IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE & BROTHER ALI
Born in a military hospital in South America, Immortal Technique was brought to the United States in the early 80's while a civil war was breaking out in his native Peru. The US supported puppet democracy and Guerilla factions were locked in a bitter struggle which ended like most do in Latin America, with the military and economic aid of the State Dept. through channels like the CIA. Although he had escaped the belligerent poverty and social turmoil of life in the 3rd world, he was now residing in Harlem which had its own share of drama. Growing up on the streets of New York, the young man became enamored with Hip Hop culture, writing graffiti and starting to rhyme at an early age. Although he frequently cut school and ended up being arrested time and time again for his wild behavior, the kid still managed to finish high school and got accepted to a state university. Unfortunately the survivalist and aggressive attitude that was the norm in New York City caused him to be involved in more violent altercations at school, whether it was with other brothers, false flaggers or the relentlessly racist population of an uncultured Middle America.
Compiling multiple assault charges in New York State and in other states eventually caught up to the uncompromisingly hardheaded actions of one Immortal Technique. He faced several charges for Aggravated Assault in the tri-state area. Realizing his inevitable incarceration, Technique began to prolifically write down his ideas about what he had lived and seen in the struggle back at home in relation to his visits back to his native land. He came to embrace his African roots that stemmed from his grandfather and understood the nature of racism and ignorance in its role in Latino culture, separating oppressed peoples and keeping them divided. He also began to study in depth about the Revolutionary ideas that had caused a history of uprising in the indigenous community of his Native South America. Although pressured to turn states evidence before and during his bid, he refused the DA and lawyers. He was facing a 5-10 stretch, but the hiring of a pittbull attorney helped him compile the cases without turning snitch like his co-defendants. The result was a 1-2 year sentence in the mountains, 6 hours away from the city. There Technique studied, worked out vigorously, began to document his lyrics, and create songs. Besides the creation there was destruction, and the fights were nothing compared to the verbal battles that he engaged in occasionally. This proved to be a foreshadowing of what was to come...
Paroled in 1999, Immortal Technique returned to NYC and began a campaign to claim victory to what he had discovered he had a talent for; battling. One of the rites of passage in establishing oneself in the Hip Hop community is following in the steps of those who made their name in lyrical warfare before you. Immortal Technique quickly became known throughout the underground. His brutally disrespectful style was trademark, and it was not long until he had won countless battles not just on stage and in clubs, but on the streets whenever a random cipher would pop up. From Rocksteady Anniversary, to Braggin Rites, SLAM DVD's and hookt.com's infamous battles, he established himself as someone who could captivate a crowd and who people looked forward to seeing. But it was then that Technique realized what every battle champion had come to terms with before him, battles was just that, battling, and not synonymous with success at making music. Turning his eye to production and touching up some of the songs he had written in prison he now focused on trying to get an album together, but major labels wanted a more pop friendly image and were uncomfortable with his hardcore street style that was complemented by his political views. In response to their lack of vision, Immortal Technique left the battle circuit and released his critically acclaimed Revolutionary Vol.1, which at first moved 3000 copies, but to date has moved more than 12,000. This earned him Unsigned Hype in the Source (11/02) and numerous articles in Elemental & Mass Appeal.
Established in the underground circuit Tech began another round of dealing with record labels unwilling to see the direction of his brutally honest and cultured rhymes. He decided to continue with what had been so successful, his hand to hand out the trunk hustle. In the post 9.11 climate, as the music industry crumbled, Immortal Technique built on the truth with a hardcore brand of street politics. Being featured in XXL, The Washington Post, and having been titled with the Hip Hop quotable in The Source (10/03) for his sophomore independent release Revolutionary Vol.2 was just the beginning.. On Viper Records, where he is the Executive VP, he sold 29,000 copies of Revolutionary Vol.2 to date and has appeared on soundtracks for new movies including the new Mario Van Peebles film "BAADASSSSS". Immortal Technique has also worked with Mumia Abu Jamal and AWOL magazine. His single "Industrial Revolution" released in conjunction with Uncle Howie Records hit #1 on CMJ and #50 on the Billboard charts. Recently back from a successful West Coast tour, Immortal Technique is now booking a European tour in the Fall of 2004 and recording his highly anticipated third album.
