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Dance with the Devil

By Blaze01 May 16, 2010 2748 Words
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 in America. The story basically shows the twisted and perverted paths that one could follow in an attempt to achieve the most sacred of all American ideals: The American Dream. In the second line of the song, the American Dream is identified as being the focus of Billy’s desires just like it is the focus of all Americans. However, just as reality shows, the American Dream is hopelessly out of reach for most Americans due to their social status, ethnicity, or location of birth. In case the listener doesn’t immediately draw the reference, by point (4) in verse one, Immortal Technique has already defined Billy as a poor black kid living in the ghetto. This combination obviously makes it virtually impossible for him to achieve the American Dream by normal or legal means. Immortal Technique is notorious for his social commentary in his songs, and he repeats common American archetypes throughout “Dance with the Devil.” He makes a dual connection between the darker path to the American Dream, and the “Melting Pot” analogy, which is another common American ideal. In the last line of the hook, he says: “There’s no diversity because we’re all burning in the melting pot.” This line is an amazingly concise and blatant analogy that links not only his American social commentary but his religious and personal corruption commentary as well. He places this analogy at the end of each hook and later elaborates and places a final paragraph at the very end of the song for maximum rhetorical effect. “White, brown, yellow, and black, color is not restricted,” is his final parting message explaining to the listener that you don’t have to be in the same environment that Billy Jacobs was in to have the same devilish corruption.

Another rhetorical choice made by Immortal Technique is the reference to the Seven Deadly (or Cardinal) Sins throughout the story. By the end of the first four lines of verse one, Immortal Technique has identified the character, and defined him by his Envy, Lust, Greed, Gluttony, and Pride. Envious of the rich and powerful, Billy wishes to live a life of excess and have the entire world know of his greatness. As the first verse closes, the only sin not identified with Billy is Wrath, as we see his Slothful behavior leads him to drop out of school. Despite not ever actually speaking about the Seven Deadly Sins together, Immortal Technique emphasizes them individually in rhetorically powerful areas. Five sins are identified within the first four lines of the song; the last word of the first verse is “Greed,” the first few lines in the second verse describe his Wrath, the first time the music changes is a point where Billy is drowning in Envy, and right before the ultimate twist of fate in the song, Billy is feeling a huge swell of Pride. Pride is almost always described as the deadliest of the Cardinal Sins, and Immortal Technique does an incredible job of displaying exactly why that is so. Throughout the story it is the drive to be respected, feared, and looked up to that dominates the actions of Billy Jacobs. But nowhere is his Pride more distinctly identified than the first four lines of verse four. At this point in the story Billy Jacobs has just committed an unbelievable act of horror, and is moments away from another. Instead of feeling guilt or remorse for these heinous acts, Billy feels nothing but absolute Pride. Part of the reason that Pride is often identified as the deadliest sin is because it puts one in a position that rivals God, and was exemplified by the rise of Lucifer. Billy Jacobs feels God-like on top of a building in the rain as he is about to take this woman’s life, and this fills him with courage and strength (4). This absolute fulfillment of the last and final Sin is coupled with the metaphor of removing the shirt cover from the woman’s face. This removal of the shirt represents the last inch of his fleeting humanity being ripped away as he is completely consumed by sin. As the music changes back to the dark and ominous violin, the listener and Billy Jacobs both see exactly how his Dance with the Devil has paid off. Through an absolutely masterfully written four verses, Immortal Technique walks the listener alongside Billy Jacobs in his downward spiral of corruption and self-destruction. With well placed analogies and metaphors drawing from Greek mythology, American Ideals and Biblical teachings, the listener exits the story with a message of morality and a new found awareness of the gravity of the paths they choose to take in life.

Dance with the Devil
By Immortal Technique

[Verse 1]
I once knew a nigga, whose real name was William
His primary concern, was making a million
Being the illest hustler, that the world ever seen
He used to fuck movie stars and sniff coke in his dreams
A corrupted young mind, at the age of thirteen
Nigga never had a father, and his mom was a fiend
She put the pipe down, but for every year she was sober
Her son’s heart simultaneously grew colder
He started hanging out sellin’ bags in the projects
Checking the young chicks, looking for hit and run prospects He was fascinated by material objects
But he understood money never bought respect
He build a reputation, 'cause he could hustle and steal
But got locked once and didn't hesitate to squeal
So criminals he chilled, with didn't think he was real
You see me and niggas like this have never been equal
I don't project my insecurities at other people
He fiended for props like addicts with pipes and needles
So he felt he had to prove to everyone he was evil
A feeble-minded young man with infinite potential
The product of a ghetto bred capitalistic mental (4)
Coincidentally, dropped out of school to sell weed
Dancin’ with the devil, smoked until his eyes would bleed
But he was sick of selling trees and gave in to his greed

