Review Summary: Immortal Technique returns with strong lyricism fueled by aggression, but also with inconsistency and flawed tracks.
Immortal Technique is a rapper that has acquired a rabid fan-base in the underground rap scene that will froth at the mouth as they eagerly deliver his socially-charged messages whenever the words "hip-hop" come up in conversation. He has calved out a successful career for himself over the years with his controversial messages attacking the United States government, criticizing them and accusing them of various immoral practices such as the sale of drugs to other countries to resolve the economical issues the country has been faced with. He has released three studio albums to date as well as a mix-tape that was distributed for free through his record label entitled The Martyr.
The Martyr was released in 2011 and captures the rapper caught in a musical conundrum. Some of the tracks that are found here are among the strongest he has put out to date (the title track, Civil War) whereas others are somewhat lacking (Angels & Demons). It opens up with a message from the man himself proclaiming that anyone who listens to The Martyr should burn it to a disk or tape and show it to everyone they know. This self-promotion should give an indication as to the level of arrogance that Technique carries but this massively works to his advantage, as he has proven time and time again in the past with tracks such as Obnoxious. His lyrical content here is as strong as ever and occasionally threatens to eclipse even some of his strongest tracks to date, and his flows are rather tight. The real problem with The Martyr is not with Technique himself but is actually found in the guest appearances.
Whilst almost every song certainly has its strong points such as the phenomenal lyrical content to Rich Man's World but even that particular song is let down by the samples throughout. The idea of Immortal Technique rapping over a prolonged sample of Abba's Money Money Money may sound ridiculous on paper and it translates this way on the actual song. It feels too forced and cheesy as Technique frantically delivers his lyrics quicker than he is used to in a desperate attempt to remain on time with the fast, instantly recognizable jingle of the song it samples. Another problem is that a couple of the songs are too long. Ultimas Palabras is not even an actual song but is more a case of Immortal Technique delivering his message through merely talking and this would be fine were it an interlude or skit, but a seven and a half minute track is really pushing things a little too far. Angels & Demons also suffers from its length, clocking in just short of five minutes and in reality only needing three but the annoying chorus is repeated too many times.
On the flip-side, when this album is firing on all cylinders it really is a great accomplishment from the Harlem-based rapper. After the introductory message, the title track begins with a powerful spoken word section that will no doubt get long-time fans of the artist pumped for the messages that they are about to hear, and when the first verse begins you realize that it is business as usual for Immortal Technique. For the first half of the song he speaks of guerrilla war and how there is no chance of ending it until people begin to refuse conscription, but the second half takes an interesting twist. It is here that he begins to hurl accusations at the Government, highlighting various martyrs that have been held up in history, and this is where the power for this song is really found. This verse is intense and aggressive and has some incredible lyricism, beginning with four lines that speak volumes about the society we live in today.
"The purpose of life is a life with a purpose
So I'd rather die for a cause than live a life that is worthless
I don't need the circus or the day of national observance
I need you to think for you and stop being a servant".
Another highlight of The Martyr would be Civil War. This song starts with an extended sample section of a speech before a rather eerie instrumental begins with Immortal Technique shouting curse words over the top of it. When Technique pulls himself together and begins rapping you will see just how strong a lyricist Immortal Technique is and also just why he is so good-the amount of passion behind his words. He spits out every line with so much anger and aggression that it is hard not to be moved. This is the sound of a man feeling repressed and who wants to speak out through his music and really contains a lot of emotion.
The Martyr is a great release from Immortal Technique but is let down by the fact that it is inconsistent. Many of the songs are ridden with tiny flaws and irks that detract from their overall quality, and for every truly masterful song from Technique there is one that lets the release down. The title track is the one that I recommend the highest, and Civil War as they are two that really do show him to be among the best in the game at the minute.