Jay Z’s music streaming service, Tidal, held their second annual benefit concert on Oct. 15 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. With headliners such as Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, and Alicia Keys, plenty of money was bound to be donated to the Robin Hood Foundation, which aims to combat poverty and enhance musical education.
For about five hours, subscribers and ticket buyers were witnesses to a dynamic benefit concert offering the perfect balance of musical artistry and social justice awareness. With performances from more than 20 artists, Tidal provided the best entertainers complimented by noteworthy up and coming artist such as Lil Yachty, Kevin Garret and Bebe Rexha.
Robin Thicke, recently teased as Robin “Thicker” due to his newly apparent weight gain, opened the show performing “Lost Without U,” giving a warm vibe to those entering the arena. His short set closed with a Nas collaboration, “Deep,” which spoke about police brutality. Thicke also encouraged viewers to register to vote and gave a not-so-subtle endorsement by clearly voicing his opinion on who shouldn’t be voted for.
Nicki Minaj’s set included a mix of old and new rap songs that were either freestyles, non-singles, or radio friendly songs. She opened with her iconic verse from “Monster,” where she declared herself as worthy to rap among the greats like Kanye and Jay Z at such an early point in her career. Her latest, “The Pinkprint Freestyle,” which was dropped after a long hiatus, made the cut as well as her verse from DJ Khaled’s single “Do You Mind.”
Nicki’s highly anticipated, eclectic set ended with “Champion,” which led to a rant about powerful women. She complimented Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton for being just as capable and established as their husbands. She further warned listeners to not be stuck with the wife of a misogynist man as a model of how to be a strong, independent woman. Another sly endorsement here?
On a brighter note, the beautiful, bare faced Alicia Keys performed the international favorite “Girl on Fire.” She moved the crowd with “Hallelujah” from her upcoming sixth studio album, Here, slated to release Nov. 4. Throughout her set, Keys proved that her custom of belting lyrics as she gracefully plays the piano will never get old.
Rapper and songstress Lauryn Hill brought the audience back to the 90s with everyone’s favorites including her classic hit “Ex Factor.” Still, she included a track on racial climate, “I Find It Hard to Say (Rebel),” claiming to have been written years ago but revamped it for modern day police brutality.
Unlike his decade old hits “Bring Em Out” and “U Don’t Know Me,” T.I. has grown into a musical activist as shown by his performance at the BET Awards of “Us or Else,” with the same feel as Lauryn Hill’s re-release. Although, Tip did perform his classic singles aforementioned at Tidal x 1015, he did not leave out of his benefit concert set “War Zone,” a song in protest of systematic racism in the U.S. Keeping along with the theme, Common rapped “Black America Again” a capella, which touched on the Black Lives Matter social movement.
And last but not least we have Queen B: Beyoncé. Viewers were graced by her presence twice in one night, after Robin Thicke and again at the close of the show. Her first performance consisted of a mini book case of back up dancers as Beyoncé slid, posed and hung however she pleased among them with an angelic voice as if she wasn’t in many odd positions. To everyone’s surprise, Yoncé’s extravagant braid rips her earring out of her ear but being the performer she is, the beautiful singing continued, proving she is undeniably Sasha Fierce.
Her second appearance wasn’t as “Beyoncé” as the first but it still slayed as she included her all-female band as she sang “All Night.” In the end, Beyoncé made sure to encourage audience members to vote. Although it may seem like we can’t make a difference, she said “doing nothing is not an option right now.”
Four hours of our Friday night were captured by musical performances along with worldly issues being confronted. How interesting has the music industry become, reverting back to lyrics with purposeful content and artist who are concerned with more than just their profit? I’m sure John Lennon, Joan Baez, Bob Marley and a host of others would be pleased with this change.