This week saw hip hop master Nas (aka New Yorker Nasir Jones) performing his album ‘Illmatic’. It’s 20 years since the album was released in 1994 and Nas has been touring and performing it live around the world. There was a big buzz around the island for this gig. For me however, this album and Nas for that matter somehow passed me by! I’m not sure how as in 1994 I was still living in Manchester, listening to lots of music and had been a big fan of hip hop, amongst other genres. But anyway it did.
For my pre-gig research I turned to iTunes, which says: “Illmatic is so frequently saddled with the mantle of ‘greatest Hip-Hop album of all time’ that it can be difficult for the first time listener to approach it without trepidation”. Which is interesting, because that’s exactly how I was feeling about the gig. I’m not fond of gigs in which artists play a complete album, especially if it’s one that you don’t know well. But Ibiza Rocks is a great venue to see any artist in, so off I went with an open mind, hoping that I would enjoy the gig and possibly even hear something that I recognised.
And I certainly did on both counts! Arriving at the venue just before Nas appeared on stage at 11pm because I was rooting for Netherlands to beat Argentina in the World Cup, he bounded onstage, and immediately showed us he meant business. Starting with ‘N. Y. State of Mind’, he pretty much performed the album in order, deviating slightly towards the end, but then went on to sing lots of other tracks.
Live, the songs really came alive and sounded both raw and fresh. It was one of those nights where I and pretty much everyone else in the venue was dancing. The sound was great and you could hear the lyrics loud and clear over the top of the expert scratching, beats, samples and back-up vocals coming from his sidekick on the decks. Combined with stunning backdrop projections, many featuring images and video footage from New York, of the skyline, people and other stunning images, you could not take your eyes off the stage or keep your feet still.
It was a slick, engaging show, and I was not alone in loving it. It’s just a shame that Netherland’s performance in the World Cup was not the same, as they crashed out of the tournament after a dull game on penalties. To console ourselves we went on to the after party at Ibiza Rocks House at Pikes where we were treated to some great tunes from Colin Peters, Jeff Automatic and others until the hours of the morning. It was a great night, but shame about the football!
Life’s a Bitch:
The World is Yours:
Words & video by ClaireB
Click on images for larger versions
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