Immortal Technique
Revolutionary Volume 1


4.5
superb

Review

by PumpBoffBag USER (87 Reviews)
October 16th, 2020 | 22 replies


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Viva la revolution

As a figurehead for political hip hop, Immortal Technique has put a gargantuan amount of effort into imbuing all of his releases with an integrity that reflects the mindset and views of the outspoken critic he is at heart. Perhaps somewhat unfairly, Tech became best known for his political standing and his devastating ode to a gangster's remorse, 'Dance With The Devil'. As powerful and important as the track is, however, it is not the best representation of the artist's body of work. Although it does point to inner city issues and is a superb example of the rapper's ability at classically-constructed rhymes and storytelling ability, it is also transgressive and engineered to shock in a somewhat cheap way, particularly when compared to his usual output which dives into real, topical issues to create the same, if not a surpassing, level of disquiet. Yet here the track sits, nestled in amongst a collection of hardboiled and reverent hip hop vignettes that tackle a spectrum of issues in caustic and spectacular fashion. Despite this, the album is served tremendously well by the infamous cut, which accentuates the explored ideas here in unexpected ways- but more on that later. Although Vol. 2 of the Revolutionary duology is possibly a more accessible and generally more traditionally 'enjoyable' classic hip hop experience, Vol. 1 displays a grimy, unpleasant base level to a lot of the concerns explored on its sister piece; a verbose and troubling exercise in hip hop that urgently demands engagement, even as it grinds you under its boot heel.

Opener 'Creation and Destruction' is a wonderfully controlled traditionalist piece of hip hop, from the booming rhythm to intricate yet still classic lyricism. Political metaphor is woven about the construct, even when Tech is bragging about his own prowess ("I cause more casualties that sunken slave ships..."), in addition to mention of various political figures and ideologies. The track serves as a mission statement of sorts for what lies ahead, in style and expectancy, if not purely thematically. A large number of these themes carry over to the following tracks, and although some of the content lacks focus as an entire piece, they are linked throughout by intrinsic callbacks and relevant topics. 'Positive Balance' is a hauntingly effective moment, with a restrained delivery and an eerie chiming motif utilised amidst the typical beat. It is also one of the album's most thoughtful ventures; a lament on wasted life/ youth/ existence, particularly in relation to religion, disillusionment, industry and education ("I give a fiend a good book, instead of the crack..."). Revolutionary also features a smattering of interludes that see Tech flirting with spoken word delivery, such as 'Poverty Of Philosophy' and 'Beef & Broccoli'. They are diatribes at their core but provide further insight into the artist's views, and lend the album some extra variety throughout. 'Poverty Of Philosophy' has a catchy hook and is home to a resonant proclamation that ideology alone is simply not enough- and this complements the outspoken nature of the release very well.

Adding more fuel to the fiery rhetoric are tracks such as 'Revolutionary', 'Top Of The Food Chain' and 'No Mercy'- the latter undoubtedly an album standout. Opening with an excerpt from Malcolm X, the piece is strikingly minimalistic and yet also one of the album's heaviest excursions, with throbbing bass and a contorting flow from Tech. The lyrics are saturated top to bottom with allusions to politics, education, abortion, spirituality and cautionary references to drug abuse. It is superbly menacing and wonderfully aggressive in a carefully orchestrated manner. Therefore, it is curious an album so loaded with political barbs and cynicism should be home to such a track as 'Dance With The Devil'. It certainly equals the content for bile and sheer vitriol, but seems to lack nuance and serves as a storytime piece for the rest of the album's heady discourse. Nonetheless, Revolutionary Vol. 1 feels appropriately served by the track- almost an example or analogy for the analytical content that surrounds it. In situating the song in the album's later stages, the effect feels almost educational; a confrontational and bitter segue that emphasis and even distils a lot of the key points brought out by the main body of the album. It is a twisted parable to serve the keynote speaker's symposium; inelegant, ugly, yet conscious of the weight of its ideas. Although it may seem a slight non-sequitar from the piece overall, it is a river to the album's ocean; fed by the same violent waves and its almost cataclysmic tidal force.

There has been a good amount of discussion relating to Immortal Technique's political standpoint, and with good reason considering it is the prime directive of his artistic content. There is certainly an argument to be made regarding bias and criticism of his own views, but purely as an exercise in underground hip hop, the first volume of Revolutionary is incendiary and uncompromisingly intelligent . It burns clear with a vibrant and angry passion that Tech has yet to match, the clarity of his vision almost flawlessly transferred across to the medium of beats and rhymes. There are occasional dry spells peppered throughout, mostly in relation to slightly longer-than-necessary track lengths, and sometimes the content is a little tactless and wants for taste, but these moments are fleeting and the overall experience is tremendously engaging, fierce and carried with the sharpness that Tech has become known for. As an origin story as well as a bona fide classic of underground hip hop, Revolutionary Vol. 1 deserves to be heard by everyone with even a passing enthusiasm for the genre.



