Deep like The Shinin', sparkle like a diamond
Sneak a Uzi on the island in my army jacket linin
Hit the Earth like a comet, invasion
Nas is like the Afrocentric Asian, half-man, half-amazin
Cause in my physical, I can express through song
Delete stress like Motrin, then extend strong
I drank Moet with Medusa, give her shotguns in hell
Nas - It aint hard to tell.
Saturday night I went to the Nas concert at the Kool Haus. Been a while since I've actually been to a hip hop concert, actually been a while since I've been to a club downtown unless its been a calypso show.
Considered not going after all its been like maybe a good 5-6 years since my last Hip Hop concert (although my homie keep reminding me of some EPMD show we went to which I actually cant remember at all. Senility dun set in early!). I mean I actually remember when Nas busted out on Main Source's Live at the barbecue with "Street's disciple, my raps are trifle, I shoot slugs from my brain just like a rifle" and also later did that verse on Mc Serch's Back to the Grill again. I actually remember buying the Zebrahead soundtrack in 92 or 93 prior to the release of Illmatic to listen to "It aint Hard to Tell." Whoa!
Plus to be honest I've never been big on clubs and crowds. Cant handle the lineups, the dumb bouncers, the horrid djs and the crazy ish that occasionally happens. I mean don't get it twisted I aint scared but since I got married I think a bit more about getting into dumb ish in club situations especially since every man nowadays quick to pull out some weapon like its a video game. (Although come to think of it, since me wife trying to kill me maybe she would be happy if something happened there. Actually come to think of it she encouraged me to go to this concert. Wait a minute!)
Anyway back to the topic at hand. Nas, Kool Haus, Saturday night. I got tickets to the second show thus avoiding the earlier all-ages one and all the tennie boppers. Good looking out P! Much respect son!
Door's opened 9 o'clock. We reached at 9 and saw the longest line I've seen this side of Caribana at the doors. Did I mention it was freezing? Spent an hour in line and was just making progress when one of the son of a ... umm bouncers shut down the line we were in. Turned the line around and send it to the other door. Can you imagine that? The first were last and the last first. I was so not impressed especially since I was freezing. Nas had better be good if I catch pneumonia.
Still it gave me some time to try to wonder if the scruffy dude with the 40 oz acting drunk was actually drunk or was just an undercover cop. Still not sure but leaning towards the latter. Hey nothing is ever as it appears in my world of conspiracies and subterfuge. Just call me Agent Muldner. :-)
Anyway we finally made it in around 10:30. Outside was cold but inside was packed and heated like a sauna. DJ Baby Yu, on the 1s and 2s, was playing a nice back in the day set to hype up the crowd. Wu Tang, Gang Starr, BCC, Biggie, Luniz (5 on it) , Pete Rock Cl Smooth, Tribe, Channel Live, LOTUG, Black Sheep, Redman (is it me or has everyone forgotten AG and Showbiz). The crowd was thick and singing along to the hits of the 93-94 era. I got to say that one of the great things about going to a hip hop show is the warmup music played by the DJ. Any other time at the club you are going to get pure B.S mixed in but before a hip hop show they really bring back the nostalgia.
Around 11:30 after the crowd was sufficiently warmed up DJ L.E.S came out and started to check his equipment. Baby Yu dropping in BDP's "the bridge is over" which I was thinking while a classic was a very inappropriate song to be playing at a Nas show (seeing he's a Queensbridge native). This was the cue for L.E.S to stop the DJ get on the mic and get the crowd hyped for Nas. The lights dimmed and The Intro from Nas' latest joint Street Disciple came in. Nas could be heard rapping and when the lights came back he was stage front doing his thing.
I kind of like the fact that the stage was rather clear for a rap concert. No large crew and two dozen hype men/aspiring rappers. L.E.S played the dual role of hype man and DJ and it was just Nas and two big bodyguards on stage.
