News & Politics

Immortal Technique on Occupy Wall Street: "Some of You Billionaires Are Going to Have to Go Bankrupt"

Speaking with the rapper in downtown New York about the growing movement.

Immortal Technique is a Harlem rapper and activist who has been one of Occupy Wall Street's strongest and most cogent supporters in hip-hop. AlterNet caught up with him at the protests and talked about his reasons for being there.

Why are you here?

I'm here because this is one of the most powerful expressions of democracy that I've seen in America in decades. And I'm here because in other countries in the world this is illegal, and it's sad that they're trying to make this illegal here. They're trying to discourage people from expressing their democratic right. There is no more love for a nation than you can have than to refuse to see fall into the hands of people who do not have the people's interest at heart. That's the problem of so many nations that have collapsed before. To think that America is unique in a way that it will exist forever you have to understand that Muslims held Spain for three times as long as America has existed as a nation. If we're going to last and we're going to create a better future and a better semblance of democracy then we cannot proliferate anti democratic movements, we cannot proliferate dictatorships the way that we have in Africa, the Middle East, and all over Latin America for the past couple centuries. we have to be the shining example of what democracy is? Does that mean that some of these businesses will fail? Absolutely, but isn't that the same Darwinism they want to impose on the rest of the world? Yes, some of you billionaires are going to have to go bankrupt. Oh, you're breaking my fucking heart. That's capitalism, right? Businesses fail? That's cannibalism. Depends what your interpretation is.

What do you think about Occupy the Hood?

 I think that there's many movements that are going to branch off of this. I think the most important thing that we should realize is it doesn't matter where it is. Realistically speaking, Wall Street has detached itself from the democratic process here. It's detached itself from the hood everywhere. As a matter of fact Wall Street sees everywhere as the hood because it's not insulated in the small tiny island nation of corporations that it only represents. There is no democracy on Wall Street. There's no election to see what kind of brutal regime they're going to install so they can rape the natural resources of some place? I think the only democracy Wall Street knows is when we vote them out by not buying their products, when you vote them out by divesting in their companies.

Do you think that's what people should do?

That's one approach. I thinks that's the way they're going to end. These steps should be discussed in private before they're discussed by any media-mainstream or independent-so there's a firm understanding of it here.

What do you think bout people saying this is an all-white movement and that people of color aren't represented?

(pointing) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. I'm surrounded by people of color. I mean, there's so much diversity here its crazy. There's more diversity here than a Tea Party rally! And this isn't corporate funded. This isn't funded by the Koch brothers. It's an organic movement. They should learn the difference in that. And really I think one of the more interesting things is, when people try to compare this to the Tea Party movement, you should realize the party wasn't created to combat obama. in order to have an election you have to have a primary. who were their first opponents? republicans that they didn't believe weren't conservative enough. they wanted to play to their base. they wanted to attack and punish - brutally - those who didn't conform to the standard of conservatism that they thought should be across the board the definition of what it is. That was the tea party movement, and that was a corporate controlled entity. That was a plan that came from above that said, no, you're going to change the way this is. Similar to the way Fox tried to restructure the way we see the media by claiming that any other entity besides it was far leading to the left and therefore quote on quote "mainstream media" as if they, being the biggest media entity, aren't the main stream media, only slanted to the right, and not because they care about right wing economics, not because they care about the principles of conservatism, but because it's about money for them, because they know there's no audience there. I see a demand, I'm going to fulfill that demand. That's what their plan was, that's all it was.

How did you see growing up in Harlem the effects these corporations have on -

One word, gentrification. You come to make the neighborhood nicer, but you didn't make it nicer for me, you made it nicer because you wanted to replace me. Because when you see a black or a brown face, automatically the property value goes down. Because they wanted to replace individuals. That's not just corporate America's fault, that's black and brown people's fault. When those brownstones were on sale for 1,000 dollars, all these niggas that was talking about hustling and getting money back in the 80s, why didn't you buy twelve brownstones, you idiot? what did you waste it all on - a fucking chain, a Mercedes Benz, jewelry? You're responsible for your own colonization too. The best way to get somebody off your back is to stand up straight.

Do you think that's what this movement is helping to do?

That's one aspect of what they're dong they're also exposing people to various different forms of activism - vocal activism, silent activism, meditation, and one of the most important things I was talking about down over there - which is destroying the mythology of america. Ironically that it's columbus day. Columbus's first slaves were white. Because they rebelled on a boat against him, he said I'm going to find some more gullible people, some more trusting people. Some people who don't understand the art of war the way they've been doing it to each other in Europe. Not because quote on quote the white man's the devil, no because they engaged in so many ongoing wars for the past 2,000 years. I hear about italians talking about aww man these Sicilians they were Africans, and these niggas came up here, that's why they're so much darker. Black people never fucked up italy as much as German people did, ok. You want to talk about who ruined Italy? You got to look at the Visigoths, the Lombards. Everybody that came after them and invaded and said oh this is ours now - the Normans, the Vikings. They're the own worst enemy and this is the problem: WIthout confronting the mythology of America, the mythology of race, instead of America being brave enough to tell the rest of the world, "No, you lost the war because we had superior weaponry and because we fooled you into declaring peace and then redeclared war on you and enslaved you, that's why you're a slave."

No, they needed to find religious excuses why black and brown people were lesser than men but in reality these people who founded the country knew there was no civilization in greece before egypt. So how can a black person be 3/5 of a man when civilization begins in Sumaria and Nubia and Egypt and Mesopotamia? When the first Hebrew prophets were black? When there were black church prophets and they were all white washed? When they exiled all the Jews and all the black people out of Spain that wouldn't forcibly convert? This is the part of history we weren't told. We weren't told that Columbus wasn't a hero, that he was a slave owner, and he was a human rights violator. And he was a disgrace to the memory of all Europeans who came across the ocean looking for whether it's religious freedom or anything else. That's what we want to get across.

Kristen Gwynne is a freelance writer and an editorial assistant at AlterNet.