Immortal Technique :: Revolutionary Vol. 1 :: Viper/Babygrande Records
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

As I write this review the streets in and around Paris, France are burning. They've been burning for more than a week. Seething discontent about unemployment, racial and ethnic discrimination, human rights violations and a government more interested in self-preservation than addressing civic issues has bubbled up and boiled over. They're young, they're angry, and they're not going to take it any more. It's a shame there isn't a more productive outlet for their anger than burning cars and throwing molotov cocktails at police, but the response of French officials only fuels the flames. People who suffer under the tyranny of economic disenfranchisement and racism will eventually lash out in rage. One has only to look at the Watts Riots of 1965 or the Los Angeles riots of 1992 in the United States to see that the same provocation leads to the same result. Sadly it seems people often do not learn from history's litany of past mistakes and are doomed to repeat them ad infinitum.

Immortal Technique refuses to accept this proposition. Though he's only one man and the initial print run of "Revolutionary Vol. 1" was only a few thousand copies, the outspoken rapper was determined to wake people from their slumber with a message both violent and educational. Technique has a unique world view having experienced poverty and disenfranchisement both in South AND North America over the years. Unlike so many of today's narrow-minded politicians and world leaders, he fundamentally understands that the root causes for anger and civic unrest are the same everywhere. Although the non-violent civil disobedience of Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. are the most noble and admirable form of promotiong social change, it is a daunting task to convince the oppressed not to be angry at their situation and use peaceful means to improve them. Perhaps then we can draw from Immortal Technique a desire to unleash his anger at injustice with fiery rhethoric instead of setting things on fire. Violent language isn't necessarily a call to violent action; instead it can be a release of anger for both speaker and listener when presented musically. "Creation & Destruction" is just such a cleansing song:

"My crazy words make sense
I'll split every pound in your body into sixpence
I'm sick of simple similes about The Sixth Sense
I'll leave your body drenched in the blood from all your ancestors
You'll never be at peace, like the souls of child molestors
I'll cut you and bless your festering wounds with alcohol
Drown you in a clogged toilet, in a public bathroom stall
I'll rip you down; then take a chunk of you home like the Berlin Wall
This is the final call, for all the rappers that wanna brawl
Immortal Technique, the wrong motherfucker to diss
Cause I allow God to let you motherfuckers exist"

Technique's anger is directed in equal parts towards weak rap music, social injustice, and politicians whose charming smiles disguise a snake's malice. The strength of his lyrical fury is based on the premise he reveals truths that other rappers won't; songs such as "The Prophecy" may just prove him right:

"Mercy is not a part of me
I cause you bodily injury permanently
because simply verbally murdering me - is inconceivable
Cause of the unbelievable evil injected inside
the blood stream of my people
And redemption is not located under a church steeple
The feeble and the meek in soul just like the Technique
will inherit the earth, but the earth will be weak
Mother earth in her decrepit terminal illness physique
The year three thousand is bleak no happily ever after
Just death following the forth right disaster, a legacy of bastards
With plastic explosives - your future's been eroded
Cause you forgot that when you're free it's multiplied indefinitely
by the struggle that be, the struggle I see
To socialistically unite the third world countries
Expose hypocrisy, in America's democracy
Sloppily obsessed with stopping me cause I speak prophecy
Trample and dismantle your capitalist philosophy
The same way I stomp the conquering, rap monopoly
And I'm not a fuckin prophet.. but that's the fuckin prophecy"

The words of prophecy Immortal Technique speaks would go unheard if he weren't a dope MC to begin with. Fortunately for him and for us he's a smooth flowing, rough hewn vocalist with an excellent sense of timing and breath control. It's telling that the rappers he chooses to roll with on "The Illest" are Jean Grae and Pumpkinhead - two massively underrated underground MC's in their own right. All three drop gems:

Jean Grae: "I burn my bridges with a blow torch
A rebel born from verbal holocaust
Dirty and never try to cleanse to get the drama off
Swiftest stealth assassin snipe you from balcony shots
of terrorist position, professional from the opera box
Rhyme documents infamous like the Bill of Rights"

Pumpkinhead: "Shocked now, like you driving in a lightning storm
With the top down, we got this locked down
Like convicts on the rock, gettin chopped down
for phone time, regaining yards and the whole nine
See me and Tech, we steadily building
And we about to blow like the Oklahoma Federal Building"

Technique: "My arrival is genocidal, like Christopher Columbus
Exterminating racism, whack MC's that walk among us
I've just begun to bust, I'll make the place, open gondela
These racist cops wanna lock me longer then Nelson Mandela
Pissed off, I'm making hella paper, East to West coast
And I treat the law in this country like a motherfuckin joke"

In the time that passed between Immortal Technique's underground debut and the more widespread release of "Revolutionary Vol. 2," Technique's voice got stronger and his beats got even tighter. That's not to say that there's anything wrong with the tracks of "Vol. 1" though. Across the board the production ranges from good to outstanding. The stand outs include Rheturik's simplified bassline and drums for "Dominant Species," Southpaw's eerie melody for "The Getaway," Jean Grae's pianoes on the hilarious "Beef & Broccoli" and the old school throwback sound for the "Top of the Food Chain" remix featuring Poison Pen - a sound that was most notably copied on the "State Property" soundtrack song "When You Hear That." While Immortal Technique may be a little rougher around the edges on this release fans of "Vol. 2" will definitely want to cop this album now that it's been reissued by Babygrande Records. Consequently those new to Technique who pick up "Vol. 1" and like it will be more than ready to hear the next level shit he dropped on the sequel.

Music Vibes: 7.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10

Originally posted: November 8, 2005