Immortal Technique Occupies

BY , May 3, 2012

“Immortal Technique performed at the Occupy May Day rally at Union Square in New York Tuesday, in arguably the most impassioned performance of the afternoon’s lineup.” Huffington Post photo via Jessica Lehrman, Rolling Stone

On Tuesday May 1st, 2012 New York City saw the rise of May Day once again. For over a century the day has commemorated workers and worker rights, beginning with the Haymarket riots in Chicago in 1886. The significance of May 1 has become a lasting one, as the workers’ struggle has continued to be salient around the world.

The message of May Day found renewed meaning in New York City this year, as the 99% gathered together to recognize its importance in our modern era. A group made up of labor unions, students, immigrants, men in suits, and more, converged at Union Square in the afternoon to celebrate justice. Musicians like Tom Morello, a Latin Jazz band, and a Labor Union chorus all took to the stage and the streets to show solidarity and support. And of course, because at World Up we are always in a hip hop state of mind, I personally took particular note of the powerful effect of hip hop on the crowd.

We all know that underground hip hop has forever been a music of the people, for the people, by the people, with some of the best continuously promoting subversive and political messages. So when the crowd went wild after Immortal Technique spit a ridiculous, though short, set at Union Square on Tuesday, I was pretty much beaming like a proud parent. From ex-pat hippies to parents with their toddlers, socialists and anarchists to grannies for peace, Immortal rocked it, and with our peace signs in the air, he had has all screaming “Motherf****er, it’s on!!” It’s always killer to see a massive crowd moved by hip hop, but it was truly poignant to see all walks of life going in, and recognizing the power and beauty in the art form.

It’s been a long time coming, though it seems hip hop has found its place in OWS, just as other groups have. Maria Guillen at hiphopoccupies.com said of the day’s events, “In times of decolonization, hip hop manifests as a collective voice and the spirit of self-determination. Just like hip hop and art transcends borders as a result of young people reclaiming streets and spaces, we celebrate building community outside oppressive systems. No longer will our creativity be crushed out of us. We are what we’ve been waiting for. May Day 2012… expect us.”

Das Racist had a set earlier in the afternoon, but was hindered by faulty equipment. Boots Riley of The Coup has also been highly involved in the Occupy movement, and spoke at his home turf in Oakland on Tuesday.

Clip from Immortal Technique, “Leaving the Past” : Immortal Technique

Capitalism and democracy are not synonymous
You swallow propaganda like a birth control pill
Sellin’ your soul to the eye on the back of the dollar bill
But that will never be me, cuz I am leavin’ the past
Like an abused wife with the kids, leavin’ your ass
Like a drug addict clean and sober, leavin’ the stash
Unbreakable Technique leavin’ the plane crash
I’m out with the black box and I refuse to return I spit reality,
instead of what you usually learn
And I refuse to be concerned with condescending advice
Cuz  [we are] the only motherfucker[s] that can change [our lives]

(Full lyrics and meanings at Rap Genius)


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