NaS Won…

illmatic

Editor’s note: This excellent counterpoint submitted from FRANK D. is in response to Friday’s drop titled ‘Jay-Z Won…’

Yo Dallas,

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.

Anyway.

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.

Frank

  • Thir[13]teen

    I echo the same sentiments. Nas is who we look up to as true hip hop followers. No hate to Shaun Carter, he does his thing. Nas however envelopes a much larger movement. The movement of hope, change, innovation, the movement of HIP HOP!

  • http://www.datpiff.com/Dont_Panic_Entertainment_Max_Profit_The_Drugs_Ar.m44293.html Max Profit

    Nas is the last old school MC. After him
    Biggie and Puff changed the game forever.
    Jay-Z followed them – Jay-Z was very successfull – So everybody followed him.

    To me Nas & Jay-Z are kinda like the yin & yang of HipHop. They both need each other to stay relavant.

    • DevoG

      I agree with the ying and yang metaphore. One time in the comment section someone wrote that Nas “lost at life”. I always thought that was interesting point seeing how as I’m sure this person has never sat down with Nas over a spliff and swapped life stories.
      Nas has always struck me as someone who was happy with the money he was earning just being an emcee, and the accolades he got in the streets. Not everyone wants to be an exec, or pitchman. Fuck a grammy from the academy when everyone in the streets respects what you do to the point where they have your entire album memorized, and anoint you King.
      Jay, on the other hand, was the complete opposite in that he relished the limelight, the business opportunities, and took advantage of every opportunity presented him. He was able to get the money, the respect, and eventually the power to make his own decisions regarding his future.
      Two sides to the same coin, and you can’t be mad at either.
      Perfect example: There are professional athletes that love their sport, play to win with a passion, and will not be satisfied until they win a ring. On the other hand, you have dudes that love the game, are mad competitive, and wouldn’t mind winning a ring, but are more focused on taking care of their families, and retiring with their health intact. I think Nas is the latter.

    • MO

      NAS IS THE BEST RAPPER ALIVE AND HAS BEEN FOR AWHILE.

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  • JCITYHUSTLA617

    I DONT THINK NAS AND JAY NEED EACH OTHER 2 STAY RELEVANT WELL MAYBE IN 2001 THEY DID ESPECIALLY NAS BUT IMO NAS IS THE BEST RAPPER LIVING FROM THE 90′S ERA THAT STILL MAKES MUSIC TODAY……………I CAN REALLY APPRECIATE THAT HE MAKES THE KINDA HIPHOP HE WANTS OR FEELS IS IMPORTANT 2HIM AND NOT REALLY CARE IF HE GOES PLATINUM OR NOT CUZ AT THE END OF THE DAY NOBODIES CATALOGUE THATS OUT NOW IS FUCKIN WITH HIS

  • JCITYHUSTLA617

    OH YEA PLEASE POST THE STORIES BOUT HOW YOU AND YOUR BOYS WERE STEALING CARS WHEN YOU WAS YOUNG THAT SOUNDS MORE INTERESTING THAN SOME RANDOM PERSONS STANNERY LOL

  • http://www.billykincaid.com Billy Kincaid

    I take it you’ve never been to a Jay-Z concert. You seen 2000 people recite Illmatic and you were impressed. Wow.

    • JCITYHUSTLA617

      ITS PROBRABLY THE INTAMACY OF THE SMALL SETTING THAT MADE THE EVENT SPECIAL ESPECIALLY FOR A TRUE FAN

      • Hate Hate and more Hate

        lol @ Nas on the chitlin circuit tour.

        Next week Nas is going to be opening up for the Fu-shnikins

  • Pierzy

    Preach! I’ve seen both NaS & Jay live and they’re completely different shows. Jay performs in arenas with other artists with pyrotechnics and giant video screens. NaS shows are in small rooms where everyone is packed together and the energy just feeds people. Seeing NaS perform made me like and respect him even more but there is something to be said for when Jay-Z performs “Can I Live” in concert…

  • Thomas

    I’m glad Frank enjoyed his Nas concert. I seen him in 2001 (I think) at the 9:30 club in D.C. and he did a medley of songs and bounced in 35 mins. Tickets were $40. Mad as shit. Haven’t been back since.

    Jay and Nas will always be linked. Jay’s catalog is probably the only that can stand up to Nas’s….well I would put Ghost, KRS, Scarface in that discussion as well.

  • crooks

    2000 people rhyming with nas verbatim sounds impressive but 50000 people rhyming verbatim to “u dont know” throwing the roc up..now that was insane

  • geico lizard

    Dallas Penn your fans can get very deep, no fishsticks just in case.

  • P-Matik

    “JCITYHUSTLA617 says:

    ITS PROBRABLY THE INTAMACY OF THE SMALL SETTING THAT MADE THE EVENT SPECIAL ESPECIALLY FOR A TRUE FAN”

    That’s why I always preferred to go see artists perform before they get large and the show costs $10. I saw Foreign Exchange a couple of months ago got a lot for my money.

    Yeah Dallas, more Decep posts. There’s more value in that shit for younger heads than anything.

  • Worley

    I have only seen NaS perform once. It was back in ’92 when he was still Nasty Nas. It was in NYC at a club called Home Bass. I snuck out the crib to go to the show and the whole sh*t. There were only about 200 people there but we were all there off the strength of the “Halftime” video. We all knew dude was going to be something special. He did about 6 tracks off Illmatic. If the energy wasn’t there at the beginning it damn sure was there at the end. Everybody was stunned. Nobody knew what to make of what we just witnessed. We knew hip-hop wasn’t going to be the same after dude hit. And Illmatic did not disappoint.

