[Watch] 20 Years of Illmatic: Nas Performs with National Symphony Orchestra
PBS did their thing this weekend with the release of a documentary entitled, Great Performances. It showcased one of Hip Hop's most influential and established artists in the game, Nas. Taking place at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., we are shown a side of Nas that has not been touched on in the last 24 years. Illmatic, released in 1994, put Nas on a path of unprecedented success as it was his debut album under Columbia Records. With only 10 songs, Nas set the bar high with dope beats and raw lyrics that really shined light on the authenticity that hip hop could bring. It was only right that 20 years later, this same dynamic could be felt but, now with the use of acoustics.
Being able to get a feel of Queens in the 90's, while vibing out to violins, flutes and guitars was an amazing concept. Giving a new symphonic sound to classic songs like Halftime and Memory Lane helped to not only engage the audience, but also truly showed the evolution of Nas' artistry.
As a person who is intrigued by documentary-style production, this special had me in awe on so many levels. Many of the scenes open up with exclusive b-roll of NYC and Nas' interactions with friends and family from his hood. The slow pans of the projects in Queens, intertwined with shots of the Kennedy's Center's more pristine ambience really meshed well, showing us Nas' growth, in a sense. Being able to get a behind-the-scenes reflection of his last 20 years in hip hop in this unique way was super dope to me!
It's really refreshing to see how far hip hop has come forreal. Being able to perform with the National Symphony Orchestra with a genre of music they are not accustomed to, and making it sound as amazing as the original was well thought out. This was a great way to not only open a new door in hip hop but also solidify Nas as one of the top artists of our time. Make sure y'all check it out below!