Two years had passed since Immortal Technique had graced the shores of the UK. The last time he was on the South Coast, in Brighton, I was living in Ankara, Turkey. I remember contemplating a flight back just to catch this gig because the man known as “Tech” very rarely played shows outside of the US. It could have been my only chance to see the Peruvian-born Harlem-based rapper. Luckily his State Terrorism tour chose Brighton as a destination this year, and I speak for everyone when I say, we are glad he did.
It has been three years since his last material was released, a collection of previously unreleased songs entitled The Martyr, and six years since his last real album was available, The 3rd World. His widely anticipated next album is still to be announced, but it was not as if Tech needed any more material as he tore the roof off of Concorde 2 last night.
I arrived just as the opening acts were hitting the stage. In very much the same mould as Tech himself, the two opening rappers, Hasan Salaam and Constant Flow, fired up the crowd up with their politically-infused hip-hop. Hasan Salaam just edged it for me in terms of performance, but the passion from both of them was clear to see. Chants of “Free Palestine” and “Free Gaza” were regular additions to the performances throughout the night, the Brighton crowd only too happy to join in and show their own support.
At around 9:50 the crowd had reached capacity. A wide, and varied demographic of people had crammed themselves into the venue and were baying for the man they came to see. Before Tech himself hit the stage DJ Static showed us some of his skills, and led the crowd in a karaoke session of weed related and stoner songs. Dawn Penn started things off, as the crowd swayed and the smell of marijuana floated over the heads of the people present.
Then it was time for the main event; the man himself. Immortal Technique met a thunderous greeting as he made his way on stage, and looked almost embarrassed by the response he had received. After the greetings and niceties were done with he proceeded to roar through his back catalogue. Joined on stage by both the opening acts, Tech played hits from across his collection of music. Harlem Streets, Peruvian Cocaine, Bin Laden, Rich Man’s World and Obnoxious were all present, the crowd just as much a part of the performances as the men on stage. Dance With The Devil was played in its entirety, and was almost word for word perfect.
Tech had the crowd eating out of his hand all night. A man that has deservedly earned such a reputation was incredibly self-assured and confident on stage. His set was punctuated by the political and moral opinions that have made him so famous. His words were his weapon, and everything was a target. The royal family, the football World Cup, weed, sexism, rape, war, Israel, capitalism, abortion and immigration were all topics that Tech targeted for attention. When the crowd were not roaring his words back at him, they were cheering on the manifesto he was prescribing.
The hour long set flew by. The sweat dripped from the brows of those watching, the arms and lips moved in unison with the music, and Tech was front and centre, leading it all. He looked perfectly comfortable and at ease. As the gig closed, and the crowds began to drift away, I was able to catch up with Tech for a brief chat.
Tech said that he felt it was a shame that a lot of people discount underground and independent hip-hop, choosing to focus more on the mainstream. Though there is not a lot of money to be made being underground or independent, for Tech, it is not about the money. He told me; “don’t chase money”, because money is simply for maintenance. He said that we should ask ourselves “What is the money for?” Is it for sustaining a family? Is it for helping impoverished people abroad? Or is it simply money for the sake of money?
We continued to talk and I offered him the chance to have the final word on my article. I thought it would be fitting to have the man who I came to see end my piece. After Tech thanked the people of Brighton – a place he called one of the most “open minded and accepting cities” he has been to – I asked him what message he would like people to take away from the night’s performance. He told me that entertainment does not have to distract and numb the mind, entertainment can be used in a positive way, for him, his performances and his shows are “entertainment for education, not for pacification”.
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