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MUSICIANS OCCUPY WALL STREET: Talib Kweli Wants Us To Spread The Word

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*video shot and edited by Kevin Ornelas

Talib Kweli joined the protesters at Occupy Wall Street last night, giving an impromptu speech and performance using the People's Mic - an awesome invention to amplify sound and spread messages after PA systems and megaphones were outlawed by New York's finest down at the protest (violators can be sent to prison for up to 30 days). To use the People's Mic, the speaker calls out "mic check! mic check!" and the crowd responds with a "mic check!" and then grows silent, waiting  for the speaker to begin. The crowd then repeats what the speaker says, sentence-by-sentence, so that everyone in the area can hear it - rippling it back to the far reaches of the park. Check it out above.

Politicaly-engaged Kweli has been on board with the protesters from the beginning, tweeting about it several times in the past few weeks - although this was his first trip down to the park. Using the People's Mic, Kweli said the following:

I'm at a loss for words. 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.

Kweli later added, "this is the most American thing I've seen in my lifetime. I had to come down and see it for myself, so I could tell everyone about it."

Okayafrica encourages you to get involved. More details to come soon, but for now, we can all bite Kweli, and tweet the following: "Here with the 99% #occupywallstreet.”

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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