Atom Tha Immortal interview
12-28-2009, 08:02 PM
Atom Tha Immortal interview
WRTE 90.5fm Chicago interviewed Atom Tha Immortal and used questions I formulated for them. Here is the exclusive interview that will be published in their next monthly issue. Shout outs to DJ Rev for the hook up!
Atom gives me and Oobe a big shout out!
WRTE: On Christmas day of this year will make your first anniversary of Son Of Slaves and Lords album since its release. How has the reception and feedback been from that album?
Atom:The feedback has been great, even though far fewer people have downloaded it than I thought would, being a free album. I haven't heard anything negative about the album and a lot of people have expressed gratitude for my making it available for free. It didn't blow up, but then again, I haven't promoted it at all. It is simply being spread by word of mouth at this point, which I'm fine with. If people enjoy it, then great. Hopefully they tell their friends.
WRTE: Son of Slaves and Lords is your only album that is not for sale, but rather is it available as a free digital download on your personal website. What made you decide to release it in that way?
Atom: I spent a lot of time working on SOSAL (Son of Slaves and Lords), trying to perfect every aspect of it. Trying to really craft a near perfect album. After so much time spent toiling on it we had trouble clearing some of the samples. So after some thought I felt like I should just release it non-commercially. I don't make much money of my albums either way, so it wasn't that hard of a decision to make. I figured maybe I could get people to donate to charities instead, such as FavorofGod.org, which are doing useful work in helping others. Hopefully everyone is blessed in the process.
WRTE: The production of Son of Slaves and Lords features an array of different sounds and styles that sets apart from your previous albums. Can you talk about the production and the producers that were part of SOSAL?
Atom: I was really fortunate to have some top notch producers provide tracks for Son of Slaves and Lords. Righteouz Knight, Skitch Beatz, and Ilias provided incredible tracks for three of the songs. The rest of them were produced by me. I've been deeply into Andean music for some time, and a lot of that found its way into this album. There are even some tracks (Bolivian Streets, Acropolis) where I play traditional Andean flutes (Zamponas and Quena). I picked up a charango on my last trip to South America (2008), so you'll probably get even more of it in the future.
A lot of the other tracks feature more traditional "Atom" sounds, such as classical music samples and instrumentation (The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, Messiah Lion, Organizate, Magen David).
I did expand my use of electronic instruments and began working in a new system (Sonar w/ Reason), so that may also be why the tracks sound slightly fuller and more experimental.
WRTE: It seems you shifted your Christian themes from your previous first and second album to create a more politically charged Son of Slaves and Lords album, emphasizing the socio-economical inequalities and historical significant in Latin America. What caused and/or inspired this shift of theme?
Atom: Well, there are many layers here. I wouldn't say I shifted or shied away from explicitly Christian themes on this album. They're there, in the open. In songs such as Messiah Lion, Acropolis, Magen David, Nazca, and Rise and Fall, you can hear the same message: Jesus is Messiah and is life. That's really the only message I have.
But you're right in suggesting SOSAL is much more political and social than my previous two albums. The songs "Bolivian Streets" and "Los Pobres" pretty much tell the story of what happened to me, in terms of my political shift. The story at the beginning of Los Pobres about the child dancing for change...that really took place when I was riding on a bus in Lima, Peru. Seeing those kinds of things wear on you and challenge you. Seeing grown men in La Paz shine shoes on street corners with ski masks on so that they wouldn't feel ashamed. At some point you have to ask yourself "Why is this the case and why am I not doing anything about it?" Basically, I came under conviction from G-d...I was too busy trying to be "righteous" to do anything to help hurting people. And it killed me inside.
