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Born Felipe Coronel in a military hospital in Lima, Peru, in 1978, Immortal Technique moved to Harlem with his parents when he was two years old. At age nine he started rapping, though he didn't start to take it more seriously until he was in high school. Despite the fact he was in and out of trouble throughout his teenage years, Tech was accepted at Penn State University, but before he could get through much of college, he was arrested and eventually ended up spending a year in prison. It was there that he began to study the lives and teachings of black and Latino revolutionaries like Che Guevara and Malcolm X, as well as to devote himself to writing songs. Out in 1999, on parole, he moved back to New York, where he spent his days working various jobs and his nights battling other rappers, a forum that allowed him the opportunity to show off his aggressive, vituperative style.
Concerned that he was being pigeonholed as a one-trick pony, Tech set about writing complete tracks, finding beats to accompany them, and eventually releasing his debut, Revolutionary, Vol. 1, in 2001 (an album that was later re-released by his own company, Viper Records, in 2004 and Babygrande in 2005). The record, plus his indefatigable work ethic, earned him local recognition and a spot as The Source's "unsigned hype" in November 2002, and the following year he issued his second album, Revolutionary, Vol. 2. Although he promised his third release would see the light of day in 2005, it wasn't until the summer of 2007 that — besides a few singles and mixtapes — fans got any new material from Immortal Technique, coming in the form of the full-length The Middle Passage.