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S45 Ep18

Nas Live From the Kennedy Center: Classical Hip-Hop

Premiere: 2/2/2018 | 00:01:44 | Closed Captioning Icon

Two decades after the album’s critically acclaimed release, Nas teamed up with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, to stage a symphonic rendition of “Illmatic,” one of the most revered albums in hip-hop history. Great Performances — Nas Live From the Kennedy Center: Classical Hip-Hop premieres Friday, February 2 at 9PM on PBS (check local listings).

About the Episode

GREAT PERFORMANCES Presents Nas Performing “Illmatic”
With the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center on February 2 on PBS

Two decades after the album’s critically acclaimed release, hip-hop artist Nas teamed up with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., to stage a symphonic rendition of “Illmatic,” one of the most revered albums in hip-hop history. The new concert film Great Performances — Nas Live From the Kennedy Center: Classical Hip-Hop captures the energy and nostalgia of this collaborative performance and premieres nationwide Friday, February 2 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). The program will be available to stream the following day at pbs.org/gperf and PBS apps.

Released in 1994, “Illmatic” is the seminal debut album from Nas, and has long been considered one of the greatest hip-hop records of all time. The album is a densely textured, deeply lyrical portrait of life in the largest public housing project in North America, the Queensbridge Houses, located in the Long Island City area of New York City, home to nearly 7,000 people.

“It’s crazy, you know, I wrote this in the projects in New York City. Here we are in the capital of America, Washington, DC, and, you know, a bunch of white people with strings and all that, playing this album, and they [sic] feeling it,” says Nas in exclusive behind-the-scenes footage captured during on-stage rehearsal before the concert.

Alternating between candid reflections from Nas, photos from his youth, backstage footage and a symphonic performance of “Illmatic,” the program gives an inside look at the inspiration behind Nas’ music and his early life growing up in New York City. The combination of Nas and the orchestra reinvents the sound of some of his most popular songs, like “N.Y. State of Mind,” “The World Is Yours,” “Memory Lane (Sittin’ in Da Park)” and “It Ain’t Hard to Tell” to create a classical hip-hop journey.

“This was the first time, as a classical orchestra conductor, I was going to branch out into the realm of doing hip-hop music and rap music. And the idea of finally tackling this genre was something I was really looking forward to do,” says National Symphony Orchestra Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke about this innovative collaboration.

This performance was recorded live in March 2014 as the centerpiece of the One Mic: Hip Hop Culture Worldwide festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., home of the National Symphony Orchestra.

Great Performances is produced by THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. Throughout its more than 40-year history on public television, Great Performances has provided viewers across the country with an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural programming.

A Mass Appeal production, Nas Live From the Kennedy Center: Classical Hip-Hop is directed by Jason Goldwatch and executive produced by Nas, Anthony Saleh, Peter Bittenbender and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.

About The National Symphony Orchestra Print

The 2017–2018 season marks the National Symphony Orchestra’s 87th season, and Gianandrea Noseda’s first as its music director. The Italian conductor serves as the Orchestra’s seventh music director, joining the NSO’s legacy of such distinguished leaders as Christoph Eschenbach, Leonard Slatkin, Mstislav Rostropovich, Antal Dorati, Howard Mitchell, and Hans Kindler. Its artistic leadership also includes Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke and Artistic Advisor Ben Folds. Founded in 1931, the Orchestra has always been committed to artistic excellence and music education. In 1986, the National Symphony became an artistic affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where it has performed a full season of subscription concerts since the Center opened in 1971. The 96-member NSO regularly participates in events of national and international importance, including official holiday celebrations through its regularly televised appearances for Capitol Concerts, and local radio broadcasts on Classical WETA 90.9FM, making the NSO one of the most-heard orchestras in the country. The Orchestra performs approximately 150 concerts each year, including classical and popular concerts at the Kennedy Center, at Wolf Trap in the summer, and on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol; chamber music performances in the Terrace Theater, on the Millennium Stage, and at theaters around D.C. It has a distinguished history of touring, and an extensive education program, with a range of offerings for families and children ages three and up. Additionally, the NSO’s community engagement projects are nationally recognized, including NSO In Your Neighborhood, which comprises a week of approximately 50 performances in schools, churches, community centers, and other neighborhood venues, and Sound Health, a collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and its affiliated organizations. Career development opportunities for young musicians include the NSO Youth Fellowship Program and its acclaimed Summer Music Institute. For more information, visit nationalsymphony.org.

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TRANSCRIPT

[MUSIC] NAS: You could say I had a foresight about where I would be, where I should be, where I had to be.

You know, before there was a fan base, or crowd, or audience, I was the fan base.

The mirror was my audience.

Myself, in a room by myself...was all I needed.

[MUSIC] I wrote this in the projects in New York City.

The bridge is very wild 365 days a year.

Here we are in the capital of America...Washington DC (I see you all over here.) Playing this album.

[MUSIC] I hope the audience look at me like 'yo look at this kid from the hood...on the stage where he belongs.'

NAS (RAPPING): I sip the Dom P, watchin' Gandhi 'til I'm charged, then Writin' in my book of rhymes, all the words past the margin Behold the mic I'm throbbin', my movement Understandable smooth **** that murderers move with The thief's theme, play me at night, they won't act right The fiend of hip-hop got me stuck like a crack pipe The mind activation, react like I'm facin' Time like Pappy Mason.. NAS: I worked on my thing.

I worked on my craft and I stuck to it.

MAN: This is Nasty Nas, and the whole Queens bridge masters class... [CHEERING] MAN: Nas is on the run.

He's on the run, no question.

He's on the run.

NAS: I hope that you can look through the dream with me and see the journey I took to be on the stage with an orchestra.

NAS (RAPPING): President Barack Obama ...he represents me.

NAS: I knew it was bigger than just what was on the record.

And it was like...this is what it's about.

NAS (RAPPING): The world is yours.

The world is yours.

Can you believe it?

It's your world.

It's yours!

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