After rocking the music world with his new album’s original title, “N*gger,” Nas celebrated the disc’s release with a sweaty performance at New York City’s Blender Theater Tuesday night (July 15).
New York Hot 97 DJ’s Mister Cee and DJ Enuff opened the show with a long set of throwback rap tracks and crowd-pleasing jokes. As the audience struggled with the Blender Theater’s inefficient air conditioning, a live skit featuring a black couple dressed as slaves began. The pair chatted and acted as if they were picking cotton until a well-dressed white actor entered and hit them both before finally shoving the actors from the stage.
Then Nas, dressed in a simple red polo shirt, white pants, sunglasses and a diamond cross around his neck, entered and performed “N.*.G.G.E.R.” and “Sly Fox,” followed by “Breathe,” which led to another skit. This time a white male college student was hassled by a black undercover police officer and the mock officer threw the student to the ground and forced him off the stage.
“The next album, I’m talking about yachts, man,” Nas said to the crowd with a laugh, making light of the serious subject matter with which his untitled album grapples. “There’s a lot of pressure on me [for this record] but f*ck it, I’ll die for you. I’m going to do this for the n*ggas that inspired me, Muhammad Ali, Harry Belafonte, Frank Sinatra, my heroes.”
He then launched into his current single “Hero,” which was perched at No. 92 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart on the day of the show. Singer Keri Hilson, who is featured on the single, also joined the Queens MC on stage. “N.Y. State of Mind,” “The World Is Yours” and Life’s A Bitch” followed, before Nas succumbed to the venue’s sweltering heat and removed his polo shirt.
Next, the MC and his tour DJ, Green Lantern, performed “Nas Is Like,” “Nastradamus” and a gem from the “Hip Hop Is Dead” LP, “Still Dreaming.” Then as the MC changed clothes again off-stage, the final skit followed.
With an old negro spiritual playing in the background, Nas’ voice boomed through the venue’s speakers that “black women are responsible for all of the food in America — we raised these presidents.” Meanwhile, the aforementioned slave actress entered the stage and served her master from a Kentucky Fried Chicken box. Nas then ran through “Fried Chicken,” sans Busta Rhymes who is featured on the cut, before he tried to rap “Project Roach” but stopped short.
“I really forgot how the sh*t starts, I’m not acting,” said Nas, smiling as he searched for the song’s first lyrics.
Rhyming the remainder of the song accapella, Nas closed the show with “Got Yourself A Gun” and “Made You Look” and thanked his fans with a pinky swear. “It’s hot as hell in here,” said Nas. “The next show will be outside, I promise.”