In the process of evolution, some species die, others get stronger.
The guys and girl of Miami hip-hop fusion crew Cornerstoners and others of their ilk used to be fish, but then they grew legs, left the pond, and started walking the streets of downtown with flyers for the upcoming Fishoutawata Festival at Tobacco Road.
We spoke to the Cornerstoners' Michelangelo Chavarro about doing dumb shit, how music changes lives, and the Colombian hip-hop scene.
Crossfade: Where'd the name come from?
Michelangelo Chavarro: The concept for Fishoutawata is that we consider ourselves like smaller fish compared to say Spam Allstars, who are one of the bigger fish amongst the Miami acts who get bigger shows, better pay, better crowd. We're the underground of the underground with our own style still kind of forming. And this festival is like we grew legs and walked out of the pond that we were living in and started doing our own thing.
What other aspects are there to the fest?
We wanted to incorporate a benefit for at-risk youth. As a kid growing up in a bad neighborhood, I started doing dumb shit. My first open mic changed my life. I wanted to have that represented somehow.
Where was that?
At the Wallflower Gallery in downtown, way back in 2006. And my brother Rio's spot, The Cornerstone was just opening up around that time on Miami Avenue and 20th Street.
Who all is gonna be there at Fishoutawata?
The Miami Film Life Center is going to be showing films, all day, upstairs. Stand Up for Kids is gonna be there with us. Urban Youth Greenfarmers is gonna be there. Universal Zulu Nation is providing hands to help out and they're gonna have their Security Warriors out there. Operation Helping Hands are doing a food drive for the homeless. We're gonna have a Miami-Dade recycling bin for you to bring old cellphones or VCRs instead of just throwing them in the dumpster, y'know. And our biggest sponsor is Car2Go who is helping us make it all happen.
Who put it all together?
My girlfriend Aiyesha did all the logistics and I was more the artistic visionary. And Telekinetic Walrus helped us out a lot.
Who is Cariñito?
Cariñito is a pretty big deal on the Colombian hip-hop scene. This is his first time out of Colombia, and his first show in the U.S. The guy is used to rocking crowds of thousands at a minimum, and to perform for maybe 200 or 300 people is definitely gonna be good for him to step into another scene and work himself back up.
How'd that come about?
I been putting a little bit of work in the Colombian hip-hop scene, starting with a collaboration with Crack Family, which is probably the biggest hip-hop group out there. I got some recognition for that and it's just been growing more and more. I'm sort of, like, integrated in the Colombian hip-hop music scene.
How's that compare to here?
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It's big the way they do it out there. I performed in front of close to 100,000 people in Bogota at the Hip Hop Al Parque festival. I opened for Dead Prez. It's the highlight of my career so far. I spit a verse with Cariñito for a song we did together. I'm going back in October and January. It's a blessing.
Fishoutawata Music Festival. With The Cornerstoners, Nag Champions, Skinny Hendrix, YDIZ, Urban Rebel, Nokturno & KR!ZM, LMS, Pages & The Outtahand Band, Miami Swamp, Cariñito, Ephniko and the Pachanga Son Squad, Dinosaurs N Disasters, Alpha Q, and others. Saturday, August 24. Tobacco Road, 626 S. Miami Ave., Miami. Doors open at 3 p.m. and the music starts at 7. Admission is free from 3 to 7 p.m., and $10 after. Call 305-374-1198 or visit tobacco-road.com.