NAS Shines Up His Crown With A Popular Homecoming Show at Madison Square Garden

For his first show at the Garden, the Queens rap star gave a set that covered his whole career. Nas raps, “My picture is the Jordan logo of this rap s—,” on 2021’s “YKTV,” which is short for “You Know the Vibes” and is from his King’s Disease sequel that was nominated for a Grammy.

That “photo” is, of course, his debut album, Illmatic, which blew the doors off the hip-hop world when it came out in 1994. Just based on how it made people feel, that album has a strong case for being the best example of the genre.

But on a windy, cold Friday night (Feb. 24) in New York City, the vibes were certain for another important event: Nas’s first show as the main act at Madison Square Garden.

No matter how long it’s taken to get here, this night couldn’t have come at a better time. As hip-hop celebrates its 50th anniversary, Nas just put out King’s Disease III, the third part of his Grammy-winning series with super producer Hit-Boy, his wide receiver.

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Still, Nas’s show on Friday was a win for hip-hop and for him as well. It was a proud moment for all of his fans, from those who remember the first time they heard “Live at the Barbecue” to those who just started listening to him because of his more recent work.

Overall, the Garden was the best place that could have been chosen for this party. During his fiery performance of “I’m on Fire,” Nas yelled, “Live in Madison Square now, we’re on fire!” as flames shot around him.

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And he was on fire, playing one great song after another during his 34-song set. Keeping with the “King’s Disease Trilogy” theme of the night, the Queens rap star pulled out gems from all three albums, from the story-based “Blue Benz” and “Car 85” to the party-themed “Spicy” and “Get Light.”

By the time the last song played, the sold-out MSG had almost turned into a park jam, with fans moving from row to row swaying, bopping, and two-stepping. Esco didn’t slow down at all last night, just like his work over the last two years has shown.

Between the songs from King’s Disease, he fit in a few songs from his 2021 project, Magic. These included cult hits like “Speechless” and “Wave Gods,” which got a lot of attention.

Nas’s performance of these relatively new songs to a fully engaged audience in a sold-out Madison Square Garden was a sight to behold. Even he seemed surprised by it at times, pausing for a moment to enjoy the atmosphere. At one point, he stopped to think, and then he turned the spotlight on the other part of his winning formula: Hit-Boy.

Nas praised the producer by saying, “I love this brother for getting the art out of me again.” He then asked the producer to join him onstage for the floor-shaking song “Michael & Quincy.” No one stayed in their seats, especially as more surprises came one by one.

Nas brought out Mary J. Blige to perform “You Remind Me” after he played “Reminisce,” a song that samples a certain Queen of Hip-Hop Soul. After he did King’s Disease, he jumped to other hits, like Illmatic, from the rest of his catalog.

You have to always go back to Illmatic. This time, he sent out “N.Y. State of Mind” while wearing an orange jumpsuit, a skully that matched, wheat-colored Timberland boots, and his diamond-covered “QB” chain.

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After that, he brought out AZ for “Life’s a Bitch” and Slick Rick, who he called “my mother—ing hero,” for “Hey, Young World.” He kept his foot on the gas and ran through a mix of songs, including “The Message,” “Street Dreams,” “If I Ruled the World,” “Hate Me Now,” “Made You Look,” and “One Mic.”

He did this because he knew how big and important the night was. When they played “Memory Lane (Sittin’ In Da Park),” it was one of their best moments.

For the second verse, he got rid of the instrumental and gave a master class in mic control by singing the tricky verse a capella with perfect clarity and breath control. As he took a bow and was showered with praise from the crowd, it was clear that Nas is still that good.

Before the encore, Nas said, “I don’t want to leave yet,” and then he brought back the party atmosphere that had been strong all night.

As people cheered and waved their hands all over the arena, he played more hits like “Hot Boyz (Remix),” “Oochie Wally,” and “Owe Me.” He ended the night with an emotional reminder: “We did it!”