State Terrorism Tour Featuring Immortal Technique

East Village Arts Club, Liverpool
23rd July 2014

Reviewed by Paul Tarpey

Hip Hop music has a stormy relationship with radical politics. A combative and literate culture was perfect for the emotive intelligence that meant Public Enemy’s passionate beliefs burst out of the scene. So who has picked up the mantel in 2014 to challenge a system that has become more subtle but no less cruel in its method. Immortal Technique has been making a great case to lead this challenge as well as confront the pandering to commerciality of many supposed hip hop artists.

He was touring with Viper Records luminaries Constant Flow and Hasan Salaam who all provided something very different to the night along with DJ Static.

East Village Arts Club’s converted theatre provided a perfect platform for a gig that’s part show, part rally.

CF was the first performer and this was a full on assault. His raw, breathless attacks on racism and police brutality were mesmeric at times. An aggressive style didn’t hide an intellect that became more evident as the set went on. The shades in his tales becoming even more compelling. Definitely a lot more to come from this performer.

Hasan Salaam was a more soulful artist. His lyrics have a strong spiritual base that mixes tough political beliefs with personal reflection. His style feels less confrontational but the message comes across just as strongly. I felt that a broader musical backing was needed to reflect his approach and maybe the artist’s recorded voice might be heard even more strongly.

Immortal Technique arrived and dominated the stage. His words display a highly educated, intelligent approach that means the lyrics could become stilted without a skilled confident performance style. This ability to articulate effortlessly with wit and passion is maybe even more evident between tracks as he empowers, teases and lectures the audience. His message of real independence, genuine respect for yourself and others alongside personal honesty leads us into the bigger picture of how we are lied to and enslaved by a system that has no respect for any of us. As everything falls into place his anger is clear but controlled and sure of its targets. We are treated to favourites such as Dance With The Devil and Obnoxious delivered with an intensity that is difficult to capture away from a live performance. He has become a spokesperson, as comfortable at conferences as on the stage and even confronted the gender make-up of the audience. A call for people to ‘man up’, although the context was understandable, was the only slightly disjointed note for me on a personal level on the night. I feel a female presence is the only way to really challenge a lack of diversity that is not hip-hop’s musical problem alone. Apart from this his every word resonated with the audience but never failed to challenge them on how much we can all achieve and how we should really measure our lives.

The work of tonight’s artists away from performing has become as significant as the music itself but tonight was a great validation of how music can deliver a message to government and business, while staying focussed, independent and above all entertaining.

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