[Hook]
Everyone trying to be trife never face the consequences
You probably only did a month, for minor offenses
Ask a nigga doing life, if he had another chance
But then again there's always the wicked that knew in advance Dance forever with the devil on a cold cell block
But that’s what happens when you rape, murder and sell rock Devils used to be god’s angels that fell from the top
There's no diversity because we're burning in the melting pot

[Verse 2]
So Billy started robbing niggas, anything he could do
To get his respect back, in the eyes of his crew
Starting fights over little shit, up on the block
Stepped up to selling mothers and brothers the crack rock
Working overtime for making money for the crack spot
Hit the jackpot and wanted to move up to cocaine
Fulfilling the scarface fantasy stuck in his brain (1)
Tired of the block niggas treating him the same
He wanted to be major, like the cutthroats and the thugs
But when he tried to step to 'em, niggas showed him no love
They told him any motherfucking coward can sell drugs
Any bitch nigga with a gun, can bust slugs
Any nigga with a red shirt can front like a blood
Even Puffy smoked the motherfucker up in a club
But only a real thug can stab someone till they die
Standing in front of them, staring straight into their eyes
Billy realized that these men were well guarded
And they wanted to test him, before business started
Suggested raping a bitch to prove he was cold hearted
So now he had a choice between going back to his life
Or making money with made men, up in the cyph’
His dreams about cars and ice, made him agree
A hardcore nigga is all he ever wanted to be
And so he met them Friday night at a quarter to three

[Hook]

[Verse 3]
They drove around the projects slow while it was raining
Smoking blunts, drinking and joking for entertainment
Until they saw a woman on the street walking alone
Three in the morning, coming back from work, on her way home And so they quietly got out the car and followed her
Walking through the projects, the darkness swallowed her
They wrapped her shirt around her head and knocked her onto the floor This is it kid now you got your chance to be raw
So Billy yoked her up and grabbed the chick by the hair
And dragged her into a lobby that had nobody there
She struggled hard, but they forced her to go up the stairs
They got to the roof and then held her down on the ground
Screaming “Shut the fuck up and stop moving around!” (2) The shirt covered her face, but she screamed the clawed
So Billy stomped on the bitch, until he broken her jaw
Them dirty bastards knew exactly what they were doing
They kicked her until they cracked her ribs and she stopped moving Blood leaking through the cloth, as she cried silently
And then they all proceeded to rape her violently
Billy was meant to go first, but each of them took a turn
Ripping her up, and choking her until her throat burned
Her broken jaw mumbled for god but they weren't concerned
When they were done and she was lying bloody, broken and bruised One of them niggas pulled out a brand new twenty-two
They told him that she was a witness, for what she'd gone through And if he killed her he was guaranteed a spot in the crew
He thought about it for a minute, she was practically dead
And so he leaned over and put the gun right to her head

[Sample from "Survival of the Fittest" by Mobb Deep]
I'm falling and I can't turn back
I'm falling and I can't turn back

[Verse 4]
Right before he pulled the trigger, and ended her life
He thought about the cocaine, with the platinum and ice
And he felt strong standing along with his new brothers (4)
Cocked the gat to her head, and pulled back the shirt cover
But what he saw made him start to cringe and stutter
Cause he was starring into the eyes of his own mother
She looked back at him and cried, cause he had forsaken her
She cried more painfully, than when they were raping her
His whole world stopped, he couldn't even contemplate
His corruption had successfully changed his fate
And he remembered how his mom used to come home late
Working hard for nothing, cause now what was he worth
He turned away from the woman that had once given him birth
And crying out to the sky cause he was lonely and scared
But only the devil responded, cause god wasn't there
And right then he knew what it was to be empty and cold
And so he jumped off the roof and died with no soul (3)
They say death take you to a better place but I doubt it
After that they killed his mother, and never spoke about it
And listen cause the story that I'm telling is true
Cause I was there with Billy Jacobs and I raped his mom too
And now the devil follows me, everywhere that I go
In fact I'm sure he's standing among one of you at my shows
in every street cypher, listening to little thugs flow
He could be standing right next to you, and you wouldn't know (The devil grows inside the hearts of the selfish and wicked White, brown, yellow and black, color is not restricted
You have a self destructive destiny when your inflicted
And you'll be one of god’s children that fell from the top There's no diversity because we're burning in the melting pot So when the devil wants to dance with you, you better say never Because a dance with the devil might last you forever) (5)

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