Review of Nas’ Life Is Good Tour at O2 Arena, London – 19 March 2013
Me and my friends, we have a list of which artists we want to see live. You’ve all got a list like this, might not be physical, but you all know who you want to see before you/they die. Over the years, I’ve seen some greats. James Brown was spectacular, every bit the performer you expect. I saw Jay-Z before he retired. Then he came back and I’ve seen him a further 6 times. I’ve seen the Wu-Tang Clan, BlackStar, Rakim, Cypress Hill, people who I view as being true pioneers in the rap game. There’s a few names missing like KRS-One, Busta Rhymes, Chuck D, and I’ll never get the chance to see Biggie or Tupac. But last night, I ticked off a big one, I saw Nas at the O2 arena on his ‘Life Is Good’ tour.
First thing to say is that Nas was supposed to be supported by Meek Mill. I was looking forward to this, his album ‘Dreams and Nightmares’ is solid, he’s got a catalogue of bangers that get the crowd hyped, and I thought he’d be a really great act to see. Then he cancelled. No idea why still, but apparently though, his proposed European tour last year ran into issues due to his criminal past. Could this have been a similar issue this time round? Now here at MusicEyz, we don’t get into speculation. We do however, make up complete lies, so Meek Mill cancelled due to this fact his pet badger, Steven, got kidnapped by a Geordie drug dealing cartel. There, now you know. MusicEyz, bring the facts as always.
Anyway, he was replaced by Iggy Azalea and 2Chainz, who were added to the bill along with UK rapper Coops. Now I’m extremely sorry to say that I arrived too late to see Coops and Iggy, but to make up (and Ed Eyz will smack me if I don’t deliver on this – Ed- More than smack you Slates), I’ll review their next singles, guaranteed. I’ve heard good things about coops, and Iggy is well known now, her Australian flow is working well on T.I.‘s Grand Hustle label, along with our own Chip‘s UK sound. Anyhow, gutted I didn’t get to see them, but looking at some pictures online, Iggy was looking stunning! Iggy, Coops, send me some stuff and I’ll definitely review it.
So, onto 2Chainz… Sigh….
Now, I’ve been down with Ludacris since 1999. Ludacris, a rapper from Atlanta, Georgia, one of my all time favourites and who I regard as one of the most under-rated rappers alive, started in the game with his crew, Disturbing Tha Peace (DTP). Of the members of this crew, Tity Boi, had some good lines back in the day. However, after 13 years or so, he decide that the name “Tity Boi” wasn’t very marketable, so re-branded himself 2Chainz, and his career has flourished since. He’s released his debut album (Based On A T.R.U. Story), signed to Kanye West‘s G.O.O.D. Music label, had some great singles out including the smash hit ‘Mercy‘, and ‘No Lie‘ with Drake, and last week, was voted number 2 on the annual ‘MTV Hottest MC’s in the Game’ list (Kendrick Lamar was number one, well deserved in my opinion). So, 2Chainz is sounding pretty good, huh?
He was, well he was just terrible. I’m sorry if you’re reading this 2Chainz, but it needs to be said. This is just my opinion though, no one else’s, and as I say, I’ve been bangin’ your stuff and Playaz Circle‘s stuff for years. I don’t get why it didn’t work though. The beats were all bangers, you played all your hits and features. Tracks like ‘No Lie‘ or ‘Beez In The Trap’ got the crowd going. But your album tracks, even hype tracks like ‘Crack’ didn’t seem to get the crowd going. Co-incidentally, your best track was the one that was played on the video screen when you took a break half way through your 30 minute set. You were animated and excited, but I didn’t feel it. Not sure why. I do think a few of your lines need fixing though. The line “My favourite dish is turkey lasagne, even my pyjamas are designer” is just rubbish. Sorry mate, I wanted to enjoy your set, but just didn’t, and thus, drank, HARD!!!
So after an interval, we got to the main event, Nas. And boy, God’s Son did not disappoint. I’ve seen Nas perform in DVDs and online clips usually him, a DJ and some decks. Not this time though! He had a grand piano, a trumpet player, guitar, bass guitar, drums, and a few keyboards. He had a DJ too, not just any DJ, the evil genius, the legendary, DJ Green Lantern. What a superstar!!!
So Nas came out and played a few tracks from his latest album, ‘Life Is Good’, which when the album came out, I didn’t feel as much as his older stuff, but I’m definitely going to go back and listen again now. ‘The Don’ was a banger when it came out, and it really got the crowd moving. As we went through his tracks, he kept going back, and the crowd was absolutely hypnotised when he did tracks like ‘NY State of Mind’, ‘The World Is Yours’ and ‘Life’s A Bitch‘, showing that he really had the Day 1 fans in the building. He also paid tribute to greats like Bob Marley, and one of his support singers was a relation to Nat King Cole too. Lots of old school feel.
In-fact, talking about feel, I said to a work colleague that day, I wasn’t sure we’d get the intimacy and feel of a gig at the Roundhouse, Brixton Academy or Brighton’s Concorde2 (I love that dump!) at the O2. How would a true MC put on a show in such a large arena. The answer, very well. His band made it come alive, the lighting was great, the massive banners either side of the screen showing close ups of Nas made you see his smile (and he really was smiling a lot, you could tell he was having a great time). Also, half way through the gig, he came to the centre of the arena, jumped on a cherry picker and gave us a great rendition of ‘Accident Murderers’, my favourite track off his last album (shame his collaborator, Rick Ross wasn’t there, never mind!). Anyway, I forgot I was in such a large venue, a place that can at times, feel defunct of intimacy and soul. I just felt the music and history of the man’s career.
But Nas also kept it current. A few years back, he recorded a track called ‘Cherry Wine’ with Amy Winehouse, and when that came one, the crowd erupted. £1 from every ticket sold was going to the Amy Winehouse Foundation, a great cause, and there was a rapturous round of applause when her picture was on the big screen during ‘Cherry Wine’. A great touch, made all the more special because we were in London, her home.
For me, the two highlights of the night were ‘NY State of Mind’ and ‘Made You Look’. They’re two of my all time favourite tracks. ‘NY State of Mind‘ is gritty, and that was definitely true last night, but the new take on it with the live band was fantastic, really different sounding. Made You Look just wanted to make you jump and go crazy, WHICH WE DID! I also loved ‘Get Down’, as the trumpet player on stage really helped bring it to life with the drummer and bass player.
So overall, I missed, half of the gig, and one of the support acts was rubbish. So overall was it a good gig? HELL YEAH! Nas was immense, he showed us all again why he’s a lyrical genius, a true MC and not just a rapper, and made us appreciate the Hip Hop culture and music that we’re all fans of.
I’ve ticked another legend off my list. Today, I’m a happy man.
As Nas said repeatedly last night, ‘Life Is Good’.
Were you at the gig? Is Nas on your list of artists you must see? Maybe you can’t stand Nas since ‘Illmatic‘. Whatever your point of view, let us know. Simply add a comment below, tweet us @musiceyz or post on the Music Eyz Facebook Page
Review by Dan Slater