Live Review: Nas, Talib Kweli & Jay Electronica

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Nas, Talib Kweli & Jay Electronica

Amos' Southend

July 29, 2008

By Mike McCray

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The Deal: Jay Electronica (the new guy), Talib Kweli (the veteran) and Nas (the hall of famer) touch down in the Queen City to give Charlotte a lesson in hip-hop.

The Good: Jay Electronica proclaiming that there are Southern artists out here that will “melt yo face!” was enjoyable. Talib Kweli packing a lot of energy and crowd participation into a set that included tracks from his solo and Blackstar albums. Nas was … Nas. From coming on stage with the doo-rag and red party cup to talking about his special relationship with Charlotte, which was his mother’s hometown and where many of his family members still reside, Nas didn’t have to do much to rock an already geeked up crowd. He joked, “Ain’t it a shame I have to come all the way down here to perform just to see my family” before leading the audience on a lyrical journey that went all the way back to songs he made in 1991 when he was 16, of course through Illmatic, It Was Written and I Am…, paused on Stillmatic for a few tracks and spliced in newer material from his most recent projects Hip Hop Is Dead and of course the #1 album in the country Untitled (we all know the real name). Escobar took requests from the crowd but only came off a bar or two of “Ether.” Proclaiming one of the greatest moments in hip-hop and teasing the audience that they knew who won that battle. DJ Green Lantern wasn’t bad at all: He did a good job playing the background instead of trying to take even billing with the star.

The Bad: The surrounding audience always factors into how much you enjoy a concert. I’m usually a fan of intimate venues but unlike other concerts I’ve been to at Amos, this one required too much movement and too little space. From being slapped by waving hands, dreadlocks and purses to going damn near deaf in my left ear from the woman who didn’t know the words but insisted on screaming along, it was a long night.

Jay Electronica was almost in this section until his last few minutes on stage saved his set. Talib’s time on stage was a little short and Nas seemed a little short-winded. (Somebody get the man a bottled water!)

The Verdict: Not an A+ but a solid A-. I won’t be rushing out to get Jay Electronica’s next album. I expected a little more from Talib Kweli but he can’t control the time, and Nas is a legend. Legends stopping to rock in Charlotte, must see.

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