Editor’s note: This excellent counterpoint submitted from FRANK D. is in response to Friday’s drop titled ‘Jay-Z Won…’
I have been reading your blog for a while now.
I like it a lot.
Sometimes when I am walking on the street, I see a big black dude, and I say “That’s Dallas!”
But it hasn’t been yet. Someday, I guess.
Anyway, I am finally writing because of this: I saw Nasir in concert for the first time last night.
At Hunter college. In what was basically a high school auditorium.
It was, quite simply, like church.
You see, I am a 31 year old dude. I grew up in Queens. In Douglaston. I have been listening to Illmatic for 15 years now… 15 years!?!
I never wanted to see the dude perform, because I thought he could never live up to what i had built up in my mind. That album is really one of the most important pieces of art that I have ever come across. So when I finally went to see him last night, I was almost nervous that my impression would be ruined. I have read tons of stuff saying that he was lazy in concert, et cetera.
It was amazing. Maybe 1500 or 2000 people rapping along, verbatim, to New York State of Mind. I just stood there and watched. There were some goosebump moments, but mostly I just thought about how important this album was. It is really on the level of some Picasso or Shakespeare stuff. I mean, if the true measure of ART is how it affects people, emotionally, then Illmatic is art of the highest caliber. The people in this crowd were moved. There were moments where he just stood there and listened to the crowd as they rapped to him.
I couldn’t help but to think about gospel music and preachers…
Then I started to think about the man himself. He has really aligned himself with the underdog, and this is important. Isn’t this what hip hop is about? Likkle ghetto youf? He went through the whole catalog, and it was hit after hit, and the hits were mostly 1) sort of smart and, 2) sort of important. I have seen what you wrote about ‘I Can‘ and I agree… This is what rap music was supposed to be.
I think it is important for us to remember that this is what the music is about; that someone like Nas is really what an MC is supposed to be.
And the other thing that really came home to me last night that is that comparing him to Shawn Carter isn’t really of any use. Nas is of the people for the people (as much as a “rapper” can be), and Shawn is a product, no?
I don’t know, I wanted to talk to you about this, because I thought you would get it.
Hope this message finds you well. Please write some more stories about you are your boys when you were young and stealing cars, those posts are really beautiful.
All the best.