Absolutely jammed packed. Fans of Nas are used to seeing him in major arenas or amphitheaters, but last night (July 17) in his hometown of New York City, the legendary MC gave his fans a special intimate performance of his classics as well as his much heralded ditties from his new LP Life Is Good.
With just a couple hundred people in attendance, the doors were shut down at Tammany Hall because of capacity (of course VIPs like Busta Rhymes were able to get in later with no problem) and less than a hour later, Nas was rocking. Special guests such as longtime collaborator AZ and Swizz Beatz would join him later in the night.
With DJ Green Lantern backing him up on the turntables, Nas—who had earlier in the night performed in front of raucous crowd at Rucker Park in Manhattan—came down to lower Manhattan for one of his most exciting and honest shows of the past 10 years.
“We been celebrating all year and last year,” Nas said on the mic. “‘Life Is Good’—That’s been my daily mantra. That’s just how I feel.”
“The Don,” then “Live at the BBQ” set off the night and were followed by “Ain’t Hard to Tell.”
A jubilant Nas began singing Michael Jackson’s lyrics during the break in the chorus on the latter. “Why, why, tell em that it’s human nature,” he sang.
From there, Esco dove into more Illmatic material with “The World Is Yours.”
“I’m happy to wake up this morning…that’s why life is good,” Nas said. “It ain’t about no money. We’ve made it through a storm.”
“I wanna do something with my homeboy AZ,” Nas said to the shocked crowd who responded with cheers.
“I love you like cooked food,” AZ told his brother from The Firm.
From there, it was a mini set by the “Flyest Gangsters” as they went into timeless records “Life’s a Bitch,” “Phone Tape,” “Affirmative Action,” and the rarely if ever performed by the two, “Mo Money, Mo Murder.”
“We went from ‘Life’s a Bitch’ to ‘Life Is Good,’” Nas said when the Visualizer left the stage.
He then began “Daughters” and reached back even farther to “Nas Is Like.”
“Hold up Green Lantern,” God’s Son alerted his DJ. “I’m here to do my new shit. In the state of hip-hop today. It’s important we stay true to who we are. It’s important we stay 10 toes to the ground. We don’t imitate pop, pop imitates us!”
Taking it back to his current masterpiece, the words from “A Queens Story” began to spill out of his mouth with precision.
“Rest in peace to Black Just/Riding through Jamaica Queens in his black truck/Timbs was 40-below, waves to the side of his dome/Definition of a good nigga, yo,” Nas spit.
“This shit is back!” Nas would add talking about authentic hip-hop music. “This a celebration, life is good. It’s okay to say this shit is back!”
Swizz Beatz would later come on the stage to perform “Summer on Smash” ”This mans album took hip-hop to the next level,” Swizz said after the song’s performance.
“Me and this man can do a whole album in one night,” Nas said about Swizzy.
“Your energy is crazy,” he told the super producer.
Nas kept it at Life Is Good with the most personal track from the album “Bye Baby.”
“This is my first time performing this shit and I don’t know it,” he confessed to the crowd. “I’m scared to listen to it half of the time cause it fucks with me. But let’s do it!”
“Bye baby, I guess you knew why I walked away,” he began to flawlessly rhyme. “When we walked to the altar that was an awesome day/Did counseling, couldn’t force me to stay/Something happens when you say, ‘I do,’ we go astray.”
“Give me the keys back baby,” Nas began actually singing as the song closed, channeling Guy’s Aaron Hall who’s voice is sampled on the “Bye Baby” track. “Can we make love just one more time????”
Nas isn’t done dominating shows in NYC just yet. He has at least one more surprise performances this week in the Big Apple. Life is Good.—Shaheem Reid