In 1994 I was born. In 1994, a 17 year old Nasir Jones released his debut album, an absolute classic – Illmatic. In January this year, after 20 years and 10 albums, I witnessed the New York legend perform that debut album. NAS gave an absolute clinic to modern rappers on how to perform.
A 40 year old man now, obviously NAS wasn’t rocking the stage like a young man. Though his stage presence was unbelievable. There was no messing around, he opened with his seminal record NY State of Mind… It blew me away. When I heard “Straight out the fucking dungeons of rap”, and the crowd rapping along with him, it was one of the most surreal moments of my life.
Nas played the album through in its entirety, which was an amazing experience. There was hardly any lights, effects, or theatrical moments. It was Nas, the stage, the crowd, and the mic. After finishing the album he continued the fan service by diving into his deep catalogue and pulling out hits such as I Can, Street Dreams and Made You Look. While he did address the crowd – he did most of his talking through the music. The concert lasted about an hour and a half, and he came out for the obligatory encore.
It was a great concert, and is a testament to the skills and talents of Nas to be not only relevant 20 years on, but not just be like one of those old, washed up artists who does one last tour to get a big paycheque before they retire. No, this was a veteran showing the new kids on the block how to do it. Oh, and I fist bumped Nas. And threw my hat at him, and missed. I really liked that hat too.