Many of us, myself included, had never been able to catch him live before so last night felt like it was a long time coming and the legend that is Nasty Nas most definitely lived up to every hope and expectation I ever had of watching him perform. “I don’t understand how I’m still here,” he kept saying, referring to his durability and success in the rap game – but if our response was anything to go by, he shouldn’t have left the venue wondering or with any doubt as to why because after that performance, we certainly didn’t.
The very well received DJ Green Lantern got things started and expertly warmed the crowd up by paying homage to a couple of Hip-Hop’s heavyweights. Thankfully no time was wasted as he was soon presenting to us another Great we all couldn’t wait to see.
Opening the show with the first track off his Life is Good album, Nas turned us right up the very moment he appeared and stepped across the stage (video below):
He followed No Introduction with a new favourite, The Don, before hitting us up with a super heavy combo of Illmatic classics including NY State of Mind, It Ain’t Hard to Tell, Represent and The World is Yours (video below):
And as well as giving us the best of his old and new material, Nas took the time out in between songs to speak with the crowd. It is often these moments that take a live show to the next level and instead of asking us over and over how we were doing or rambling on like many other rappers tend to about how London feels like their home town (I’ve never been to Toronto but I highly doubt it Drizzy), he shared with us his reflective side. By doing so he gave us a few precious flashes, glimpses and a small amount of insight into the workings of not only his latest studio release but the man behind the mic as well.
One such moment came after he performed one of his more tender tracks, Daughters and it was when this tune ended that he mentioned his recent realisation of what was important in life, turning away for a second, seemingly to compose himself, having “a father moment” as he called it. He went on and asserted more than once that the music industry has its “dark side” but how he wouldn’t go into detail as to what he and his “crazy sister”, the late Amy Winehouse; who he clearly has mad love and respect for, would say about it. On a lighter note though, as the Guy sample played out after the end of his Bye Baby performance, Mr Jones divulged to us, with a massive grin on his face, how he recently sent a cheeky text to his famous ex-wife asking (as Aaron Hall in the original song sings): “Could we make love just one more time?”
There came a point toward the end of the show when the crowd started to stir and demanded to hear Ether. I genuinely thought I was the only one who wanted to hear it after all these years (and now that the beef is no more) but it turned out that we all wanted to catch Nas spit that venom. He was diplomatic in his response to the chanting and gave us a coy laugh before deflecting and whipping us all into a frenzy with the familiar opening of Got Yourself A.. It was that record, as well as Locomotive, Made You Look, Patience and One Mic that really got us hyped (video below) – never mind that the words escaped him a few times, all that, that did was give the hardcore fans up by the front the opportunity to showcase their dedication by hollering the lyrics his way – and that was nice to witness too.
Whether he was spitting a verse or raising a laugh with his contemplative chat, there was no doubt that Nas had us all listening, nodding (or continually shouting out as was the case with the guy stood next to me) with intent and in agreement to whatever he was saying. There was a definite sense among the crowd, not that a true fan would ever question it, that his lyrics do indeed come from a very real and true place and it was an absolute pleasure to have been able to not only hear but feel it too. Confirming his sincerity was the fact that he chose to perform at such an intimate venue. Under the Bridge provided the perfect space for The Don to reconnect with his fan-base and take us back in a way to the real Hip-Hop. I will always maintain that the smaller the gig the bigger the vibes and last night was certainly no exception. If you have been lucky enough to secure a ticket to see him tonight or tomorrow you are in for a real treat. Don’t expect to want to listen to any other artist for the rest of the week either.