Concert Reviews

A Renaissance Evening Featuring Nas, The Reminders & Justin Bua

I witnessed hip hop greatness last night. The Shredded Beats event was originally planned to bring Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) to Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom, but with a last minute cancellation, none other than the Don was immediately set to replace him. Both making and representing history as this hip hop legend was gracing the stage but also performing in an intimate venue, which is unheard of for Nas these days.

The entire evening celebrated the arts with the incredible Justin Bua live painting based on inspiration from the many stellar acts of the evening. Besides Nas, The Reminders gave an outstanding performance. For those who aren't familiar with this rapping married couple, they spread love, family, and friendship through their hip hop music. Aja Black raps and sings while her husband Big Samir spits in both English and French incorporating his Belgium roots. Aja had an unbelievable stage presence and performed hype dance moves while never missing a beat in her flow. Big Samir, slightly in the background, supported his wife every step of the way. Their music was positive and authentic and they were the perfect openers for the man who is the true essence of hip hop.

Nas took the stage just before 1am and I teared up immediately. Standing five feet away from me, rapping the very lines that made me first fall in love with hip hop, I could barely keep my composure. He started off with the many classic songs from his debut Illmatic. Beginning first with "N.Y. State of Mind" then into "Represent Represent," "Life's A Bitch" and my personal favorite "The World is Yours." Standing at forty years old, the fact that his records that he made at sixteen are still relevant only solidifies that he is the greatest there is. Nas spit knowledge between each track, explaining his gratitude for still being able to to perform and make quality music. Nas came up when the game was untouchable, but because of death, lack of inspiration or simply falling off, he is one of the only emcees still standing, still untouchable.

His set, filled with classics from every album he ever put out, showcased his true versatility as a lyricist and arguably raps greatest poet. The crowd was inspired and passionate about hip hop, holding up books of rhymes, old Nas cassette tapes and of course belting out every word to every song. The concert was surreal and even though this was my fourth time seeing Nasty Nas live, being so close, feeling his every word was an experience that can't be matched.

There are some artists you can see over and over again and experience something new every time. Their music is timeless. Nas holds that crown, back then and still today.


The Smoker's Club Tour 2013: Joey Bada$$, Pro Era, Ab-Soul, The Underachievers & more

I'm sure Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom is still picking up roaches from last night's events. Coloradans take pride in their weed and when the major smokers of the hip hop industry came to town, pot heads united, bringing their lungs and ears for the 2013 lineup of Smoker's Club Tour. I attended the tour back in 2010 and at first I was slightly disappointed that there weren't more major artists on the roster, but the acts were stellar and it was truly a night to remember.

I walked in as Chevy Woods was finishing his set and the crowd was loving his Taylor Gang hits. However, the unsung heroes of the evening were The Underachievers. Performing material from Indigoism as well as their newest mixtape Lords of Flatbush, they possessed such a genuine stage presence and really appealed to the audience by taking song requests and performing what they wanted to hear. Issa Gold was so authentic with his interactions with the crowd and introductions to their songs that it felt like we were all homies in on a listening session. Both rappers were super personable and their performance was one of the highlights of the evening.

Surprisingly, headliner Ab-Soul came out next instead of closing the show. Soulo's performance was simple and effective, a true artist and free of all the gimmicks, he gave an incredible set showcasing his superior lyrical ability and just dope music. His aura and energy was raw and evoked brilliance. I've loved both Longterm Mentality and Control System and he performed tracks from both projects. Closing his set with "Illuminate" featuring his Black Hippy label mate Kendrick Lamar, the long haired, sun glass wearing emcee was outstanding.

Pro Era's Kwon ran onstage and got the crowd hype for the hip hop collective's leading emcee, Joey Bada$$. Still incredibly young and raw and in prep for his studio album debut, Joey was enlightening. The energy he drew from the crowd was unmatched that evening. Kirk Knight, CJ Fly, A La $ole, Dessy Hinds and a few other members joined Joey and even performed some of their new material from upcoming solo projects. Seeing the greatness of Joey live and his ability to command an audience that large was remarkable and made me reflect on youth in hip hop. To this day, Jay Z and Nas' debut albums are my favorites of their discography. There is something so fresh and honest about a young rappers debut and Joey at only eighteen is certainly on the path to a long and successful career with Pro Era no error!

I had the pleasure of meeting the artists after the show and it was interesting to see the maturity of Ab-Soul versus the genuine preservation of childhood with Pro Era. Despite fame and a constant touring schedule, these teenagers are still kids and that innocence was refreshing.

No comments:

Post a Comment