Nas at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom, 11-15-13 (photos, review)By Ru Johnson | November 18th, 2013 | 5 comments
Packed into the 1,000-capacity Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom, an ecstatic audience belted the hook to “If I Ruled the World” with Nas on Friday. A song normally performed in front of arena audiences, Denver had the rare opportunity to see the hip-hop legend in an intimate setting. The show itself even came as a surprise when the Queensbridge MC announced last week that he would step in for Mos Def who was unable to play So-Gnar’s Fall Shredded Beats concert.
With no chatter, Nas got right to business, kicking off with the newer track “Locomotive” from “Life is Good.” Vocally he sounded in top form and not the least bit winded as he ran through the classics, “It Ain’t Hard to Tell,” and “Made You Look.” In front of an adoring crowd Nas could do very little wrong, however relying on the audience to rap the bridge to “One Mic,” was slightly disappointing. During “If I Ruled the World,” the MC took time to acknowledge Denver’s legal smoking rights to complement the lyrics “imagine smoking weed in the streets without cops harassing.”
While his set was short and sweet, somehow he managed to mix a medley of classic tracks (“The World is Yours,” “Hate Me Now” and “Got Yourself a Gun”) with much of his newer material (“Bye Baby”). Backed by DJ Green Lantern this was a personal and passionate evening with Nas. At times the MC was drowned out by the deafening screams of sheer happiness from fans, and other moments he dominated the loud crowd with his flow.
Earlier in the night New York’s Dillon Cooper performed a rather long set for a newcomer, but kept the vibes moving straight into The ReMINDers’ performance. The husband and wife duo are always dynamic, pitch perfect and a crowd favorite. The room was full of hoodies and gold chains, Timbaland boots and audience members rapping the lyrics to “Life’s a Bitch,” as if their lives depended on it. In essence, the entire place was straight out of ’90s basement party.
Ru Johnson is an arts and culture music writer living in Denver. You can follow her on Twitter here.
Nathan Iverson is a Denver photographer and regular contributor to Reverb.