Talib Kweli lent his leadership and lyricism to the Occupy Wall Street protesters Thursday night in New York's Zuccotti Park. Nearly three weeks into their occupation, the movement has gained strength in numbers.
Kweli is no stranger to taking up social and political causes, but these protests have a firm grasp on his attention. "There's no other place in New York City to be," Kweli said. "People are taking their destiny in their own hands. This is one of the most American, if not the most American, things that I've ever seen.
"When I see things like Occupy Wall Street, I just try to align myself with things that make sense," he continued. "Shame on me if I know something and don't spread it, you know? If I know, it becomes my responsibility to spread the information."
Hundreds of protesters gathered in silence around the pulpit where Kweli stood, rapping a cappella without the aid of a mic. The audience hung on his every syllable as he performed an as-yet-unreleased song, "Distractions," a cutting indictment of American complacency in the face of important issues.
"People are out here from all walks of life, all colors, all classes, people that have jobs, don't have jobs," said Res, Kweli's Idle Warship collaborator. "People just want to get the word out and say, 'Look, we're sick of this, we need a change, and what you guys are doing in the White House is not hitting it.' " Following the performance, Kweli used the protesters' human PA system (the speaker says a few words which are then repeated by the audience) to thank the activists for their dedication.
"They want to know what the end game is?" Kweli asked. "This is the end game."