April 14, 2011

Immortal Technique - Dance With The Devil

Back in 2002 I heard Immortal Technique’s debut album Revolutionary Vol. 1 and instantly knew that it was something special. But despite there being many stand out tracks, Dance with the Devil was by far the most intriguing and disturbing track that I’d heard in a very long time. At the end of the track I instantly had to press rewind and do a double take, did I really just hear that?

I remember the initial emotional confliction of being so happy to have discovered something so brilliant whilst at the same time feeling deeply uncomfortable with its content. But on successive listens the true magnitude of the track really came to life and for me this was storytelling emceeing at its finest. With material like this it didn't matter that Immortal Technique didn’t have the backing of a major label or distributor, word of mouth amongst knowledgeable underground fans was enough to stir up interest and achieve critical acclaim. Or was it?

The one caveat in all of this is that without a record label or other financial backing, producing a decent music video to promote your material is almost impossible. For me, this track was screaming out for a video that would compliment the story and focus the listener, in much the same way that the Gang Starr video for Just to get a Rep did. Well, fast forward a year or two and director Daniel Zhao did make a video for it.

It’s a well executed attempt that mirrors the dark and sinister message of the song, and Zhao has utilised lighting and shadows to great effect to create a video that’s distinctive from most other rap videos. However, my initial enthusiasm for a visual accompaniment to this song quickly dwindled as I realised that what made this song so incredible the first time I heard it was the disturbing and graphic picture that my imagination had conjured up. This is a classic example of the book being better than the film, sometimes there just isn’t a visual that can be effective enough to tell the story as well as it deserves.

Conclusion – Whilst the video may not live up to my expectation, it does have more than 300,000 hits on YouTube (more than Immortal Techniques total sales figures) so it has certainly had the desired effect of taking his music to a wider audience.
It’s a quality piece of work and conveys the songs message without the need for graphic detail, but I’ll let you decide for yourself whether it’s better to close your eyes when you listen to this track or keep them open and watch the video.

Download Link (Hotfile - 60mb)

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