Sunday, January 30, 2011

Immortal Technique & Nas

Today I was looking at the Facebook page of a DJ from overseas. A guy had posted a question asking him what he thought of Immortal Technique. OK. But, then he gave it a weird twist by asking him to compare the MC to Nas. That seemed kind of random, and even foolish, but got me to thinking anyway.

It seems obvious to me that even the biggest Immortal Technique fan wouldn't tout him as being above Nas. Not skill-wise, anyway. But, there are some aspects of the two's respective styles that could be compared. First, of course would be the political nature of the rhymes. Both speak on the immediate socio-political issues looking them in the face everyday in their neighborhoods. This content is identifiable to their peers, but at the same time it challenges those people, as well as others outside of that experience to think about the cause and effect of things like gentrification and drug laws on low-income communities. Immortal Technique seems to expand his view further though, speaking on international situations, especially those relating to America's dealings with, and treatment of other countries - which he exposes as often secret and hypocritical. However, Nas seems to have taken a broader approach most recently on his joint album (no pun intended) with Damian Marley.

I would say that Nas has a more approachable style as well because he doesn't have the same harsh, beat-you-over-the-head-with-what-I'm-saying style that Tech has. Nas usually has a message, but it's woven in with other thoughts and tales of a regular person with multiple daily experiences and even contradictions in his own life. Tech is more narrowly defined at this point as a hardcore, revolutionary, politically-motivated MC. That's his focus. And, if you read about his story, you can see why, or rather how this came to be. And, I'm not saying it's a bad thing. It's not wrong to want to make your music be about something. But, while I am interested to hear what he has to say, because he is so specific in his approach all the time I gotta be honest and say that sometimes I'm just not in the mood. There was a time, especially during Bush's second term in the white house that I could (and did) have an album like Revolutionary Vol.2 on repeat. But, usually I much rather prefer MCs that are educated and have a message, but allow it to fit into their rhymes of everyday life. That's just my style. But, in Technique's realm of rhymes there's really no one that can touch him, Dead Prez included.

When it comes to flow, I just find Nas' gift of putting words together to be better and more interesting when it comes to breaking down the lines. Tech is much more direct, and not as creative poetically - though his story-telling skills are potent as evidenced by "Dance With The Devil" and several others.

There's no doubt that Immortal Technique is a dope MC and a man using the culture he is a part of to further an important message and hopefully mobilize a nation full of complacent citizens into action in many forms. Nas, on the other hand is a street poet. A man with many sides (which he displays in songs) that also takes on the responsibility of reporting to a larger world the things going on in his.

In the end, we should thank hip hop for both MCs as they both bring a lot to the table and make this art form interesting with every rhyme. Both are MCs I can't wait to hear every time I see a new song/album out that they have done. I hope they both continue to make music for a long time.
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