The walkout song is a time-honored tradition in MMA. It's also a delicate balancing act. The perfect song has to pump a fighter up while settling his/her nerves, appeal to the crowd without appearing to pander. "My Walkout Song" is where we ask MMA fans who also happen to be famous musicians what makes for great pre-fight music and what song they would choose to accompany their walk to the cage.
Immortal Technique is a mouthful. Both literally and figuratively. And when Felipe Andres Coronel, the proper name of the aforementioned Mr. Technique gets warmed up (and it takes about 15 seconds for this to happen), it's like adding a hellfire switch to your semi-auto. Meaning: Everybody on the business end of his business is getting it straight in the chest. And while there are lots of opinionated assholes walking around New York, being opinionated and well-informed? Apparently a rarity. So it was with great delight that we got to chat with the African-American-Peruvian Harlemite whose music has clumsily been called "reality rap" but whose approach to music has been the spearpoint for him keeping it beyond real in sidestepping labels and going DIY as hard, as long and as successfully as he has. Add to that his firsthand experience in the world of martial arts and the fact that former UFC champion "Suga” Rashad Evans came out to one of Technique's songs on his way to go knockout Chuck Lidell, and you’ve got the perfect guy to answer the question for the ages:
Best walkout anthem ever?
Fightland: So, they tell me you actually trained. True, bullshit, or true bullshit?
Immortal Technique: When I was in prison, I got out in 1999 ...
What were you in for?
Some stupid street shit. But I was 167 pounds and I was doing about 600 sit-ups a day, 700 push-ups, and ...
What are you now?
Oh man. I weigh 190 now. At 5'9". But when I toured with Chino XL we'd always find a spot to train on tour. Go to a gym or something. Not just to look good or some shit like that but because the key to good mental health is good physical health. Good spiritual health? Good physical health. This is not superstition or religion. This is just fact. Feed your body good things and your mind will reward you.
And martial arts?
I trained from about the age of 14 to 18 years old. In Harlem with this guy whose name I don't want to mention. But he taught us a mixture of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and just plain old street fighting. It wasn't about belts for him though. No shiny new uniforms. You advance by getting more responsibility. And ultimately teaching others. So it wasn't so much about kicking ass. It was life lessons. Like "Why are you fighting to the death with a man who is not your enemy?"
He also told us that while we were playing video games or getting high or whatever that there was someone else out there training. We wanted to be those guys training. And all of that badass shit? It was all discouraged. Fuck it, his name was Mr. Thompson. He made a difference.
Okay, but you've trained and done music. How are you seeing these things connecting?
Music has always been used in war. Trumpets carried in the legions of war in Rome. The Polish cavalry used to wear these wooden wings on their backs so that when they rode into battle the whistling noise sounded like wailing and would scare the other side and spook their horses. There are drum corps. Even in modern wars. And the idea is that you want to throw your opponent off, get inside his head by doing music that somehow relates to him. And if you are fighting and it's not your song, you're not thinking about the song except to get pumped up. You know what it is. You're just thinking about breaking your opponent's arm or something.
So what would you use?
Some powerful drums. Some deep bass. And I'd do it like a battle rap. Either innuendo or a direct threat. But fuck it. We don't need threats [laughs]: We're going into the Octagon!
And which song?
Well Rashad Evans used my song "Point of No Return" when he knocked out Chuck Liddell.
But which song would you use for you?
Either "Dance With The Devil"
or "Black Vikings"
So yeah, one of my songs [laughs]. I'm not just a warrior; I'm a business man. Royalties and merchandise!
But really anything that gets you beyond the mythology of fighting and closer to the reality of it. Something that makes it clear to kids on the street that there's both incredible consequence and reward here.
But you know I'd never be using this for me. I'm not getting in the cage. I'm fighting the feds and the IRS. They punch much harder than anybody I ever seen.
Check out these earlier installments of our "My Walkout Song" series:
The Mixed Martial Arts of Victorian London
Before BJJ, there was Bartitsu.
Jonathan Maicelo: The Last Inca
Peru's up-and-coming boxing star.
Kron Gracie on Jiu-Jitsu, Skateboarding, Older Brothers, and Famous Fathers
The ties that bind are strong.
Joel Tudor on the Art of Surfing, Fighting, and Style
A surf icon helps MMA keep its sense of tradition.
Japan's Karate Kid: Kyoji Horiguchi
Japan's brightest MMA prospect.