On his 13th studio album, 4:44, JAY-Z dropped the single “The Story of O.J.,” which provided the blueprint for reaching economic stability and supporting the hip-hop community. In the footnotes he elaborated on the lyrics, saying they were about the culture “having a plan, how we’re gonna push this forward.”
“We all make money, and then we all lose money… But how, when you have some type of success, to transform that into something bigger,” he added.
Last night’s (Oct. 17) annual Tidal Benefit Concert at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, was the “bigger” he was talking about.
Powered by Bacardi, hip-hop’s elite, including Jennifer Lopez, Chris Brown, Stevie Wonder and DJ Khaled, united in an effort to aid and invest in the communities of Houston, Florida, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico, all of which were recently hit by historically detrimental hurricanes.
In addition to shipping a record 500 pounds of supplies to PR prior to the show date, the proceeds of the ticket sales were donated to a selection of organizations that lead relief support for the victims.
The benefit concert was surely not the first or the only event held in support of hurricane relief, but as other parts of Hollywood have moved on to new topics and our country’s “leader” has shifted to his next trending topic, hip-hop is still showing up (even if it takes all night). On a Tuesday night, starting at 7 p.m. EST and ending a little past 2 a.m., rookies, vets and all those in between took the stage for no more than a five-part set.
Newcomers like Jessie Reyez and Princess Nokia represented for the Latinx community while leaving a lasting impression on the crowd. Cardi B kept it buck as expected, playing her record-breaking No. 1 smash “Bodak Yellow.”
Chris Brown reminded fans why he is still an R&B force to be reckoned with as he glided through a series of hits, matched with fluid dance moves. To keep up with Breezy’s high energy, DJ Khaled sent the crowd into a continuous roar of jubilation with special appearances from T.I., Swizz Beatz and Busta Rhymes.
J.Lo has sustained more than two decades in the industry but still maintains her humility, grace and stamina. She took fans back to her days on the block in the Bronx all the way to her days on the main stage. The show organizer himself, JAY-Z, dabbled in his past tracks from Magna Carta Holy Grail and Watch the Throne but left some time to school the crowd on the benefits of investment and more with his 4:44 playlist.
On “Family Feud,” another track off the Brooklynite’s album, he discusses the importance of both young and veteran artists putting their differences aside to invest in the culture and its people, many of which come from the same regions affected by the natural disasters and who are the “same hues” as the artists who rocked the stage.
And he’s right. Boricua, African-American, Afro-Latinx, West Indian. When black and brown artists and fans, specifically within the hip-hop family, come together, our communities win.