Immortal Technique might have been a little late to yesterday's promised appearance at the Occupy Miami site. But once there, he was very generous with his time. He offered press, protesters, and superfans individual attention and thoughtful commentary.
The outspoken, politically active hip-hop artist is visiting Miami to promote his free album The Martyr. And while on his tour, he's making an effort to support those entirely committed to changing the way this country is run by drawing attention to the Occupy movements and visiting campsites.
Immortal Technique took some time to tell Crossfade about revolutionary music, the unique nature of each Occupy gathering, and who dropped the fucking plates.
Crossfade: What brought you down here today?
Immortal Technique: I was doing a show, a tour for this free album called The Martyr. I've been stopping by all the Occupys. Or as many of them as we possibly can on the way down. I'll probably do the same thing in Texas and then on the West Coast.
Where have you been so far?
What I really like is seeing the difference in the type of cohesion that people have when they come together. All the different communities have problems that are unique to their demographic or to their area. So, when I see people [handling] things that are difficult, like kicking someone out of the group who has a drug problem and bringing heat to the movement. When someone is out there saying, "Someone is sick. This is great that we're out here. But we're going to have to close this tent and get this person to a doctor."
There are differences people deal with. Here at Occupy Miami, you're not going to have to worry about it snowing or it being minus 15 degrees. In New York, people are really going to be suffering about that. So, I think that there're going to be a lot of differences in the way people come together. But what I like the most is seeing that though those communities are different, they're working in very similar fashions.
Have you occupied Wall Street? Did you spend the night down there?
Yeah, definitely. I've spent lots and lots and lots of time in Wall Street, New York. I remember when I first popped up there out of nowhere, people weren't really expecting to get or receive any support from a commercial artist or an underground artist. And then, more and more people started showing up and the individuals in the movement were kind of split on it. Some of them felt like, "Oh, these people are only here for the publicity, or sometimes they're just here for whatever."
My approach was like, "Hey, if they're not going to try to take over the movement, then what's the problem with having them down here." If someone who may be rich or some kind of successful artist wants to come down, why not? It's not like that person's going to come down here and mesmerize the crowd with five hundred words and make you all believe in Satan. No, it's just someone's going to come down here and express their opinion. It's going to be what it is.
What is the power of the word, spoken, sung, rapped, in this movement?
I don't know that people are exactly rapping everywhere at all the other Occupys. I think there are some slight differences between hip-hop artistry and a mic check. There's definitely hip-hop generation-esque aspects to it.
I would say more of a rebellious generation than just hip hop. That encompasses different types of music. If we remember rock 'n' roll from the '60s, [it was] very, very rebellious music. Some people from that era don't even like the rock 'n' roll that preceded it and then came after it. Now music is experiencing that to a certain degree as well. Artists that don't do that, it's not like they'll be castigated for it, or ignored. People still want to party and have fun. People doing music that's about something has a different dimension, adds a different dimension the way people sing their songs.
Do you have one major issue that you hope this really affects?
Obviously, the government corruption is something that's incredibly important. The fact that there are people in this government who are not accountable to the pubic at all and that's what people here are frustrated about. They have this continuous belligerence, like, "I didn't do anything wrong." OK, so all these people lost their homes, it's nobody's fault.
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I speak Spanish. And in Spanish, we have ways of saying things, so it's no one's fault: Se cayeron los platos. The plates fell. No, I dropped the plates. That's different, you have to say it differently: Yo tire los platos en el suelo. But the way they play the game, Ay, se cayeron los platos. Sorry. That's not my fault. I didn't have anything to do with it. I didn't even know that was going to happen. I wasn't out there making predatory loans to people who I knew couldn't potentially pay it back.
You took advantage of individuals, you took advantage of America. You wanted a bail out. You fronted like the system was perfect and infallible, and then you used every single advantage that you could to feed off of people. At some point, people got fed up. They got tired of it. I don't think you can categorize them as communist and anarchists simply because they rebel against that.
I remember I had that argument the first day this started. Someone was like, "Oh, they don't like America." I was like, "Really? Because someone's upset with the way things are?" Imagine a woman that walks down the street, a guy tries to holler at her, she doesn't respond. What, she's gotta be a lesbian now? She's just not into you motherfucker. Don't blame it on them. Don't take the coward's way out of making these ad hominem attacks against people that are just sitting here trying to express themselves.