The crowd turned out in massive numbers and the artists ramped up that energy with the help of Twilight’s chest-rattling sound system. To start, London rapper Tinie Tempah had a confident swagger and quick tongue that turned heads in the direction of the largely unknown MC. Those heads nodded, hands rose and bodies moved as his DJ sampled from his diverse influences, ranging from Outkast and Jay-Z to Squarepusher and U.K. grime. On the bouncing club anthems, brooding street raps and hard-house/hip-hop infusions, the U.K. artist showed potential as a new artist to watch.
Nas maintains that he is, of course, the greatest rapper alive. And naturally, we have heard that from every other rhymer in the game, too. That sort of jostling in hip-hop language is inseparable from the art. Nas, though, is a true originator and veteran with his massive catalogue of albums showcasing a 20-year career. That's not to mention various writers and critics who actually agree with his vie for the king of the mountain.
Nas’ show captivated longtime fans and novice listeners alike. Nas’ precise, intelligent flows are the hallmark of how this veteran rocks a crowd. He told fans that Salt Lake City is a “true hip-hop city” (nice, but I have my doubts), then hit high notes with “Summer on Smash,” a club track with street cred from his new album, followed by crowd favorite, “Get Down.”
The show was characterized by the clear fact that the hip-hop legend intended to make sure that everyone in attendance left feeling good. Despite my inability to walk anywhere or be patient enough for beer lines, the positivity of Nas’ new material and raw reality of his older stuff was satisfying enough.