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Nas Represents In Arizona

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Nas tears it up at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Photo by Jeff Moses.
The Hip-Hop Legend Runs Through All Of The Hits While Engaging Devoted Fans At A Concert Put On By The Arizona State Fair


By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine

Oct. 24, 2012 — Hip-hop icon Nas played a headlining show at the Arizona State Fair on Oct. 20 and the legendary MC displayed why he has such a sterling reputation.

He performed with the help of a live band, and if Nas wasn’t enough the evil genius, DJ Green Lantern who is an icon in his own right, and Nasir Jones along with his six piece ensemble put a hurting on the stage at the coliseum.

The crowd was so small that coliseum security allowed many of the fans who were sitting up in the general admission 300 level seats to move down to the 200 level as well as the floor seating to fill in the venue before the show started.

But once the lights dimmed and the band took the stage you wouldn’t be able to tell by the sound of the fans that the crowd was any less than 10,000.

I’ve shot a lot of shows in the Phoenix area, but never before have I been to star struck to work the camera until Nas hit the stage at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

What ensued was ultimately a once in a lifetime experience, a multi-platinum hip-hop artist in a state fair setting who is promoting a brand new top 10 album. He didn’t treat the fair crowd to less a show. He delved into his classics in front of a live band with all the passion and enthusiasm of playing a headlining set at Coachella.

Naturally, the set could not start without a shout out to weed smokers, and once Nas did that, the entire coliseum filled with the aroma of freshly lit marijuana, and unlike the Weezer show a week earlier, security was not escorting the culprits out.

Another difference between Nas and some of the earlier State Fair headliners seemed to be legitimate interest from the crowd.

When Nas made calls to the crowd, the crowd got really into it and when he didn’t sing a chorus, it was all good because the fans picked right up where he left off.

Nas performed every song a hip-hop head and Nas fan would want to hear. He played “New York State of Mind,” “One Mic,” “The World is Yours,” “Life’s a Bitch,” and others off his debut album Illmatic which is often heralded as one of the greatest hip-hop albums ever.

He also played a good mix of his hits through a career that has spanned more than 20 years including “The Thieves Theme,” “Hip-Hop Is Dead,” and “I Know I Can.”

Nas also touched upon his deeply personal songs like “Bridging The Gap,” which features his father, Olu Dara, who was a blues/jazz musician from Mississippi. In previous concerts Nas performed that particular song with his father accompanying him, but for the state fair, a recording had to suffice.

Nas also played his controversial hit song “Hate Me Now,” which caused a lot of buzz back in 1999 when the Hype Williams music video depicted Nas in a loin cloth and crown of thorns carrying a giant wooden cross through the desert.

There was no cross for the iconic emcee to bear in Phoenix, and the entire night was a love-fest between Nas and his fans, all of whom couldn’t have been happier to pay a meager $10 to enjoy the songs of their favorite hip-hop legend.

Jeff Moses is a freelance writer and photographer from Teaneck, N.J. and is currently living in Mesa, Ariz. He has been published in The Mesa Legend, and The Highway Herald. Contact him by calling 727-385-0624.
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