When I can back from my first trip from South America, I began to really think about what I could do and who I really was. Seeing the reality of post-colonization really changed my views politically as well. I realized that all the easy answers I told myself to explain why poor nations exist and poor people struggle to live were lies. It wasn't because they didn't work hard or were stupid or lazy. I saw some of the hardest working people in my life, people working harder than any American I had known. Yet they struggled just to eat. It wasn't because they didn't love "freedom" or "democracy" - people in Latin America have a deep understanding of what it means to fight for your freedom. So basically, one by one, all my excuses failed. And I realized, we're just incredibly fortunate in the US, to the point of being calloused and spoiled, and the industrialized West has long been parasitic on the natural wealth of the rest of the world. "Open Veins of Latin America" by Eduardo Galeano was a book that help me to place together the clues I had gotten into a coherent picture that actually made sense with the facts on the ground. My previous political outlook ran into reality and got destroyed, so I really didn't know how to make sense of the situation. I was just left with a bunch of puzzling images and facts, until I began studying the history of my continents and people. My study continues to this day.
WRTE: During your trip throughout Latin America, what influenced you the most?
Atom: There were three things I'd say that stood out the most. The first, I have already mentioned, was the socio-economic situation I hadn't been prepared for. The second big impression was the amazing sophistication and intelligence of historical American peoples, like the Aymara, Qechua (Inka), Nasca, and Maya. These civilizations were incredible and huge. The book "1491" gives a good understanding of just how populated and urban the Americas were, especially Central and South America, prior to European contact. Walking in Machu Picchu or seeing the Nazca Lines give you a deep appreciation for the cultures we lost.
Lastly, I got violently sick during my stay in Bolivia, which was one of the most grueling experiences I have lived through. I lost close to 25 pounds in a short time due to a stomach infection and was bedridden for days. I remember one day in the hotel, I had just gotten up from bed to use the bathroom (all I could do, really) and I saw a skinny, gaunt figure in the mirror. I looked like death. I remember feeling it was the first time I wasn't afraid to die and I actually felt relieved, since I knew that life or death, I'd be ok. It's hard to explain, but it left a strong impression on me.
WRTE: Any tips and/or recommendations from your trip throughout Latin America? Which countries specifically did you visit?
Atom: Yes, do it! It is a wonderful experience, and a difficult one. Practical tips are to pack lots of ziplock bags and plastic bags (for dirty clothing, toiletries, and other things), since I found they come in handy when traveling internationally. Try to learn the local bus or subway system, since that will save you tons of money by not taking taxi cabs. Learn the language, bring a grammar book to study while you're there. And always ask to see the hotel room before you pay for it. You'll want to do this (and check that they have hot water as well, many lower-end hotels in South America do not).
For countries, I've been to Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Mexico, Uruguay, Paraguay, Honduras, Belize, Chile, and Guatemala, as well as places in the Caribbean, like Puerto Rico (my homeland) and La Habana.
Depending on your tolerance for roughing it, the trips I'd recommmend would be different. You could do a pretty comfortable trip to Cusco, Peru and Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu), taking planes around. If you're up for 20 hour bus rides through the Andes, you can get around for pretty cheap between Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. Argentina is nice because it is highly industrialized and Buenos Aires is just cool. It is like any big city in the US or (from what I hear) Europe. Cusco is just beautiful and amazing. Bolivia is tough, but an experience for sure. Just get a travel book (Lonely Planet) and go.
WRTE: Rumors have circulated among fans throughout Myspace and the Internet about a new music video for your track - Los Pobres - in the works. Can you elaborate on that?
Atom: Basically all the raw footage for that was shot during my last trip through South America and it is waiting to be edited. It has live footage from Machu Picchu, Chan Chan (the largest Adobe city in the world), Pisac, and other indigenous spots in Latin America. The feel should be similar to the Freedom music video. I don't know when the video will be ready, but it should provide some nice visuals to give people a glimpse into the wonder of Latin America.
WRTE: What upcoming plans or projects do you have ahead? Any new albums, or collaborations on other artists' music?
Atom: For now, I've spent the past year trying to collect my thoughts about what I want to do next musically. I feel that three albums is a good number and I am especially happy with the final SOSAL, how it turned out. I don't know if I can ever make an album to top that one, which was me pouring out 100% of myself into an album.
