Three weeks ago my cousin Nic hit me up and asked me if he could treat me to the Immortal Technique and Brother Ali War & Peace Tour stop in Madison, Wisconsin at the Barrymore Theatre on Saturday, September 22nd.  My cousin wanted to thank me for all of the times I hosted him and his friends during our annual Breakin’ The Law Festival where he was introduced to Breaking Culture.  I was quick to take him up on the offer.  The concert fell on the same day as a Breaking exhibition and workshop the Goddistas and other local bboys from the East Madison Community Center, including Dance Maniacz Crew, were asked to be part of at Willy Street Fest. My cousins and uncle came into town and we had a Hip Hop inspired mini family reunion.

Kevin IMBA

Ask any Bboy or Bgirl about going to a Jam and you’re sure to hear about the family reunion vibe that brings people together.  The sense of community the Jam evokes is a major part of the experience.  Leave it to two community minded Emcees, Immortal Technique and Brother Ali, to evoke a similar vibe.   As soon as I arrived at the show, I found myself in a cypher of reconnection with local Emcees I hadn’t seen in years.  After about 20 minutes of building with the I Need A Raise Records Crew, I headed into the packed theater to check out the concert.  I found a perfect spot to post up and the energy of the place hit me instantly.  MadTown was in full effect giving love and vibing out.

Katrina IMBA

As a Bgirl, going to a Hip Hop concert can often leave me feeling unfulfilled in comparison to the energy and community-building vibe a Jam brings to the floor.  While I wasn’t able to get down, the cypher was still in effect from the community building conversation circles to the impromptu cypher after the concert by local spitters.  While the mainstream media has by-and-large created a view of Hip Hop that is only Rap, Immortal Technique waxed poetic and powerful by blasting the mainstream media’s narrow view.  He gave due credit to his DJ, who did his own mini-set, while schooling many in the audience to the history of the DJs role in birthing Hip Hop.  He called for recognition of Hip Hop as a culture and gave big ups to Bboys, Bgirls, and Graffiti Writers for keeping the culture alive.

As a community organizer, I was also inspired by what I saw and heard.  Both Immortal Technique and Brother Ali made it a point to thank the workers behind the scenes that made the concert possible from the sound engineers to the cleaning crew.  Brother Ali spoke to the importance of unions and the 2011 Wisconsin Protests while complicating the dialogue saying, “We all know that there have always been problematic issues regarding race and gender in unions and we need to continue pushing them while working with them particularly with the current attacks on working class people.”

Immortal Technique talked about his experiences with the music industry trying to censor him and how these interactions have positioned him to stay an independent artist all-the-while maintaining his success.  He critiqued the mainstream media saying, “Don’t call me, talking about what is going on in the world, controversial. Call what is being done by these corporate and wealthy fools controversial.”


As a Goddista, I was intrigued to hear Immortal Technique address gendered issues in society both by calling for an end to violence against women and heralding the contributions of women in the revolution.  He stopped the music and got personal with us.  He bent down and said that rape was no joke.  He talked about violence against women as a serious issue men needed to do more to educate themselves on.  He followed this up with a soliloquy on how important women have been to revolutions across histories and time.  He said, “Women have always been at the forefront of revolutions and we need to remember and celebrate that.”

Immortal Technique and Brother Ali were masters on the mic that night.  Their voices rang clear and their messages traveled throughout the minds, bodies and souls present. At one point, Immortal Technique engaged the entire audience collectively to hold some overly rowdy peeps accountable by getting everyone to literally point their fingers towards one of the offenders and in unison everyone told him to, “Chill out and enjoy the show.”  Immortal Technique ended the disruptions by saying, “If we can’t have a peaceful Hip Hop show, how the fuck are we going to have a revolution?”  Any large show is going to have a few folks who act out but rarely do the artists themselves take responsibility for creating a safe space.


Without further incident, the show ended in one of the most beautiful finales I’ve witnessed at a concert.  Immortal Technique and Brother Ali both ended the night by walking the talk.  They walked themselves to the exit doors of the venue and had conversations, took photos, and built with everyone who stayed in line to talk with them.  The beauty of the Breaking Community is the realness and humility of the practitioners.  Aspiring Bboys and Bgirls can reach out and be in community with the people they look up to.  That reality isn’t often replicated in the realm of Rap.  But at the War & Peace Tour in Madison, Immortal Technique and Brother Ali embodied Real-Talk, Real-Walk Hip Hop Culture.


No one has said anything yet.

Leave a Comment

© Copyright Goddistas Crew. All Rights Reserved.