Immortal Technique's Afghan Adventure

Independent rapper takes a break from Bay Area trip to talk politics, life, music and feeling whole

By Sajid Farooq
|  Friday, Sep 2, 2011  |  Updated 5:49 PM PDT
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Rocking the Bells

Immortal Technique stands before a war ravaged home in Afghanistan. "The bullet holes, the tank shells, RPG fragments, and the metal folded like paper tell a story. You just have to have the stomach to listen."

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Immortal Technique feels a little empty inside.

This week, the politically-charged rapper, whose real name is Felipe Andres Coronel, was one of the headlining performers at "Rock the Bells" in Mountain View.

"It feels empty to be doing 'Rock the Bells' and music only in San Francisco as opposed to working with the causes I've worked with in the past," he said.

Sitting in a private trailer backstage at the hip hop festival that featured artists such as Lauryn Hill, Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Cypress Hill, Coronel took a few moments before his performance to talk about his latest charitable works and his upcoming album.

Immortal Technique's rugged exterior is as intense as his lyrics. Before his performance at "Rock the Bells," walked around backstage with an entourage that looked like a group best left alone.

But beyond the intense exterior, there is a soft core and a big heart that Coronel is all too eager to talk about if given the opportunity.

"Every time that I've come here I've always had some sort of agenda," he said. "What I don't like about this time at Rock the Bells is that we don't have built in in conjunction (charity work)."

On previous visits to the Bay Area, not only did the rapper perform his unique brand of hip hop, but Technique took the opportunity to meet with several non-profit organizations and community groups.

"Last time I was here, I had to sit with a youth group in Oakland," he said. "Times I've come before, I've sat with a juvenile youth detention center. Of course I've done a few of these fundraisers for the orphanage in Afghanistan."

It may be his work with Omeid International, a Bay Area-based non-profit organization that is building a school for orphans in Afghanistan that is dearest to his heart.

The rapper has traveled to Afghanistan to help build the school and see the rigors of war first hand.

A recent three week visit to the war-ravaged country was filmed and turned into a documentary movie that will premiere at the New York Film Festival on Sept. 7.

The movie shows the school being built, Technique and Omeid volunteers building beds and helping children with their health.

Being able to see the school being built from the ground up was important for the rapper, who  wants to show the human side of war.

After its New York premiere, Technique wants to bring the movie to Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

He says he thinks a lot of the issues explored in the documentary will hit home for people in the Bay Area.

And he says even people outside of Little Kabul in Fremont can learn about how Afghans are really dealing with the way and trying to move on with their lives.

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