Fact Checking a Technique

Felipe Andres Coronel, better known as Immortal Technique, is a popular underground rapper of Afro-Peruvian whose rap lyrics focus on controversial issues such as class imbalance, racial inequality, institutional oppression. Unfortunately, many people consider many of Immortal Technique’s lyrics as conspiracy theories and the antics of a wild man. In response he lucidly argues that his lyrics are simply “the truth”, and the truth is often seen as revolutionary.

In his own words

I give niggaz the truth, cause they pride is indigent

On March 17, 2012, Immortal Technique will take the stage in Boston’s Paradise Rock Club. As a fan of Mr. Coronel’s lyrical prowress and a budding journalist, I will naturally attend the concert and listen to his thoughts on current issues. I find it valuable to perform a cursory factual assessment of his lyrics. To do this, I picked his verses from the song Young Lords from his most recent album, The Martyr:

Enjoy the song on Grooveshark!

I survived the cointelpro assassinations.
AIDS epidemic, Crack era, fractured a nation,
The Interpretation of American Democracy,
Is best exemplified in it's foreign policy dichotomy,
I live a double life of political philosophy,
But revolution follows me, the struggle for equality,
Against the morally bankrupt claiming to be born again,
It's a civil war again like MS-13s origin
Ban ethnic studies claiming our culture will swallow them,
But you can't conquer people and build a country on top of them,
And then feel offended that they breathe the same oxygen,
Your family values lack the wisdom of Solomon,
But Operation Condor and Operation Bootstrap are Polisci 101,
Research for the new jack,
It's hard to reach Communist Utopia tomorrow,
When your hands are in a fuckin glass jar like Che Guevara,
Forget the distorted historical facts you were given,
Slave trade was the capital for capitalism,
Trapped in a prison mentally, dying existentially,
Separated from people you can't see yourself to be,
Then racially integrated into a burning house colony of an empire,
Economically burning out,
Can't win a debate so they sponsor every threat to me,
I wonder if agent 800 is standing next to me!    

Let’s go through the first half.

COINTEL assassinations: COINTELPRO were a series of declassified, covert and illegal projects to remove power from domestic policital organizations, such as the KKK and Black Panthers. The summary report by the Senate acknowledges that “… the domestic activities of the intelligence community at times violated specific statutory prohibitions and infringed the constitutional rights of American citizens.” However, the projects were active between 1956 to 1971, and are unlikely to have directly affected Felipe (born 1978).

The Interpretation of American Democracy / Is best exemplified in it’s foreign policy dichotomy: The US government’s foreign policy has often been called a dichotomy – for example, when the government calls to reduce weapons in the Middle East while supplying tanks to countries in the Gulf. Similarly, while the United States is called the “greatest democracy on the planet”, controversies such as the financial institutions’ ties with the Federal Reserve, and the 1%.

Civil war like MS-13s origin: MS-13 is an L.A.-Mexican gang notorious for their excessive cruelty. It originated as a group to protect Salvadoran immigrants, fleeing civil war in their home country, from existing, well establish Mexican gangs in the area, despite both sides being immigant populations living in the same region. Stepping back, we can see that much of the news in the past several months have focused on income disparities and the resulting unrest. Comparing current events to a civil war between a militant government and a guerrilla coalition is certainly an overstatement.

Based on an admittedly small sample set, the relationships that Technique weaves between (factually accurate) historical events to current events and himself are tenuous at best. This is an instance where the individual facts are correct but the contextual information is “pants on fire”.

To perform the fact checking I used a combination of RapGenious (not a very good source), Wikipedia, and old fashioned Google searches.

One thought on “Fact Checking a Technique

  1. Eugene, I love the idea of annotating rap lyrics – Immortal Technique is offering a sufficiently dense set of references that turning those lyrics into some sort of hypertext seems like a worthwhile exercise. It’s interesting to think about how this could best be incorporated – I could imagine something very worthwhile being done using pop-up video – see http://www.rebelliouspixels.com/2012/buffy-vs-edward-html5-pop-up-video-powered-by-popcornjs for an example of one fascinating way to do this.

    I think it’s worth considering carrying this out for a full set of lyrics, but I also feel like at a certain point, it’s worth asking how much we’re willing to give IT poetic license for… and at what point assertions like the ones he’s making in these verses are a claim to authenticity that he can’t personally claim.

    Also, wassup with that early 80s backing track? I thought we were done with Journey? Have we run out of 60s and 70s soul samples and moved on to mining the early 80s?

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