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Nas-ty taste in the mouth

Lynda Moyo attends a hip-hop wake at the Manchester Apollo.

Written by . Published on May 23rd 2007.

Nas-ty taste in the mouth

Nas, one of hip-hop’s most profound lyricists landed at the Apollo on Monday as part of Hip-Hop is Dead: The Tour. A rowdy crowd awaited one of the biggest names in hip-hop, booing the supporting acts in the process. This sounds rude but if you’ve paid good money to see the ‘King of Hip-Hop’, the last thing you want to see are some Manchester part-timers normally appearing live on the backseat of a Magic Bus near you. Not that the support wasn’t credible in its own right, just not fitting for a show of this prestige. As the crowd said, ‘We want Nas, we want Nas.’

As with many hip-hop concerts, there wasn’t much to watch. It’s literally the artist and a microphone, but I guess if you want dancing, go and see Girls Aloud at the MEN.

Three long hours later Nas hit the stage, with a whimper more than a bang but by this point the crowd were just glad to see what they’d paid for. He was dressed in tracksuit bottoms, a ‘wife-beater’ vest, cap and shades (because the sun was positively blinding in the Apollo at 10pm). You couldn’t miss the throw-back rope gold chain with the biggest dollar sign pendant ever to be seen.

A true rappers delight, Nas didn’t disappoint when it came to the tunes. There is certainly no disputing his MC skills. He covered all bases from the 1994 Illmatic (his best album by far) to the more recent Hip Hop is Dead (a fair effort but a long way from Illmatic). Unfortunately the crowd only seemed to come to life with the more commercial tracks such as the ear grating ‘I can,’ not so much hip-hop but ‘its illegitimate child, hip-pop’ as poet Sarah Jones once said. But this is just a reflection of what hip-hop has become: mainstream.

As with many hip-hop concerts, there wasn’t much to watch. It’s literally the artist and a microphone, but I guess if you want dancing and drama, go and see Girls Aloud at the MEN. Hip Hop isn’t about that, as Nas pointed out in his song ‘One mic.’

The most disappointing part was that Nas didn’t do an encore. Not only that, he didn’t say goodbye, obviously he couldn’t be bothered. Doubly disappointing following last year’s cancelled show and an attitude fans wouldn’t expect from the self proclaimed ‘Street’s Disciple’ of the New York projects. Clearly hip-hop has moved a long way from the ghettos. This is big business with big, gold rope chains with dollar sign pendants.

Perhaps it’s time that Mr. Jones remembers who’s paying for his Bentley. If this is the best show on offer then hip-hop really is dead. And Nas is burying it.

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MariaMay 23rd 2007.

You are not far from the truth there Lynda, hip hop really is dead with a performance like that. I expected a lot more booty shaking dancers, bit more glitz and glam. He only rapped 6 songs, and for a guy that's got about 10 albums I wasn't impressed!

Northern MonkeyMay 23rd 2007.

Fair points there from Lynda. I almost always expect more from a Hip Hop live show but unfortunately Hip Hop shows like to play up to the boring stereotype that has plagued it for so long: A DJ, The MC (who rarely does more than 2 verses of each hit) and a Hype Man who shouts over the star of the show.I noticed Nas was refered to as 'The King of Hip Hop' (a title I will debate until the end of time) in the article what I find strange as a Hip Hop fan is that whilst Nas is playing in front of thousands of fans paying over £30 each. The real king of Hip Hop and the most intelligent man to grace the genre, KRS One, was playing at the other end of the Country in front of less than a couple of hundred fans who had paid less than £10 each. As Lynda pointed out in the article Hip Hop has become mainstream and Nas has more of that appeal than KRS One.The real passion of Hip Hop has dissappeared and as Nas rebels against what he preached in his recent hit 'Hip Hop is Dead' and counts the money in his pocket and ponders how much he will spend on his wife's next set of gold teeth, some of the most unappreciated and talented artists will continue to strive on and keep doing what they do instead of creating spin to re-launch an already declining Hip Hop career.Nice article, it was a good read.

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