On the second day of the North Coast Music Festival in Chicago, Queensbridge emcee Nas graced the stage just prior to sundown. Backed by a DJ and a drummer a jovial Nas got down to business performing tracks from his 2012 album Life is Good.
Wearing all black from head to toe Nas rocked ‘The Don’, ‘Back When’, ‘Accident Murders’, and ‘Loco-Motive’ before taking heads back nineteen years to his debut album, Illmatic.
The DJ Premier produced ‘N.Y. State of Mind’ blared through the North Coast speakers as Nas proclaimed, “Straight out the jungles of rap music, this ain't f*ckin’ trap music.”
Performances of ‘It Ain't Hard To Tell’, ‘Represent’, ‘The World is Yours’, and ‘Life's a Bitch’ delighted fans who love Nas’ classic debut. Nas Esco then took fans on a trip to 1996 and his sophomore album, It Was Written. ‘The Message’, ‘Street Dreams’, and Nas’ biggest hit, ‘If I Ruled the World’ were next on deck.
After a freestlye of ‘Nasty’ over just the drummer’s beat Nas ripped through a barrage of songs released over his stellar career that displayed his versatility and story telling abilities. From touching songs like ‘Daughter’, to fiery songs like ‘Hate Me Now’, and the beautifully painted picture of ‘Get Down’, Nas made sure that fans remembered why he’s one of the greatest of all-time.
With time being of the essence the DJ played snippets of Nas selections such as ‘Phone Tap’, ‘Halftime’, and ‘Hip Hop is Dead’ which just seemed to bore the Chicago crowd. The audience was obviously young and more into dance music than Hip-Hop so some of the songs just went right over their heads.
Nas’ epic letter to his incarcerated friend, ‘One Love’ is a shining gem in Hip-Hop’s forty-year history but likely came off as wordy and subduing to fans loaded with intoxicants. It was when Nas transitioned into Bob Marley’s version of ‘One Love’ that the crowed awakened.
Nas closed his hour-long set with 2001’s ‘Got Ur Self A Gun’, rapping the second verse to Dr. Dre’s ‘Deep Cover’ beat, followed by the riot-starting ‘Made You Look’ from 2003’s God’s Son album. After vanishing briefly Nasir Jones returned for an encore and a performance of ‘One Mic’.
While there were some true Hip-Hop heads in attendance Nas was a bit of a fish out of water at the North Coast Festival. Nas made a miscue by asking the crowd to finish his rhymes one too many times when most of the audience wasn’t familiar with his music.
Despite that, Nas gave a very good performance, touching on most of his catalog only ignoring his Street’s Disciple and Untitled albums. Nas interacted with the audience and had a smile on his face the entire time. From a person who saw Nas perform early in his sojourn and wanted a refund, it’s refreshing to see him evolve into a good stage performer at this point of his career. I believe that Nas’ happy-go-lucky attitude while performing is directly correlated to his life off the stage. Yes indeed Nas, life is good.