Dance with the Devil

Topics: Seven deadly sins, Sin Pages: 8 (2748 words) Published: May 16, 2010
Immortal Technique tells the semi-fictional tale of a young man and his self-destructive path in “Dance with the Devil.” The story is riddled with causality, biblical and spiritual references, and overtones of socio-ethnic observations. The listener follows “Billy Jacobs” along his gradual descent into corruption; from small time drug deals to rape and murder. Immortal Technique is able to narrate a horrific timeline all the while filling every single verse with injections of commentary ranging from mythological and religious ethics, such as The Seven Deadly Sins and Oedipus, to American cultural values and racial identities. “Dance with the Devil” could easily be considered as the 20th Century, Hip-hop version of “Oedipus Rex.” In the story of Oedipus, it is foretold that he will grow up to kill his father and marry his mother; and by the end of the myth, it is Oedipus’ stubbornness, violent nature, and over-inflated sense of self-worth that dooms him to his horrible fate. These personality traits dominate the actions of Billy Jacobs in much of the same manner. In both stories, the character is estranged with his parents, and seeks means to escape any ties with them. In the story of Oedipus, this distance is one of complete ignorance. Whereas in “Dance with the Devil,” the distance is a gradual slope due to the lack of a father and a drug addicted mother. Oedipus’ incessant search to rid the city of Thebes of the plague that he created stems from his belief that his overall superiority can solve any problem he is faced with. Billy Jacobs’ obsession with the “Scarface Fantasy” (1) and the gangster life-style is the drive that leads to his ultimate destruction. Both characters achieve their fate by violent means, the only difference in the stories is that Oedipus kills his father, and Billy Jacobs violently rapes and kills his mother. The end result of “Dance with the Devil” also parallels the story of Oedipus, and is made blatantly so as it is essentially the end of the narration and therefore the story. Upon learning the truth of their actions, both characters die from a self-inflicted act. Oedipus stabs his eyes out and eventually dies a slow, lonely death, whereas Billy Jacobs immediately leaps from the building. The largest rhetorical difference between the two stories is the ability of the background music in “Dance with the Devil” to more powerfully emphasize the actions of the main character. The story begins with a relaxing, repetitive piano calmly playing as Immortal Technique narrates a dark and terrible life. The music changes however when the story takes either an ominous and sinister turn, or when it changes from omniscient narration to an inner monologue of Billy’s thoughts. Upon returning to the piano at the start of the second hook, Billy has just agreed to the pre-meditated rape of a random woman, and the piano is played one octave lower initially to further emphasize how his actions are taking him to a deeper and shadier place. Then in verse 3 at location (2), the piano returns once again, however this time the story has advanced to that which the well-defined piano strokes that were relatively meaningless at the start of the song, now emulate the falling rain as well as the tears of Billy’s mother. This re-entry of the piano is also there to bring the listener back to the start of the story and remind them how far Billy has come. It is also used at point (3) in verse 4 to remove the listener from the story and act as a transition from a narration to a message of warning from the narrator. The use of music in “Dance with the Devil” is able to replace much of the narrative aspects that are needed in the story of Oedipus, and is used to wordlessly display emotive aspects of the Billy’s path.

The least versed of all of the commentary in “Dance with the Devil” is the cause-and-effect parallels that Immortal Technique draws between people in Billy’s position and social statuses...
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