Nas started with "A message to the Feds" from his new album, went into Ether from the Stillmatic album and followed up with my favorite track from the new album called "These are our Heroes". Its basically a diss of sellouts mainly Kobe Bryant (Interesting aside I just realized that Nas actually did a song with Kobe when Kobe was trying to have a rap career some years back. Thankfully never saw the light of day). Nas then went into a wicked set from his first album Illmatic. One Love, Represent, Lifes a B..., Halftime, It aint Hard to Tell, he basically did the whole album, He then flipped into a few songs from It was Written; Street Dreams, The message and the hit If I ruled the World.
Let me pause here for some observations. First the energy from the crowd was pretty nice .....for a Toronto crowd lol. I've been in wilder crowds (a Common, Beatnuts concert back in the day at Opera House springs to mind) but seeing as I'm a hip hop elder now I appreciate that it wasn't as wild as it could be. Also one thing I really love about hip hop crowds at least in Toronto is that it shows off the full spectrum of the different races/cultures living here and they all know the songs and all groove along to the music... some more in tune than others but that's another story. For all the negatives about Hip Hop music what other events bring together young folk like this.
Third I know I've been off the club scene for a while but have girls shrunk since my last club visit? I swear not only were they shorter but they seemed to take up less space than usual. A one point 5 girls jammed into a space in front of me that should only hold 2 normal sized people. It was like being surrounded by hobbits.
Fourth, good gosh forgot about this reason for why I'm not big on clubs. Weed, the indo, the sticky ikky, chronic, pushung peng, the izm! It was crazy, I was smelling weed from the right of me, from the left of me, in front of me, damn! I'm sure by the time I left I was high on second hand smoke. Don't know if the Greg Goose was in effect but there was definitely a whole lot of hydro. (just borrowing from a Nas song for the non-hip hop fans)
Fifth, I love to watch some of my fellow concert goes. Especially the dudes who bring their girls and then spend the entire night trying to make sure no one pushes up on them. Its pretty funny when the entire crowd is wilding out and there is this one dude just standing their absolutely still holding his girl in front of him. What's with that?
Sixth back to Nas. Nas followed the usual rapper performance credo regarding garb. Come out in a jacket, peel it off halfway in his set to a t-shirt and then remove t-shirt later in the show. Its the "I'm working up a sweat because I'm really into my performance" routine that's supposed to pull in the crowd. I got no problems with it but hey Nas my bredren, yo guy, keep the t shirt on star. Truss me. Bredren ya gave me some serious motivation to hit the gym. Bredren, Kelis giving you too much milkshakes. Cut back. Men our age should look better than that guy. I'm not saying he was way out of shape but if you are going to take your shirt off in a spotlight situation with hundreds of people looking at you I think you got to come correct. Yo guy, you are officially my motivation I'm going on the holy quest to find the six-pack. No not the one in the fridge.
Anyway back to the concert. Nas followed the It was Written classics with some stuff from newer albums including "Got Yourself a Gun". I guess he was going from Nasty to Nas to Escobar to Nastradamus to God's Son and giving us the full spectrum of his hits. He has after all been in the game 12+ years now.
Ok the second hand smoke was kicking in so the exact order of what he played is escaping me lol. He did "Hate me now" and a verse from New York state of Mind (my favorite Nas track ever).
The crowd was feeling the music and Nas was feeling the crowd. He did his current hit Bridging the Gap minus his father Olu Dara and then flipped into a medley of his cameo verses from Hot Boyz (with Missy) Oochie Wally(Bravehearts), Verbal Intercourse (Raekwon) etc. Or was the Bridging the Gap after the medley who remembers.
He also did some of the tracks from his Lost Tapes album and he finally finished with Made You Look. Surprisingly he didn't perform his big hit from Last year I Can.
All in all though, excellent concert. Nas came saw and conquered (Veni Vidi Vici) the T-dot on his first show here.
Now why do I feel so hungry after the show. Oh right the flipping second hand weed smoke. ah man!