Mainstream shine and the adulation of screaming fans in packed venues have largely eluded Immortal Technique. Over the past few years of his career, the launch of new blogs and other forms of web media have given him considerably more attention as a force in underground hip-hop. His highly political content on topics such as 9/11, President Bush, genocide, and foreign policy is virtually unrivaled except for groups such as The Coup and Dead Prez.
Enter the 3rd World
After a five-year hiatus, Immortal Technique reemerges with his third release, 3rd World, a mixtape/collaboration with D.J. Green Lantern. With 14 full tracks and two brief interludes, this collection is equal or better in quality than most full-length hip-hop albums produced by major labels. Immortal Technique is reported to have rejected offers by at least one of the majors due to his refusal to modify his lyrics. According to Technique, the 3rd World refers not only his birthplace of Lima, Peru, but the "underground of the streets."
Don’t Sweat the Technique
Immortal spits rapid-fire like an automatic weapon. Think of it as a commercial-free C-SPAN, CNN, and BBC News along with the films Syriana and Fahrenheit 9/11 set to music. Like graphic war coverage, it’s not for the faint of heart. The lyrical gems are too numerous to mention. The opening track, "Death March" blazes with, “Your lies are too obvious, propaganda monotonous/I’m like the legs of a paraplegic really/'cause I’m still with you even if you can’t feel me." In the same vein as Black Star’s "What Is Beef," on "That’s What It Is," Immortal urges listeners to see that conflict affecting the hip-hop nations extends far beyond the block. He takes shots at the government, big business, and posers. "You got beef with n*ggas, I got beef with Aryans, white power Nazis and European Americans, rampant poverty pimps and fake vegetarians." It’s more than real talk, this is realpolitik and rhyme. "Harlem Renaissance," "Lick Shots," and the title track, rip through gentrification, urban violence and war, respectively, with equal intensity.
"Reverse Pimpology" discusses how top rappers, beautiful women and others who manipulate, ultimately become manipulated. The hard-hitting lyrics are balanced by the solid vocals of guest Mojo over a 70's-sounding sample. Immortal also states his refusal to fit into any narrow category as he unapologetic ally declares, "I'm not a crack-rapper, I'm not a backpacker/I’m not a wack rapper moonlighting as a bad actor." Similarly, "Payback" employs a sweet soul-sample from the Chi-Lites, while describing ways to exact revenge on conservative darlings such as Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh for their perceived racist views.
The Bottom Line on '3rd World'
If you’re looking for the light at the end of the tunnel like the Chrisette Michele-blessed "Rising Up" on The Roots' Rising Down, you won’t find it here. Immortal Technique keeps it gritty from start to finish. Expect to be enlightened, encouraged, unnerved and maybe even offended, but it’s worth the trip to the 3rd World.Top Tracks
- "That's What It Is"
- "Harlem Renaissance"
- "The Third World"
- "Reverse Pimpology"
- "Crimes of the Heart"