DETROIT -- If fans at Masonic Temple on Thursday night, Aug. 23, had a dollar for every time Nas declared "life is good!," they wouldn't be rushing to buy lottery tickets any time soon.
But life is indeed good for the New York rapper. His album of the same name debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in July -- his third consecutive solo release to hit that mark. So even though the set weighs heavily on his much-publicized divorce from singer Kelis, Nas had every reason to be in a celebratory mood.
And so did the 800 or so fans in the lavish Masonic's third-floor cathedral chapel, which was the incongruous setting for a rowdy session of the Uncapped concert series sponsored by vitaminwater and Fader magazine. It might not be quite what the Masons had in mind for that space, but it was certainly an intimate way to see a heritage rapper with one of the hottest albums of the summer -- and not many live shows on the books right now.
Following a typically riotous 40-minute set by the piano-drums duo Matt & Kim, which culminated with the hit "Daylight," Nas -- sporting a white T-shirt, gray slacks and shades -- was brought on stage by his DJ for nearly an hour of aggressive rhyming and plentiful gratitude for both continued and current support. He offered up a generous selection from "Life is Good," including Da Don," the current single "Daughters," the pointed "Bye Baby" and a particularly strong rendition of "Loco-Motive." Some of his older favorites, including "New York State of Mind," "Ain't Hard to Tell," "Represent," "The World is Ours," "Life's a Bitch" and "Sweet Dreams" were handled in medley fashion, while "If I Ruled the World" was given a little more space to breath.
R&B singer Miguel joined Nas to recreate his vocal hook for the "Life is Good" track "Summer on Smash," and Nas gave the upstart his own minute on stage to deliver his hit "Adorn." "Hip Hop is Dead," meanwhile, led into the new album's "Stay," which along with the rest of the show certainly indicated that hip-hop is alive and well - at least when Nas is doing it.
The performance with Miguel can be viewed at
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