Throughout my 15 year fascination with—and dedication to—hip-hop, Immortal Technique’s presence has stood as one of the most impactful in the culture’s history.
Incredibly technical emcee skills aside, Tech has navigated his career by employing brutal honesty and loyalty, and remaining dedicated to exposing truth—all essential to hip-hop’s core. He’s lived with these same virtues in his life outside of hip-hop, in addition to his role as teacher, activist, and organizer, and yet has never shied away from acknowledging that he wasn’t always the upstanding person he’s grown into.
During a recent appearance on VICELAND’s Desus and Mero, Tech addressed the recent narrative surrounding his admitted bullying of Hamilton playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda when the two were in high school.
Tech describes the incident as just a tiny fraction of his generally violent and criminally-tinged youth, and shares that he believes his early negative encounters with police ultimately taught him those wrong life lessons that he’s since had to unlearn.
His story begins at around the 3:20 mark in the video above.
I explain to people, my first interaction with the police, my first major interaction was when we were 12 years old. We were running, racing in Riverside park. The way little Dick and Jane and Spot would be in your little book, the way they would anywhere in the world. “I'm faster than you.” That's all we said as little kids.
And when we started running, about halfway to the end of the race, a cop car jumped the curb and stood in front of us. And they pulled out and they were like, “What y’all runnin from?” And I said, “Man, we just racin’.” And I'll always remember this fat Italian cop said, “The only reason that niggers and spics run, is when they steal something.”
So he grabbed my friend and he pulled him inside the car and he started hitting him with the nightstick in his head. And mind you, my friend's 13 years old, and I guess in some way, shape or form, that made me so angry that I said, “Hey man, if you really want to see a monster, I'll show you motherfuckers a monster.” And unfortunately that was the wrong thing that I learned from those type of experiences. It was like, “Oh, well if you're going to paint me as such a horrible person, then what's the point of pretending to be good?"
Immortal Technique’s experiences are frighteningly commonplace to this day, and prior to sharing his story, Technique went into detail regarding the many ways in which black and Latino youth are victimized into lifestyles they would have otherwise never led.
As horrifically common as Immortal Technique’s story is, his telling of it from his current perspective is incredibly important. Tech’s intelligence allowed him to succinctly draw a direct correlation between these experiences and his youthful mindstate, and in his particular case, it shows a man that was able to overcome that environment and go on to do great things.
Kudos to Immortal Technique for continuing along the path he’s led for the last 16 years, educating others through his own trials, and always persevering. It’s what has made him a figure we’ll be talking about for ages to come in hip-hop culture.
By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.
Photo Credit: Southbank Centre/Sarah Jeynes