    I wouldn’t trade that experience to see anybody, including Nas, in a stadium or anywhere else. NOTHING will beat that.

  • Dallas Penn

    I’ve seen NaS and Jay-Z perform countless times and I have never been disappointed, but for a moment that transcends Hip-Hop I think about being at any Wu-Tang show when they go thru their ODB medley.

    As soon as you hear those pianos from Shimmy start up it is my license to get ill. ODB was definitely that dude “of the people, for the people”. No matter how many people are with me when that song starts up I just look up to the heavens and I give praise.

  • Detroit Draper

    I think Dallas put it the best possible way…Nas is a artist Jay’s a product. So for anyone to compare the performances or catalogue and believe Jay’s is greater u just dont understand and never will so why try?… Not a stan or anything like that but Nas’s music speaks from the soul Jay would be a lil more into attracting a large 50000 plus crowd.

    • white boy

      What do you mean by saying that Jay is a product? Like someone created him and is selling him like some PIMP selling his bitches? I completely disagree… Jay like Nas has been struggling a lot to reach a point where he is now, but he delivers his shit a bit different than Nas, and that’s it…

  • CrabMeatS

    It’s 2009. Nas is great and illmatic changed my life, but that was 1993 ! 8 years later you still compare Nas and Jay. Nas won the battle but jay Z won the war.

  • tony

    Nas the truth. I wish Nas would make good music again. One of the best Lyrics in the game. He need better Producer to do his music. The N Album was the worst Album he made. I only like 5 songs on it. Hip Hop is dead that was the Shit. I need your next CD to be the best.

  • tree

    fuck jayz

  • http://myspace.com/ncprecise ncprecise

    jay concert > nas concert

    • El Tico Loco

      Take away jay z’s pyrotechnics and jumbotrons Jay concert = Nas concert

  • http://www.incilin.blogspot.com Incilin

    Footage, photos, and a brief writeup of Nas playing at Hunter (including NY State of Mind, The World Is Yours, & One Love) are over at A Shot of Incilin. Just click the name.

    I love Nas, but dude is a crappy live performer. He can’t remember his lyrics for shit, even tho his catalog is insane.

  • prophecy_projectz

    Nas’ concert perfromances have improved over time.

  • http://www.myspace.com/crockerishiphop Crocker

    Where in the blue hell is Sunday? Heartfelt write-ups of Nasir’s concert? Gag me. Seriously. Gag me with a maggot.

    • http://www.twitter.com/lowendofdachi GorillaJoe

      Thats what happens when you ignore the stuff in Italics.

  • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grand$

    NaS is easily one of the few rappers who will always be around.

    Cats toss the word ‘relevant’ back & forth, & to each his own, but dude is an artist, in the true sense of the term. True art has no timeline.

    @JCITYHUSTLER617
    I saw you on that “50 cleared” thread. Good look.

    • macdatruest

      I stepped away for a day and I them clowns tried to double team me, check how I mopped them niggas up like MacDonald’s lobby back on the 50 Cleared Thread!! lol

      • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grand$

        Lol @ mac.

        Some clowns, man. I shouted you out in my nail for their coffin, but it wouldn’t let me post anymore. I tried like 8 times; nothing.

      • $ykotic

        Ya’ll had me dying e-battling!

        • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grand$

          Yeah $yk, normally I would have done something better with my time like clip my toenails or watch paint dry, but they tried to double team mac. More than enough excuse. Then the fucking site wouldn’t let me post anymore.

        • $ykotic

          LOL!

          I was like “Grand$ spitting!” They didn’t know your wordplay is arsenic.

          mac was getting under their skin!

          Oh yeah the post.

          Simple: NaS is an artist, Jay is NOW a brand.

  • Ju-100

    to see nax in concert is like seeing a prophet on stage. It’s amazing and everybody feels his passion and energy! Power of the word

  • Silly Willy

    There is no use comparing Nasir to Shawn.

    Nas is the last of the pioneers, there is hip hop before Nas, and hip hop after Nas.

    Jay is the best student that hip hop has ever brought up. In one album, he was able to cristallize what made every rapper before him great, and he showed the whole world outside hip hop what it’s about.

    Nas is a novel/Jay is a movie

    And they are the best of their crafts

  • Silly Willy

    And hip hop need to stop sleepin on Common. How many rappers do you know dropped 8 albums, 2 of which was meh, 1 was aight, and 5 straight up classic material (Resurrection, Like Water For Chocolate, One Day It’ll All Make Sense, Finding Forever and Be)?

  • Hungkey

    Nas is my favorite rapper alive, but he CANNOT perform.

  • Ayre

    I’ve never seen Nas perform but I did see Jay perform before he was Jigga down here in D.C. B.I.G. was still living and it was in a small venue. He wasn’t gettin no love from the crowd so he stopped whatever song he was doing an broke into a freestyle where it was just a bunch of metaphors-killed the crowd. Then he broke out “Can’t knock the hustle” won the crowd over. I’ll never forget it.

  • dark vanilla

    I’m glad grand$ and mac got under their skin. They were so horrible, it was just embarassing. Anyways I wish I coulda gone to the Nas concert when he was up here in Portland, but I chose to spend $150 more to take my girl to the Kanye West concert. At least Lupe and N.E.R.D. were good, but I woulda rather seen a legend.

  • NICE

    JAY-Z MAKES BETTER MONEY BUT NAS MAKES BETTER MUSIC