It might well look from a mainstream glance that hip-hop today has evolved into nothing but slickly produced, bouncy, party music with mindless lyrics that are more concerned with ringtone-designed, catchy choruses than any type of political message.
We are in a time in the once widely revolutionary music that whenever you hear of an artist accused of being 'offensive' it is more likely that they are being misogynist than being lyrically threatening or offensive to the government or the economic or social system.
But there are still hip-hop artists today making politically charged, socially relevant music in the tradition of such militant rap artists as Public Enemy and Paris. Immortal Technique is such an artist and his latest album, The 3rd World (Viper), which arrived in Amoeba Music yesterday, is a prime example of an artist using his craft and resources as a platform to make powerful political, economic, and sociological statements.
I recently had the opportunity to catch up with the outspoken Harlem, NY emcee, who is as critical of the music industry as he is of the Bush administration. The 3rd World, like his previous releases such as the classic Revolutionary Vol.2, is released on his own label, Viper, with carefully monitored distribution by KOCH. He told me he would rather have control of his music and his business than have some huge corporation pimp him. Not that any large entertainment conglomerate would not be scared away by such a loud political rapper. The industry won't really push political artists, he told me. "They will champion someone who is not fit to defend those positions for our people," he said, noting that this only inspires him to stick to the script. "It's very important for us to never lose sight of the revolutionary aspect of hip-hop.....that's the 3rd world: the revolutionary side, the street side, the hardcore side, and the independent."