"Do 'the Smurf,' do 'the Wop,' 'Baseball Bat,' rooftop like we bringing '88 back." On Sunday (Sept. 17), Nas literally took Meadows Festival audience members back to the time where EPMD were the dope new rappers on the scene, the New York Knicks were one of the most exciting championship contenders in the NBA, and we all used to watch "Alf."
If you ask any artist, there's something extra special about performing at home. Before his performance on Sunday, Nas pulled up to the Queensbridge neighborhood he grew up in a tricked out, fully restored 1988 190E Mercedes Benz, with fellow Queens representative Nicki Minaj by his side, both of them wearing Gucci head to toe. It was a moment of triumph for his success and reverence for his humble beginnings.
And once it was time for God's Son to hit the stage, he commenced his homecoming by launching into "New York State of Mind," the first song on the album that would change his life - and Hip Hop - forever.
Nas, who has been debated by fans for over two decades about his standing as greatest MC ever, kept contained to his most cherished classic Illmatic, with the penetratingly pensive "Life's a Bitch" and "If I Ruled the World."
Later, Nas paid respect to Mobb Deep's Prodigy, who tragically passed away in June. A picture of P held steady on the jumbotron that hung above the stage and "Shook Ones PT II" played. The beat for "It's Mine" came on afterward with the lyrical legend pulling the trigger on his famous cameo verse on the Mobb Deep song:
"Silk shirts on my chest show, what a flirt./Halle Berry blew a kiss at the Barbara Streisand concert./Silk pants colored pink, gators match gangster musical thing, And I'll front like my doo doo don't stink./ Instinct like Cuba Gooding, steppin out the latest toy./ Hazard lights blinkin, gators hit the floor./ Everybody watch the red carpet entrance, cameras flashin./Just to think, that was yesterday's action."
"Shit ain't been the same since that brother been gone," Nas added of Prodigy.
"Hip-Hop is Dead" followed, with Nas reminiscing on the controversy the song and album title had when they dropped seven years ago.
"Sorry if I offended you," Nas, with a sly smile, claimed when the record came to an end. "I made that in 2010."
The poetic hitmaker also told the crowd that his views have changed since he made the controversial song and it's namesake LP.
"I do believe hip-hop is alive. It's the most streamed music in the universe," he added.
Nas continued to keep the energy high with "Represent" and after Awards he thanked Michael Jackson, his favorite fellow Virgo.
"When I was nobody, we sampled his record and he cleared the song."
This beaconed a flawless ending to his show with a handful of his most venerated standards: "It Ain't Hard To Tell," "Got Urself A Gun," "Made You Look," and "One Mic."
Nas ended the proceedings in his backyard with mellow, intellectual nourishment with "Stay."
"Peace to the Five Percenters, online engine inventors," his words oozed out the speakers.
"Shout to them niggas, family men, bringin' home dinners./Watch out for desperate lonely women, hurt ya happy home./Miserable and alone, kissable, nice to bone./ She not the type deserving of a throne./Her beauty is her curse, she fuck for shoes and a purse."
The Meadows Festival was highlighted by a heavy hip-hop presence over the weekend (Friday-Saturday). Besides Nas and LL Cool J, JAY-Z, Nicki Minaj, Yo Gotti, Ghostface Killah, Mos Def, Pusha T, Busta Rhymes and Spliff Star, Tory Lanez, Big Boi, Run The Jewels, Action Bronson, De La Soul, Future, and newcomer Mike Floss all took to the stage.