Fans packed Brooklyn’s Barclay Center Tuesday night (Oct. 23) for the fourth annual Tidal X Brooklyn Benefit concert. Each year, the streaming platform tackles a cause to bring awareness to and to give back to, and this year’s issue was justice reform.
Connecting with non-profit organizations such as #Cut50, Equal Justice Initiative, Innocence Project and REFORM all the net proceeds from the event will go to these companies fighting injustices which disproportionately affect black and brown people. But this is Brooklyn, so even when we’re fighting for equality we do it in style.
Some of music’s biggest names lent their time, voice and talent to perform, so yeah, you can kind of say it was a party with a purpose. Lil Wayne, Lauryn Hill, Meek Mill and more moved the packed Barclays and while the good times rolled well into the wee hours, there were few moments that stood out.
VIBE editors Shenequa Golding and Desire Thompson were on hand to partake in the festivities and after soaking it all in, these were the eight stand out moments from the 2018 Tidal X Brooklyn Benefit concert. Did yours make the list? (If not, don’t come for us.)
1. Ava DuVernay Introducing Olympic Gold Medalist Tommie Smith
13th director Ava DuVernay introduced Olympic Gold Medalist Tommie Smith to a packed Barclay crowd for the 50th anniversary of his powerful yet silent gesture. When Smith was 24 years old, he mounted the podium in Mexico City after winning his medal in the 200-meter sprint finals. With his head bowed, Smith lifted his wrist in the black power salute. The moment seen by the world would become an iconic and loud testament within the struggle for equality. Smith galvanized the Barclay crowd insisting that we exercise our right to vote and never give up the fight.
2. Anderson. Paak Is Such A Joy And Also An Immense Talent
Hip-Hop, R&B and the culture are all about expression, and sometimes that expression is wrapped in an undeniable wardrobe of cool. West coast native Anderson. Paak encompasses all those things, but he’s also not afraid to have fun. The Malibu artist took to the stage earlier than expected and opened his set with “Bubblin,” the first single from his forthcoming LP Oxnard. After having fully warmed up the crowd, Cheeky Anderson then performed “Come Down.” But it was the childlike exhilaration Anderson experienced (and thus transferred to the audience) when he began playing the drums. Andy then closed out his show paying homage to his big homie Too $hort who, for the first time, performed his hit “Blow The Whistle” in Brooklyn. Twas a dope time indeed.
3. Pedro Hernandez, Raheem Howard, and Fatayi Jomoh All Were Acknowledged During The Concert
In between performances, activists acknowledged those who’ve helped advance the cause for equality as well as those who’ve been affected by inequality, as is the case for 11-year-old Fatayi Jomoh who in August was handcuffed for dribbling a basketball. In Baton Rouge, Raheem Howard spent two months inside the Parish Prison after being accused of shooting an officer despite evidence not corroborating the officer’s recollection of events. And Bronx native Pedro Hernandez (pictured below) spent nearly a year on Rikers Island on a gun possession and assault charges after turning down a no-jail deal. Hernandez, Howard, and Fatayi were all in the audience and received a round of applause for their strength.
4. The “lesser known” acts were really f**king good.
Thirty artists all came together to spread awareness for justice reform, and that means Tidal had to give 30 musicians and their bands time to do perform, which is a lot, but a few of the “lesser known” artists with the little time they had were also really fu*king good.
If you were still waiting to get into the arena then you missed Cleveland native Cautious Clay’s smooth voice along with his flute and saxophone. Danielle Bradbery was the only artist on hand to represent for country music and after her two-song minimum, left many wanting more. Jacob Banks brought his voice made of vibranium and his band, affectionately referred to as the Mandem and performed tracks from his EP The Boy Who Cried Freedom, while Jon Batiste delivered his gorgeous rendition of Nat King Cole’s “What A Wonderful World.”
5. Cory Booker Motivates Brooklyn And Beyond To Fight The Criminal Justice System
With his nephews by his side, Senator Cory Booker called for reform against the mentally ill and the poor who are often put behind bars. Comparing the broken system to cancer, Booker urged concertgoers to join the mission to dismantle the system.
“We live in a country where the criminal justice system is a cancer on the soul of our country,” he said. “It blinds our values and ideals of having a restorative criminal justice system. Right now in America, we say we are a land of the free but right now but one out of every four people incarcerated people on the planet Earth is here in the United States. One out of every three incarcerated women on the planet Earth are here in the United States. We overwhelming incarcerate some of the most vulnerable Americans; the drug-addicted, the mentally ill, the poor. In fact, we have a system that Bryan Stevenson says that treats you better if you’re rich and guilty rather than poor and innocent.” Booker recently shared plans to break generational poverty and the racial gap, leaving many excited for the 2020 presidential race.
6. Tom Morello’s Message To Trump
The Prophets of Rage guitarist didn’t hold back his disgust for President Donald Trump during his set. A legend on the guitar and a proud activist, Morello performed “Rabbit’s Revenge,” the politically driven single under his solo moniker The Nightwatchman. With every chord, the names of people of color killed by the police flashed on the screen. For the closer, Morello flipped his guitar around for a personalized note to the Cheeto-in-Chief.
7. Normani Performs Unreleased, 6LACK Collaboration
Concertgoers were thoroughly entertained by the likes of Teyana Taylor, Danileigh, Queen Najia and Ms. Lauryn Hill, but Normani’s solo run had everyone’s eyes peeled to the stage. Dressed in all black (no omen), the “Love Lies” singer sashayed from one side of the platform to another, while performing her newly released singles “Checklist” and “Slow Down.” Once headlights realigned to match the sultry intensity of “Love Lies,” fans went nuts as the singer continued to bust out a few of her signature moves.
…including this one.
— Vibe Magazine (@VibeMagazine) October 24, 2018
She also shared a chill unreleased song with 6LACK bound to heal or break the hearts of many.
8. Meek Mill’s Milly Rock Interlude
Lil Wayne may have closed the show, but Meek Mill brought mega laughs in the form of Shiggy, Big Dilf, and Mayor. The social media funny men (with the help of blue-haired gal pal) brought their best milly rock to Meek’s set. Starting off with “Dreams and Nightmares” and then leaning to the nightcap singles “Whatever You Want” and “Dangerous,” Meek ventured off into the crowd to “find” the best folks to break down the milly rock. The viral stars quickly demanded the crowd–velvet durags and all–as they battled each other on the Tidal stage.