I do want to do more music in the future, and I have a hope for setting up a system where I can basically release new songs as I finish them and allow users to download and purchase them on my site (atomthaimmortal.com), directly. I think this will allow me to be more creative, not having to worry about whether or not a song fits into an overall album or not. Albums have their place, but I think at this point I may just leave the trilogy of albums as they are and begin releasing individual songs as I create them.
There is a new Secta 7 album that has been in the works, where I'm featured on a few of the tracks. I also have a collaboration project with my wife Luz, along the lines of the "Messiah Lion" track from SOSAL. I don't know how to really classify it, but that is the sound we're going for: Hip-hop beats with nice vocal layers and classical/folk instrumentation. I'm hoping to begin on that project next.
WRTE: You have signed with Regen Records to re-release your first and second album. Any news or updates regarding your engagement with Regen?
Atom: The contract I had with Regen was just for re-release of the first two albums. We were considering releasing SOSAL on that label, but ran into the sample clearance issues mentioned before. They're a small label that does internet distribution primarily and are very professional and are great to work with.
However, I am free from their label in terms of any future projects.
WRTE: Many consider you as a part-time and/or Myspace rapper. How would you describe your role in the Hip-Hop community?
Atom: I do music because I miss the music I grew up listening to in the 90's. Wu-tang Clan, Boogiemonstas, Oldominion, Canibus, DiRT, Tunnel Rats, Future Shock. I miss that real sharp lyricism and gritty beat making. That's why I started recording, because I wanted music to listen to and to just be fresh on the mic, as sick as I could possibly be.
So music has not paid any bills to this point. I do have three university degrees and am currently in graduate school working on a fourth. I make my money in other ways, so I'm not pressured to make commercial music. If people don't like my music, it's fine. I make the music I want to hear and say what is on my mind. I'm not a part-time rapper, I'm just a guy with a G-dgiven ability to create music.
WRTE: Who are your top 5 favorite artists and why?
Atom: Tough question. I listen to a ton of music, so my favorite artists/acts aren't necessarily Hip-Hop MCs.
My top five groups or artists are:
1) Canibus - When he's on top of his game, no one can touch him lyrically. He's a genius, was way ahead of his time.
2) (Tie) Illapu and Inti Illimani - These are Andean folk groups and I just love the music. This is what I usually listen to...that and salsa music.
3) Wu-tang Clan / Killah Priest / Extended family - Their music still stands the test of time. They changed music for me. It was through their group that I really began to love lyricism.
4) Jedi Mind Tricks - The production is incredible and the lyricism is sharp. They continue in the tradition of hard core Hip-Hop that I grew to love.
5) Portishead - They're completely original in what they do and I have great admiration for them musically.
Honorable mentions include: System of a Down, Muse, Julieta Venegas, Buena Vista Social Club (Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer, Eliades Ochoa), The Cure, Immortal Technique (another incredibly talented lyricist), Africando, Tito Nieves, Linkin Park, Mos Def and Bob Marley (of course.)
WRTE: Any closing comments/statements you will like to make?
Atom: First, I'm grateful and honored for the opportunity to do this interview and give everyone an update as to what's going on with me and the music. I want to thank the true fans like Gerry H and Oobe who have been there showing love for the music and spreading it. G-d gets all credit for anything good in me, and Jesus for giving life in a way that's hard to describe. You have to experience it. I want to thank my wonderful wife Luz, my family, and my Secta 7 family.
If you enjoy the music, please tell others. More importantly, please help others. There are a lot of hurting people on earth and we need to focus on things that matter. Music isn't the most important thing in this world, people are. So hopefully the music helps you to remember those things that count.
For more information and to cop his music visit
12-30-2009, 06:44 PM
RE: Atom Tha Immortal interview
Thank you so much for this interview! I respect Atom tha Immortal a lot and find his music to be brilliant! This interview informed me on his most recent updates! Atom tha Immortal is a must heard for all of you that have not heard of him, especially his 3rd sick as fuck album. Atom is the time chamber of our time of hidden gel.