As fans from all over the UK patiently wait for Nas to grace the stage at the sold out 02 Academy in Bristol, a somewhat intimate venue of less than 2000 capacity, there is debate on what his opening track will be, then we witness balls of flame on the visuals as DJ Green Lantern drops, ‘Hate me Now’ painting a clear message Nas 20 years deep into his rap career does not let the haters fade him and is coming out as strong as ever! Rocking a glistening ‘Hand of Fatima’ diamond necklace, historically symbolizing protection from the evil eye we are reminded Nas is a superstitious man but let’s nothing stop him.
Exemplifying the length of his career performing classic track from his debut album ‘Illmatic’ that never get old, giving props to the pioneers before him, saying they then had to buy HIS tape when his album dropped in 1994! Reminding us of the days of cassette tapes, and asked who had them I can say I proudly raised my hand as Nas pointed out someone in the crowd who was clearly too young to have had one! It was another reminder of the longevity of Nas’ career in the rap game. When that beat dropped we knew it was ‘Nasty Nas in your area about to cause mass hysteria’ as he performed ‘Halftime’ from his classic debute album, ‘Illmatic’.
As we heard the intro to ‘Human Nature’ by Michael Jackson, visuals of his face as a young MJ appeared on the screen, Nas reminded us he was a fan of the Jackson Five and then dropped ‘It Aint Hard to Tell’. And of course Nas paid his respects to his good friend Amy Winehouse whilst performing, ‘Cherry Wine’ stating that they shared the same birthday.
No hypeman required for this show, Nas was in perfect synch with DJ Green Lantern he knows exactly what to drop. We were blessed by a performance of, ‘One Love’, twice over, the second time over the instrumental, ‘Sky is the Limit’ by Biggie Smalls as he gave a shout out to the late Notorious B.I.G. This was respect, this was love. As always throughout his show Nas gives props to all those who came before him and never forgets his roots and where he came from – Queensbridge.
Mid way through the show Nas plugged ‘The Get Down’ which is currently on Netflix about hip hop which was born 1977 in the South Bronx, which he has produced. One of his ventures outside of the rap game.
Intro to Belly!!! Soul II soul which always gives me boosebumps, Nas shouting ‘this is when we were young’ which made me think of what I was doing when that movie was out! Closing his eyes as the intro to stay played, Nas got ready to give a more chilled out recitation of the track to match it’s feeling. Giving us a shaking hand to the line ‘still look 20’ lol
A classical interlude was played ‘Was Beethoven having a good day?!’ as he went into the piano loop for ‘I can’ to inspire us to work hard for where we want to be. Engergetic ‘Da Don’ getting the crowd to jump alongside him, the video playing in the background.
Nas cracks a smile as fans in the front row go crazy when we hear the hook for ‘I want to talk to you’ a snippet of Nas’ more political works, very strong in holding a message for change for the people. We were left wanting more has he only teased us with the hook, could this be a sign of things to come? What goes around comes around – reminding us of ‘poison’ in society.
Nas speaking on life was drowned out by the screams of his female fans which even he could not ignore as he wiped his sweat on to a towel and threw it into the crowd to send them in to even more of a fenzy.
For long time and new fans those seeing Nas live for the first time or many other times the performance was not a disappointment. Shouting out to all the true kings and Queens in the audience, the last track played was ‘album done’ with DJ Khaled, as Nas left the stage, leaving us in anticipation of the new album and things to come, we truly hope his last album on Def Jam is going to drop soon as will the Lost Tapes 2!!