Fully recharged and inspired by his eye-opening first trip to Mecca, the 2011 uprisings in the Middle East, and the world wide Occupy movements, Brother Ali is prepared to unveil his fourth full-length offering Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color. Created during a self-imposed two-month exile in Seattle and helmed by platinum-selling producer Jake One (50 Cent, T.I., Wiz Khalifa), the album presents a scathing yet honest critique of America and its many flaws while simultaneously presenting a hopeful outlook of its possibilities. Preceded by the release of free music downloads with accompanying music videos such as “Shine On," "Writer’s Block,” and “Not A Day Goes By," Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color is the pièce de résistance.
In an age of hip-hop where the paradigm of swag over substance reigns supreme, few emcees are willing to use their platform to tackle the hot-button topics and pressing social maladies of our time - but it’s apparent that Minneapolis-based hip-hop artist Brother Ali is one of those few. Over the course of 14 tracks with assists from esteemed author/ professor Dr. Cornel West, revered Southern hip-hop icon Bun B, and Def Poetry Jam poet Amir Sulaiman, the album brazenly holds a mirror to the idiosyncrasies of American life while simultaneously painting a vibrant portrait of its wondrous potential. Actualizing hip-hop’s full range of motion as a gage for the times, Mourning In America and Dreaming In Color asserts itself as the definitive soundtrack of a disenchanted, disenfranchised, and wildly optimistic citizenry during a landmark period in American history. In a moment of artistic preemptive strike, Brother Ali recognized this prime opportunity to examine and address the underpinnings of the burgeoning stance of mass opposition:
“This is not just a new album, but a new chapter. There’s a kind of democratic reawakening in people at this point in time. I was really looking to take these topics and really hit them hard. To try to open ears and hearts and invite people to take some action and feel empowered. To be engaged and take some agency and responsibility for what’s going on in the world.”
Melding the zeitgeist of classic works such as Ice Cube’s critical 1991 album Death Certificate and Marvin Gaye’s 1971 sociopolitical opus What’s Goin’ On with his keen observations on topics such as race, the Occupy movement, and the hypocrisy of war, Brother Ali has crafted a fresh lyrical approach and dynamic new sound - the result is a stunning collection of hard-hitting lyrics and beats.
The state of the union address commences with “Letter To My Countrymen,” a spirited appeal to fellow Americans with a tailor made guest vocal from Cornel West. Brother Ali speaks on the institution of poverty on “Only Life I Know” while the quasi-autobiographical “Stop The Press” addresses his albinism, the death of his father, and his remarkable yet challenging journey through hip-hop. “Mourning In America,” in part the album’s title track, offers a brutally honest look at America’s convoluted and hypocritical relationship to murder. Featuring a searing verse from poet Amir Sulaiman, “Gather Round” is a battle cry to the masses to take an ardent interest in the social ills plaguing society. Brother Ali puts underemployment and hyper consumerism in the face of socioeconomic turmoil on blast on “Work Everyday.” “Need A Knot,” featuring the voice of Bun B, finds Brother Ali skillfully veiling a series of odd jobs in analogies of illegal hustles. “Namesake” is the seldom-told tale of a pre-fame Muhammad Ali – one of America’s most dynamic personas whom Brother Ali is also named after. The set ends with the outro “Singing This Song,” a track that showcases another one of Brother Ali’s passions – speaking engagements. The song features highlights of Ali's riveting public address at a mass demonstration demanding justice for Trayvon Martin.
Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color, in all its sonic and lyrical glory, promises to be both the voice of a burgeoning new critical American consciousness and the beacon of hope for those that hold fast to its ideals and potential.