Felipe Coronel (born February 19, 1978), better known as Immortal Technique, is a hip-hop artist and political activist. He is also currently the President and A&R of Viper Records. Originally from Peru.
Many of his songs focus on social injustice, covering a wide variety of topics such as urban poverty in the US and international economic inequality (especially in Latin America), protest against the imprisonment of Mumia Abu-Jamal (who has voiced several interludes for Immortal Technique’s music), militarism and the military industrial complex in the US, media bias in favor of conservative and corporate interests, and racism (especially in regards to the mistreatment of people of color in the US).
Although he has been offered a deal with at least one major music label, he has yet to sign with any, over alleged disagreements that they have over the political content of his songs. Immortal Technique has also voiced a desire to keep control over his production, and has made statements in his music that he is very aware that it is record companies, not the artists themselves, who profit the most from mass production and marketing of music.
Immortal Technique was born Felipe Coronel in El Hospital Militar De Lima in Peru. Only living in Peru for a few years, his family came to the United States to escape the civil war and inflation that had become common in South America in the early 1980s. After emigrating to New York City, he lived in Harlem and attended Hunter High School where he was best remembered as a school bully. He frequently intimidated younger students, had several run-ins with local drug dealers and never got good grades. While he was never considered to be a significant drug dealer or gangster, people remember him as a graffiti vandal and wild young man with a violent temper who often physically assaulted others. Despite numerous run-ins with the law and almost being expelled in 1996, he still graduated high school. Though he attended college at Pennsylvania State University, it ended prematurely with him being charged and convicted for multiple counts of assault, and he was expelled in his second year. He was subsequently sent to a remote prison in the state of Pennsylvania.
During his time in prison, he studied religion, history, politics and began writing songs. After being paroled in 1999, he excelled at freestyle battles, winning several competitions in New York City and elsewhere.
In 2001, he released his first album, Revolutionary Vol. 1. In November, 2002 he was listed by Source magazine as the month’s featured “Unsigned Hype”, which highlights artists that are not signed to a recording label. The following year, in September of 2003, he received the coveted “Hip Hip Quotable” in the Source for a song entitled “Industrial Revolution” from his unreleased second album. He finally released his second album Revolutionary Vol. 2 in 2004 under Viper Records. The album has sold around 65,000 units according to soundscan figures, but estimates reach as far as 80,000 considering his large underground street distribution wing that made him famous in the NYC area.
Immortal Technique has taken the role of an activist in much of his later work. In addition to his collaborations with Mumia Abu-Jamal, he has released songs commenting on the George W. Bush administration. The single “This Revolution” was released in 2003 and expresses his views on terrorism and the Iraq War as well as his disdain for the current American neo-con government.
In the summer of 2005, the song saw an official release on a 12” vinyl single along a remix with hip hop legends Chuck D of Public Enemy and KRS-One. Immortal Technique appears (as himself) in the independent movie This Revolution which is set during the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City and chronicles the protests surrounding the convention in a pseudo-documentary style. The movie also features fellow hip hop artist Akir in a small role. Immortal Technique’s next release, The Middle Passage,has been delayed numerous times with no date set, although a mixtape with DJ Green Lantern called “The Third World” is set to release Spring of 2008, followed by a documentary DVD that is titled “Urban Warfare” and then the third and last volume (hence Vol. 3) in the Revolutionary series.
Social and political views
Immortal Technique provides listeners of his music with his views on society and world politics, particularly American foreign policy. He tackles a myriad of modern social and political issues in his songs, addressing events such as the killing of the prominent Black Panthers member Fred Hampton by the FBI, the new world order established by the neo-conservative American government, 9/11, the shooting of Amadou Diallo by New York City Police, and the CIA backed hunt and subsequent assassination of revolutionary leader Che Guevara - to name but a few. He is far-left in political orientation, referring to himself as a “socialist guerrilla,” but refuses party affiliation.
Often questioning the policies of the U.S. government, Immortal Technique points out social inequalities, and promotes a high level of social activism and revolution. Major themes include U.S. nationalism and jingoism, the right-wing bias and censorship of the media, the death of Senator Paul Wellstone, the CIA’s mind control project MKULTRA and the use of depleted uranium by United States troops. He also suggests that the World Trade Center towers were brought down by explosives.
His interpretation of history highlights what he considers to be the oversights of American education. Referring to a comet killing dinosaurs, he does not believe that dinosaur fossils were planted by God to test our faith. He claims the Hebrews that were involved in the Exodus were black, a belief held by Black Hebrew Israelites. Aligning himself with Ivan van Sertima, he believes that African discovery of America predates that of Christopher Columbus. He raps about Mary Magdalene giving birth to the children of Jesus, a subject rarely addressed in most American households before the release of the DaVinci Code. He makes various references to the history of the Knights Templar, fueling his belief that the world’s power lies in the hands of the Freemasons. Finally, he claims that there was a newscast on September 11, 2001 that spoke of bombs planted on the George Washington Bridge. He goes on to claim that it was reported that police arrested four non Arab suspected terrorists on September 11.