REVIEW: NAS (@Nas) LIVE AT O2 ACADEMY LEEDS (@O2AcademyLeeds)

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Nas, 02 Leeds Academy 06 July 2017

The King of Queens was back in the UK on tour, I headed up to Leeds to check out his show at the 02 Academy. Whil­st wait­ing in queue there was ample oppor­tun­ity to talk to oth­er Nas fans, it was nice to see people had trav­elled from all over the UK — Liv­er­pool, Hud­der­sfield, Manchester, Birm­ing­ham and Lon­don to name a few, many of whom had come by them­selves. All dif­fer­ent races and ages, our love for hip hop had bought us togeth­er and it was a beau­ti­ful thing. I’m always amazed to meet fans who are under the age of 20 years old, I’ve been for­tu­nate enough to have grow up listen­ing to Nas and it’s nice to hear the new gen­er­a­tion of listen­ers can also con­nect as deeply to his music as I do, it just shows how time­less his tracks really are. It makes me happy know­ing young­er listen­er s are research­ing and not miss­ing out on the clas­sics. We engaged in con­ver­sa­tion about his dis­co­graphy and the cur­rent state of hip hop, the hours passed very quickly as we dis­cussed our dif­fer­ent inter­pret­a­tions of his rhymes. We all agreed on eagerly wait­ing his new album and wondered if would per­form any new tracks tonight. Neth­er­the­less, I knew those who were going to see Nas per­form live for the first time were in for a treat!

Daniel Hills was the warm up DJ, and he was incred­ible scratch­ing up tracks from the early 90’s, a lot of Lauryn Hill, Wu tang, Snoop and Dr Dre inter­twined with cur­rent tracks from J Cole and Kendrick Lamar with a touch of UK Kano and Klash­nekoff, this reflec­ted the music­al demo­graphy of the crowd per­fectly. Then it was time for Nas to grace the stage, DJ Green Lan­tern stepped up to the decks and Nas came straight out to, ‘Get Down’ the crowd went wild. Nas needs no hype­man, he is always able to hold it down on his own, but a nice touch was Mar­gis Miles on live drums but also melodic vocals, it was the per­fect accom­pani­ment. Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics merged into ‘Street Dreams’ which was Nas’ take on it. It flowed per­fectly.

I’ve been to sev­er­al Nas shows but for me this one was spe­cial, Nas was feel­ing the energy of the crowd and really enjoy­ing him­self, smil­ing and dan­cing around the stage. He poin­ted at me and said he liked my shirt as I was rock­ing my ‘Nas – Ill­mat­ic’ sweat­shirt, he’s always very enga­ging with his audi­ence. Through­out the years Nas has always remained humble, you could tell he was happy to be there and appre­ci­ated his jour­ney, and as fans we appre­ci­ated that. As per usu­al his per­form­ance was filled with pos­it­ive affirm­a­tions, he told us, ‘no mat­ter what, Life is good’. At one point he even poin­ted at me when he said, ‘we need to start a revolu­tion’ I smiled, those are my sen­ti­ments exactly, did he read my mind!

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As per usu­al Nas gave sev­er­al trib­utes to artists whom have passed away, he has always been true to his music­al and per­son­al influ­ences and gives respect where respect is due. These included, Michael Jack­son, Amy Wine­house and Bob Mar­ley. Fol­low­ing the recent death of Prodigy from Mobb Deep it was only nat­ur­al for Nas to give trib­ute to his fel­low fallen sol­dier from Queens, it was an emo­tion­al exper­i­ence. Nas per­formed ‘Shook ones’ with images of Prodigy on the big screen behind him. The crowd were quick to recite the verses along­side and Nas let it ride out, he kept stat­ing, ‘Prodigy’s incred­ible’ the respect and deep love for P was appar­ent in his voice, it was a heart­felt moment.

The lights dimmed and Nas took a seat in the spot­light on the stage, we knew what was com­ing next, ‘One Mic’ always an emo­tion­al exper­i­ence, Nas nev­er gives a mono­ton­ic per­form­ance as the tem­po of the track speeds up with police sirens, he also gets up and puts more energy into it. The crowd hypes up!

Nas’ dis­co­graphy is so var­ied, he per­forms, ‘The Don’ ask­ing us to jump up and down with him, we com­ply. My favor­ite part of the show was his per­form­ance of his verse from, ‘Affirm­at­ive Action’ I had nev­er heard this live before, he took me right back to the days of The Firm. This was for all his old­skool fans. With live drums when the beat dropped it gave me straight chills.

We knew the end of the show was near once, he slowed things down with ‘Stay’. Not a track I would instantly go to listen to, but as he was per­form­ing it live, I was there in the moment with him to actu­ally listen to how reflect­ive it actu­ally is, ‘some seek fame cos they need val­id­a­tion, some say hatred is con­fused admir­a­tion’, isn’t that the truth. He even poin­ted to my friend to fin­ish off the second verse for him! Then he thanked us and left the stage, we wish he could have stayed. I left feel­ing hyped but also inspired.

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Faizah Cyanide

Faizah Cyanide

Faizah works in clin­ic­al research by pro­fes­sion and has been an avid Hip Hop lov­er since the early 90’s, hav­ing cre­ated her own Hip Hop event, ‘Break­in’ Bound­ar­ies’ in the early 2000’s which was pre­dom­in­antly based around the con­cept of bboy battles, she has worked with sev­er­al inter­na­tion­al events pro­moters and dan­cers to inspire oth­ers through this art­form.

About Faizah Cyanide

Faizah Cyanide
Faizah works in clinical research by profession and has been an avid Hip Hop lover since the early 90's, having created her own Hip Hop event, 'Breakin' Boundaries' in the early 2000's which was predominantly based around the concept of bboy battles, she has worked with several international events promoters and dancers to inspire others through this artform.