Growing up in the harsh Queensbridge projects that idea of performing, let alone, headlining Radio City Music Hall on New Year’s Eve probably never crossed Nas’ mind. “When I was little we couldn’t afford to come here, now, we own this place tonight!,” Nas told a sold out Radio City a half hour before the ball dropped down the block in Times Square. It was a moment and a night any artist would cherish, but capping off a tremendous 2012, Nas had every reason to be the most excited person performing in New York City on New Year’s Eve.
As the curtains rose at 11pm, Nas’ full backing band began playing the opening bars of “No Introduction,” the lead track off his brilliant 2012 album, Life is Good. While the curtain rose higher, Nas sat on top of a platform on a leather sofa, wearing a full tux, and holding his ex-wife, singer Kelis, green wedding dress and recreated the Life is Good album cover. Taking to the mic and delivering some of the hardest and harshest versus he has ever written, he walked down the platform and onto the stage and tossed the green dress on the ground in anger and symbolically closed the book on a dark time in his life. After a string of lackluster records, lawsuits, issues with record labels, a brutal divorce, the last few years looked like they sucked the life out of Nas, now, after emerging on tracks from colleagues that ranged from Beastie Boys, Santigold, Amy Winehouse, and Rick Ross, Nas proved he still had a fire in his belly. Life is Good is a testament to that fire and fury and brought the poet and rapper from Queens back to the top of the hip-hop game. Taking that energy and fire, Nas took the stage by storm just spitting off classic tacks like “Street Dreams,” “Hate me Now,” “The World is Yours,” and “Life’s a Bitch,” where he brought out special guest, AZ to sing the songs iconic hook. It was also a massive mix of new songs like “The Don,” “Daughters,” “A Queens Story,” “Nasty,” and “Cherry Wine,” where he performed as a tribute to the late Amy Winehouse.
In a career spanning set, the crowd at Radio City was simply in awe of what the hometown hero was doing. It was a night of raw emotion and a fond farewell to a very memorable year and a massive embrace to the new year to come. As midnight ticked, the giant screen behind the band would display a count down and digital ball resembling the one that drops in Times Square. As midnight struck and 2012 ended and 2013 began, hundreds of black and white balloons fell from the ceiling and blanketed the audience. Nas’ family, friends, and team joined the rapper on stage and rang in the new year. Popping bottles of Champaign, Nas kicked it into “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That),” as the first song the crowd would here in 2013. It was then into “Made You Look,” and the emotional “One Mic,” that alterd the emotions of the crowd. With arms in the air, cheers coming from everyone’s faces, and smiles from Nas on stage, it was safe to say this was one party no one will ever forget. As DJ Green Latern would spin a mix of classic soul and R&B cuts on stage before going into Bob Marley’s “One Love,” Nas showed that life is good and we have much to look forward to in the new year.