New York City is one rough place. There’s no sugar coating it. We talk fast, we walk faster, and if you can make it here, you truly can make it anywhere. But one thing stands true since the start of this gritty city’s existence: If you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us.
While the federal level of support for Hurricane victims in Puerto Rico has been appalling, TIDAL and a host of artists have come together to help in a massive way. The streaming company has sent more than a million pounds of goods to the affected areas by way of five planes. And Puerto Ricans Fat Joe, Jennifer Lopez, and Angie Martinez have hand delivered aid to the people of the island. For them, it’s beyond personal.
Last night at #TIDALXBrooklyn, New Yorkers—both native and just here for a season—got to witness what happens when our fellow New Yorkers are in need. The island itself is home to millions of Puerto Ricans, West Indians, and natives of the Caribbean. Brooklyn has forever been an accepting borough where the Caribbean tradition of “waving flag” still thrives with second- and third-generation Caribbean descendants. DJ Khaled, a lover of all things Caribbean, brought out Trinidadian soca king Machel Montano, and the two proceeded to lead the crowd in a rhythmic wave. Puerto Rican and Mexican flags were whipped and spun throughout Barclays Center, while those without flags whipped their glow sticks in solidarity with the hurting countries and perhaps for their own islands.
When one New Yorker hurts, we all hurt. When one New Yorker needs help, we all help.
The star-studded lineup had Brooklyn rocking until the early hours of Wednesday morning. Latinx hitmakers Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, Fat Joe, David Bisbal, Jessie Reyez, Princess Nokia, and the Bronx pop icon Jennifer Lopez sent love to their homelands. And like many of us Latinx second-born kids—including this kid from Queens who grew up with Trini, Haitian, and Guyanese flags emblazoned on the hood of cars and used to record Fabolous instrumentals as her voicemail intro—the streets of New York City are home. We are forever influenced by New York City’s most delightful native son: hip-hop.
J. Lo stormed the stage with a remix of the ’80s Strafe b-boy hit “Set It Off,” with a model of the 6 train in the background. Charly Black’s performance was met with screams of “Ayyyyeeee” and whines busted from every section. And when New York sons like Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, Jadakiss, A$AP Ferg, and Fab himself took the stage, they were greeted with lyrics shouted back at them in unison.
It was difficult for us all to see our current president heave paper towels at people who are dying, but it is unbearable when the people who are dying have the same blood that runs in your veins. When their faces look like yours. When you’re reminded by the administration that they simply just don’t matter. I have wrestled with the idea of missing my late abuela, with wanting to work with her beloved church to figure out how we can send aid directly to those suffering, and then been relieved that she doesn’t have to watch her hometown of Caguas being ravaged.
But in New York there is acknowledgement of this pain, the understanding that we are losing not only American citizens, but human beings, every minute. Video of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo displayed on the jumbotrons, and the audience got to see the work he’s doing with officials in Puerto Rico. “The job is not done. We’ll leave when the job is done,” he proclaimed. And the audience screamed just as loudly for his declaration as they did for Bronx girl-gone-superstar Cardi.
When one New Yorker hurts, we all hurt. When one New Yorker needs help, we all help. As Jay-Z and Beyonce become global humanitarians, TIDAL is helping them do the work, elevating the needs of the island my family is proud to call home.