Immortal Technique Revolutionary Vol.2

[Viper; 2003]

Styles: political hip hop
Others: Mis Def, Talib Kweli, The Perceptionists

One of the loudest critiques of our generation is that a general apathy has infected our entire world-view. In the face of war, inequality, and questionable leadership, we have grown complacent in lives characterized by materialism, caring little about the notion of affecting change. Those from earlier times lament that our musicians only reinforce this lazy and irresponsible sentiment; once a tool for artists to voice discontent and raw ideals, music has devolved into a medium where entertainers espouse the virtues of sex, cars, drugs…and bling.

While these critics have a point, one doubts they have ever listened to Immortal Technique. In 2003 this Peruvian born New Yorker, who is quite possibly the angriest guy in music, issued an urgent call to arms against the hypocrisy of the establishment, coloring it with Andean and Latin folk samples, character portraits, and fiery yet clever lyrical diatribes against the ignorance of the Bush administration, the white middle class, corporate America, and poor minorities. In short, nobody gets a free ride on Technique’s master polemic, Revolutionary Vol. 2.

The curtain opens on “Point of No Return,” where strings ominously loop over stuttering percussion, and Technique bursts onto the track, frantically spitting out an alternative history lesson to his audience. Within three minutes, he references Nat Turner, Malcolm X, Auschwitz, and the Patriot Act. In a stinging criticism of European colonialism, Technique claims Hispanic culture is due to the Spanish “raping Black and Indian women, creating Latinos.” Heatedly informing his listeners our understanding of the past is no more than bigoted fiction, he launches into the rest of the album, fully aware that everyone who just listened to the opening track is uncomfortable with the in-your-face accusations, yet undeniably curious as to what else this irate rapper has to say.

In “The 4th Branch,” an accusatory finger is pointed at news media for manipulating public opinion. After a breakdown of coercive American involvement in Latin America and the Middle East, Technique lashes out at the mainstream journalists failing to report the details of American policy; citing them as an underlying reason for the rise of a brain-washed society of citizens with a case of knee-jerk nationalism. On “Harlem Streets,” particular venom is reserved for New York City: a place that prides itself on being a haven of progressive thought where all are accepted. Technique spins imagery turning the picture on its head, effectively arguing that the parlor liberalism of Manhattan is no better than the Old South: “Working your whole life wondering where the day went/ The subway stays packed like a multi-cultural slave ship/ It’s rush hour/ 2:30 to 8, non stopping/And people coming home after corporate share cropping.” In desperate anger, Technique asks us, “You can’t raise a family on minimum wage/Why the fuck you think most of us are locked in a cage?”

People feel uneasy when listening to this record, but that is precisely the point of polemics. We are not expected to agree with every word Immortal Technique says; despite what one may think of conservative politicians, few would agree that “Condoleeza Rice is a new age Sally Hemmings.” The importance of Revolutionary, Vol. 2 is that it lets us know why someone is this furious. Technique’s frustration is so apparent in his voice, in his rhymes, and in his subject matter, that we are compelled to listen to the man. Of course, his ability to weave a sophisticated story of discontent should not be discounted; it is central to what makes this one of the best political hip hop albums. While the album itself might not convincingly present revisionist history at all times, it ruthlessly — and successfully - conveys the sense of distress, humiliation, and bitterness felt by so many of America’s underprivileged communities in the last few years. Simply put, Immortal Technique deserves to be heard.

1. Revolutionary Intro
2. The Point of No Return
3. Peruvian Cocaine
4. Harlem Streets
5. Obnoxious
6. The Message & The Money
7. Industrial Revolution
8. Crossing the Boundary
9. Sierra Maestra
10. The 4^th Branch
11. Internally Bleeding
12. Homeland and Hip Hop
13. Cause of Death
14. Freedom of Speech
15. Leaving the Past
16. Truth's Razors
17. You Never Know
18. One (Remix)

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