Talib Kweli showed up in Zuccotti Park Thursday night to perform for the protesters of Occupy Wall Street.
After a lengthy General Assembly meeting that had left some protesters feeling spent and frustrated, Kweli arrived and stepped up onto the stone bench that is being used as a podium.
Kweli is soft-spoken, and the occupation is not allowed amplification. The listeners crowded round him in a seated circle, quiet, cameras aloft.
Kweli told the audience that he used to tell everyone “If you were the coolest, most interesting person where you live at, at some point in your life, you have to come to New York City. You have to walk down Broadway. Me being from New York, I’m proud to say, that now I can say: at some point, if you are the most interesting person in your city, at some point you have to occupy Wall Street.”
Then Kweli launched into an a capella rendition of “Distractions,” a new song from his upcoming project.
After a second song, Black Star’s “Thieves in the Night,” Kweli addressed the protesters briefly.
“I’m at a loss for words,” he said. “But even me being at a loss for words, is amplified. They want to know what the end game is? This is the endgame. You doing your job, everybody here with a camera, everybody here with a camera, everybody here with a smartphone, everybody here with a voice. Do your job, and spread the word. For the people who are sleeping here, you inspire us. If you are inspired by them, make it grow. This is the endgame. It’s about growth now. We have to grow. And that’s the point. I love y’all.”
Walking up Broadway afterwards, he told The Voice this had been his first visit to the occupation, but he has been following it closely.
“This is the most American thing I’ve seen in my lifetime,” he said. “I had to come down and see it for myself, so I could tell everyone about it.”
Here’s Kweli performing part of “Distractions”:
And here he is with encouragement to the protesters: