S-A-R-A Are the Letters That Spell..*SWIPE*




Nas at Roseland, May 15, 2008
May 19th, 2008 [5:39PM] Posted by: Sara Moskovitz | 0 COMMENTS
Nas. He is a legend and one of the greatest emcees to ever hold a mic in his hand. 14 years and 9 albums we’ve waited patiently for Nasir Jones to bless a Portland stage. He finally came and Portland represented and we represented hard.

Thursday night, 800 anxious, throbbing fans, flashing lights and blinking cell phones bombarded Queensbridge, New York’s finest—Nasir “Nasty Nas” Jones—as if the current state of hip hop depended on our presence inside the Roseland Theater. For the first time in Jones’ 14-year, nine album career did one of the greatest emcees to ever hold a mike finally descend onto a Portland stage. A handful of seats away from being a truly sold-out show, the sound emanating from a sea of old and new paramours of the hip hop legend was deliciously deafening. Jones ripped through the first track, “Hip Hop is Dead,” and all 800 (mostly pale, white) arms pumped the air with ferocity, as if in an attempt to relay to Jones, through body language, what a very long time coming this visit had been.

Nigger, Nasir’s upcoming and most controversial LP, is slated for a July release date, so while Jones should be on tour to promote the album (which has been pushed back more than once), he’s not. Last night’s event has been brought to town by a collaboration effort between Thrasher Entertainment and the recently defunct Jammin’ 95.5. There were no merchandise tables, no fliers, no t-shirts, no obnoxious corporate sponsor banners stretched across the stage. Nas himself, wearing khaki shorts, a blank white tee, white socks, white Nike trainers and a gold Jesus medallion around his neck (the only piece of jewelry he’s flaunted for years), embodied the epitome of a raw and unfettered emcee. Undiluted, unadulterated and seemingly unaffected by industry baggage, he paused after performing the first few tracks to thank the swelling crowd for, “keeping him in this messed up game for so long”.

To our delirium, he tore into tracks from Illmatic, Stillmatic, I Am…, God’s Son and Street’s Disciple, pausing only to let us to fill in and sing familiar sections and choruses back to him. He started to sweat and eventually peeled the tee over his head. Stripped down to a wife beater and increasingly sagging Khakis, Nas continued smashing through his discography with fiery finesse. All 800 arms remained in the air, hovering only to break into stadium-level thunder between songs. He rocked for exactly an hour. It was all he had been paid to do—and while we hung around roaring in anticipation for an encore, the Black Escobar had officially left the building. He told us he’d be back, that he loves this town. Sure, it could just be for the Nikes and the weed, but even if it takes him another decade to come back to Portland, Nasir Jones flew home to Queens knowing what a lifetime of pent-up, unwavering adoration feels like.

N-A-S are the letters that spell…


All photos by Sara.

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