Despite not being the headliner of night four at Bluesfest, Nas was certainly the highlight of the night for every hip hop fan in attendance. The show opened with the bass turned so loud that if you were near the front, you were probably blown back to the Bell stage. Chain swinging and energy high, Nas shut the stage down alongside long-time collaborator, DJ Green Lantern. Thanking the Ottawa crowd for making him feel so at home here, he gave the fans a barrage of classics from ‘If I Ruled the World’, to ‘It Aint Hard to Tell’, ‘One Mic’, and ‘The World is Yours’. Much like many humbled hip hop artists, Nas took part of his show to pay homage to those who have inspired him throughout his career– particularly Michael Jackson, as a sample of ‘Human Nature’ played in the background. Not forgetting the younger cats like Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and J. Cole, praising that they are “speaking to his soul”. Nasir got a little weird with us (in an awesome way) when he confided that he likes to listen to classical music while he’s smoking and drinking. He seemed to zone out, eyes closed, for a solid minute while a Mozart-esque piano piece played– not surprising for an artist who frequently samples different music in his songs. “Hip Hop is alive here tonight”, he said, as a sea of people from old school to new school raised their hands and mouthed every song back to him.
In a sort of confusing twist, having once been the opening act for Nas, Iggy Azalea was the headliner of the night’s lineup. While the widely popular opinion of the hip hop community was to have Nas headline (or at least play on) the main stage instead, Iggy did give a star performance that may have changed a few people’s minds. She mentioned briefly during her set that she’s been having an “interesting” few months, having not performed on stage in quite a while, thanking her Ottawa fans for being there. It was an upbeat, colourful performance and those in attendance seemed to have a blast watching her perform.
Earlier in the day, we caught performances from fellow Canadians Francesco Yates (Toronto) and G. Grand (London, ON) who both started off the day with a great vibe. With an audience full of friends (and family whom he’s never performed live for), G. Grand impressed us with his rapid-fire flow and seemingly effortless stage presence. Back on the Bell Stage, Francesco Yates blew us away with his soulful, falsetto-driven voice, his James Brown inspired dance moves, and his instrumental talents. Both of these young cats are two artists you’ll want to look out for.
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