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user ratings (429)
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
heyseuss (3)
My word is through the father, holy spirit and his fucking son Cause when I grab the mic device in ...

irishmanshibby (4)
So you're the motherf*cker they call....Immortal Technique. What the f*ck make you so special ni**a...



Comments:Add a Comment 
PumpBoffBag
October 16th 2020


971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

cc appreciated as always.

MaryBabko
October 16th 2020


594 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Vol 2 was way better but still nice to see some IT love

normaloctagon
October 16th 2020


315 Comments


Yawns in Immortal Technique

Pretty funny that such a radical leftist has so much shit to talk about vegans. Industrialized meat consumption is a massive arm of the capitalism he claims to be so ardently opposed to. I'm not even a vegan and I can confidently say--No one cares, dude!

Immortal Technique was pretty formative for teenage me. Rarely go back for nostalgia these days, but each time I do I'm left wondering why his recycled, overdone macho lyrical content and lo-fi beats are so lauded.

Your review is really, really great though. Have a pos.

rockarollacola
October 16th 2020


411 Comments


The amount of times I've heard Dance With the Devil is way too fucking many. Every single one of my friends has shown it to may claiming its "the most fucked up song ever". It doesn't matter if I tell them I've already heard it; they're gonna play it anyway and force me to read the lyrics.

HalfManHalfAmazing
October 17th 2020


2490 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

You don't have to be a radical leftist to appreciate this guy's music. he has some gems for sure.

Digging: Chameleon - Links

normaloctagon
October 17th 2020


315 Comments


Agree. Just think his shtick was nothing special and that he's over-hyped in the conscious hip-hop scene. His charity work is pretty awesome and his story is neat. I just don't buy his anger and sexism and vortex of contradictions. I don't find it to be interesting or enjoyable, or part of the annals of hip-hop or something. I appreciate the hell out of the reviewer's argument, I just don't agree with it personally. But yeah you definitely don't have to be a radical leftist to appreciate his music lol

HalfManHalfAmazing
October 17th 2020


2490 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is a good review. I personally like how you get flowery and descriptive. I would just say keep it more concise. You spend one of those paragraphs essentially talking about one song, "No Mercy," which is a bit excessive in my opinion.



Regardless, I like the way you write. Pos my man.



Some minor edits:

"a confrontational and bitter segue that emphasis and even distils a lot of the key points brought out by the main body of the album"



I think you mean 'emphasizes'?



"Although it may seem a slight non-sequitar from the piece overall, it is a river to the album's ocean"



Spelled 'non-sequitur.' Also, I'm a little bit lost on this part. Are you basically saying 'No Mercy' doesn't really fit (logically flow) from the rest of the album? If so, that's a bit of a stretch imo.

PumpBoffBag
October 17th 2020


971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thank you very much. I know, not being concise in my writing has been a sticking point for me for as long as I can remember- I get more wrapped up in description than I’d like a lot of the time tbh.

Thanks for the edits too, appreciate you pointing them out. With the second one I was referring to Dance with the Devil in the context of the album though, not No Mercy. Maybe I wasn’t clear enough- I’ll have a look back over the review later today and tighten it a little.

Thanks for all the feedback guys

normaloctagon
October 17th 2020


315 Comments


I have the same problem myself when writing longer pieces (or even comments too, you tell me ; )) but in this instance I thought your review benefitted from the relative lack of concision. It doesn’t come off overly flowery to me, just reflects the ‘lyrical prowess’ of the record as it were, and really does quite a bit to contextualize the album for any kind of listener without relying on cliches. I don’t think the review needs any tightening, but you follow your heart on that.

Get Low
October 17th 2020


8364 Comments


His music was great/important for its time, but it didn't age well and is no longer relevant.

Ryus
October 17th 2020


20766 Comments


this dude sucks big time lol
dance with the devil is laughably dumb

sixdegrees
October 17th 2020


9997 Comments


certified hillaryclittounge classic

Colton
October 17th 2020


4209 Comments


knew multiple people in high school who would get the aux cord and go "yo this song is about a dude who rapes a chick, but then at the end, it turns out it was his own mom!!!" and I'd be like "don't play that then?"

normaloctagon
October 17th 2020


315 Comments


^ this a thousand times this

Colton
October 17th 2020


4209 Comments


also great review pos'd

porcupinetheater
October 17th 2020


4008 Comments


https://i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/001/209/832/5c7.jpg

Colton
October 17th 2020


4209 Comments


dude wtf is this a worldwide phenomenon

normaloctagon
October 17th 2020


315 Comments


porcy :o such meme so true

normaloctagon
October 17th 2020


315 Comments


shit wait she has braids or dreads right

normaloctagon
October 17th 2020


315 Comments


yep braids called it didn't even process first time around. even more meme and even more true



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