], France and the U.S., etc.

TPN: The Internet, in a lot of ways, has democratized information. However, in terms of hip-hop, there seems to be less “revolutionary” music now than in the days of cassette tapes. Where is the market for politically conscious music in the Internet age?

IT: I think there is plenty, actually. It just doesn’t get as much attention and development as the other ones that are seen as more economically viable. People see commercial rap as a great investment, whereas the telling of hard truths is associated with harder work for less pay. But it’s there, you just have to look for it.