Immortal Technique (AKA Felipe Andres Coronel), the politically outspoken Peruvian-American hip-hop artist, gave Occupy Miami a shout out at his Grand Central show on Tuesday night. He announced that he'd be making an afternoon visit the next day to the campsite where protesters have been living outside Stephen P. Clark Government Center for weeks, eating donated meals and showering in a tent.
An Occupy Miami tweet indicated the rapper would show up at 2 p.m. But just as he was scheduled to join the protest, the rapper tweeted that he'd be there after lunch. Three hours passed. And finally, Immortal Technique arrived at 5.
He's forgiven. A man's gotta eat, even a man with cause.
Leading up that, there were a few other performances enjoyed by a mid-sized crowd of dedicated Occupiers. These are people who, after weeks of urban camping, have mellowed out a bit. They're desperately hungry for some fun. They're nice people, excited to munch on animal crackers. And they're very interested in the discovery that there are Cuban Muslim peace activists coming there to pray on Friday -- probably to the horror of their Cuban Catholic grandmothers.
The show started with a little iPod action: Rage Against the Machine, Bob Marley, Radiohead, Pink Floyd. Next, talented beatboxer Kamikaze made crazy sounds with his body while b-boys showed off their physical superiority. He even brought out some Egyptian Lover and Michael Jackson, using only his mouth.
Black Bobby was there too. It was his third or fourth visit to the camp. The D.C.-born, Miami-based rapper has his master's in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School. Fancy shit and appropriate for the occasion. He spoke for a minute about things he didn't learn in school, prosecuting Goldman Sacks, and letting Bush's tax cuts expire. He referred to "bad fiscal policy." What a nerd cutie. Black Bobby sang a few songs, including "Occupy Everything," which encouraged an enthusiastic sing-along.
After that, a series of freestylers took to the mic, and psychedelic electronic artist Dusthead made crazy vocal sounds while occupier Jorgen rode by on a skateboard holding an Occupy Miami sign, again and again.
Local poet and promoter Benjamin Shahoulian joked, "If someone calls himself Immortal, expect to be waiting a long time." And after three hours, many left, others looked tired. But a lot of these people actually live there at Government Center, so they were home. Pretty convenient.
Finally, Immortal Technique appeared with DJ GI Joe saying, "Mic check!" Fans and onlookers swarmed him. He spoke briefly about cleaning up corruption and redistribution of wealth. "I appreciate the hard work," he told the Occupiers and noted that there's a greater purpose to all of this. Someone said, "Show him to our home" twice.
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He didn't make it past the protesters' little Peace City Garden before being bombarded with excited chatters and press questions. He seemed comfortable with the attention. No one looked too disappointed that they had to wait an eternity or that he didn't perform.
"People of all different colors, races, walks of life, and the age range is really what I think frightens people that are in power," he said of the movement. "You have somebody as young as 14 or 15 out here, you have someone as old as 65 or 75."
The interactions between black and white, Catholic and Muslim, young and old is what impresses Immortal Technique most. "To see a Vietnam veteran who says, 'I really went through this type of shit way before, with my government lying to me,' talking to someone who's just fresh into their political development." That is entirely reflected here at Occupy Miami -- so many deeply different people, united, finding common ground, and fighting for a single cause.