#TBT Divino DeNegro talks with Immortal Technique @ BK Bowl (2012)
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Originally posted on BrooklynBodega.com
On Decemeber 18th, 2012, while at the Sandy Relief event which featured, the Rebel Armz, Immortal Technique, Akir, Poison Pen, Swave Sevah, Pumpkinhead, C-Rayz Walz, Rebel Diaz, Hasan Salaam, Majesty, Jean Grae, Pharoahe Monch & others, I got a chance to converse with Tech about the organization of the Sandy Relief show, its effects and the overall charitable events that Hip-Hop continuously creates in the face of major catastrophes.
DD: You spoke about doing a Sandy Relief as soon as the storm hit, is this a first of a series of efforts regarding Sandy?
IT: There are donations that I made before, but this is something I brought together, from a collaborative effort with other people. I had Occupy (Wall Street), come in with me. I feel that when we work together as a unit, we can get more numbers, we can have more people here. It was honestly a more pleasant experience to have so many people willing to back something like this. It felt like people really gave a shit and that was inspirational for someone like me, who’s used to having to deal with these things alone. So, I think, that when we talk about benefit shows, the most important thing that we have to keep in mind is, transparency. That was something that we built on very much, to show the people and to document it and to say “Hey, this is how much money we raised. This is physically, the money we have, that we got from there.” Not that we’re taking this money out for here and this disappears, so that somebody can pay for their cab, or their new shirt, or fucking rent! No, 100% of the money that the people paid to get the fuck in here for, is going to go to individuals that literally have nothing. We’re talking about people, who have fallen between the cracks. We’re also talking about undocumented workers, people that have helped to run Brooklyn and helped to run Long Island and kept businesses going. Undocumented workers who have taken care of peoples’ children, while parents are at work, who are literally at loss because they don’t qualify for some of these “funds”, that people in Brooklyn aren’t even getting, because the federal can’t seem to move a trailer from New Jersey to Brooklyn.
DD: I remember going to the event page of tonight’s relief page and someone asked about where the proceeds were going and how would we know that.
IT: Documentation. It wouldn’t be a hard question to answer because, I enjoy things like that, because it gives me the opportunity to show people, how different the organizations I get involved with are from other charity organizations. Dude! There are people who make more money than I do, my G, and they still want a cut of charity money! Because that’s their business strategy. My business is music and charity is what I love to do, so why would I take from people who have less than me? This ain’t politics, that’s not my life! Like now it’s become my living to make money, so that I can pretend like I’m giving it to other people. That’s just disingenuous.
DD: I remember when the earthquake hit Chile, or another earthquake that hit Haiti, or when people were trying to send benefits to Afghanistan, there were very strict channels, that people felt they were able to donate to, yet they didn’t trust the honesty of these channels. Then Hip-Hop responded, especially in New York City, with a lot of shows. Do you think these strings of benefit shows can get people to lay back during these catastrophes by going to an event, donating some money and not necessarily having to physically volunteer, since their donations help the people who are physically volunteering?
IT: I think that it could help people do that. But, at the end of the day, the only thing that helps people do that, is when you’re completely transparent with people and you show them the physical results. Like, “Look we had 500 people come out, we raised $8000, this is exactly how much money we took and spent toward this and this. As long as the math adds up, I guarantee you that people are going to be satisfied by what we did. Math only starts to get complicated when you start to put the alphabet into it. You know? We’re only speaking about numbers right now. Numbers are the most simple to calculate my brother, so there’s no way that we could sit here and play games and embezzle money, because that’s what other people do. It’s our job to sit there and speak with the people that are unfortunately being forgotten by the federal government. And this is the basic premise of it. And we work with Occupy, because they have people on the ground and they know the people personally. They’re there with them all time, trying to help them with 1 thing or another, and now we finally have the funds to bring through some emergency relief to people who are living in a time of commercialized holidays for the rest of the world, who is enjoying life or mourning the loss of life and their struggle and their pain is unfortunately overlooked.
With Haiti, I think that was the core part of it, that I had to be personally involved with it myself. With Afghanistan, that was also the issue. I had to be personally involved with it myself, so that there wasn’t any question of impropriety or any question of where the funds were going to go, because it’s on my shoulders. I’m not sitting here play a game. Divino, my reputation is very important to me and I think that when people try even attack that, they’d have to break into my system and hack my numbers, because I take great pride in every single time that try and do something, making sure that the money goes toward a good cause.
DD: What’s your understanding, right now, of the state of Haiti, at this moment?
IT: When I went down there, I saw how unfortunate the circumstances really were. I think that other people that live in this country (U.S.), wouldn’t be ready to see that if they hadn’t been prepared for it. It’s led with a poverty that supersedes anything that there is in America. Unfortunately, the new government that’s in place, might not have the will or the ability to address the needs of the people. And we’re going to know that just within a few months, with them either doing something or nothing, which will be incredibly obvious.
Also, a thing that is very important about Haiti, is that the rift and racial tension, between them and the Dominican Republic, needs to finally be addressed in public. Because, it’s going to help create a link between the Black & Latino community, to stop the insanity and stop the violence in the West coast, to make sure that we can bring these things to light, so that they may stop happening.
DD: Concerning Occupy, where it was in it’s peak of popularity, over a year ago and right now, where exactly is Occupy Wall Street and how is it operating, or is it operating at all? And how is it moving along?
IT: I think that Occupy still has a lot of strength, a lot of power, to inform people and it’s like the undigested news. They’re going to tell you what’s going on in the street, they can speak from experience and yes, there are a lot of colorful personalities there, that can make it an interesting thing to work with, but I can say that Jason Samuel and the rest of the people from Occupy Sandy and Music for Occupy, have been nothing but helpful in facilitating all the things that we’ve done. To me, it’s been a plus/plus. I do what I love and help people.
DD: Any last words?
IT: If you want to contact me, reach me at viperrecords.com or @ImmortalTech (twitter). I’m open to discussion, dialog and conversation. “The Martyr” can be downloaded for free on viperrecords.com, “(R)evolution of Immortal Technique” the documentary is out.
DD: Shout out to the Harlem International Film Festival for putting that together. Are you going to be involved in any other film festivals?
IT: Maybe, but I’m not going to do anymore documentaries about myself.
DD: And the state of the “Middle Passage”?
IT: Hopefully 2013, we’re like 6 or 7 songs in.
DD: I think you’re as anticipated with Dre’s “Detox”, RZA’s “The Cure” and for Christians, “The return of Jesus”.
IT: (Laughter) We’ll try to get it done before all of that.