Nas Teams Up With the National Symphony Orchestra for Live Rendition of ‘Illmatic’

Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Rolling Stone
Nas performs at the Rolling Stone Live: Houston presented by Budweiser and Mercedes-Benz on Feb. 4, 2017 in Houston, Texas.

If you ever wondered what Nas would sound like with a live orchestra backing him, next month will be your chance to find out. It’s been over two decades since the release of the Queens native’s iconic debut album Illmatic, but Nasrecently teamed up with the National Symphony Orchestra for a live rendition of his storied project. The performance will premiere through PBS on Feb. 2.

The 44-year-old reflected on how far one of the most revered hip-hop albums of all-time has taken him throughout life’s journey, as he took in the scene from Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center: “It’s crazy, you know, I wrote this in the projects in New York City. Here we are in the capitol of America, Washington, D.C., and, you know, a bunch of white people with strings and all that, playing this album, and they’re feeling it.”

Nicki Minaj and Nas at The Pool Lounge in New York City on Sept. 13, 2017.


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Kanye West did something similar a decade ago, when he traveled to London to perform signature cuts from his first two albums at the historic Abbey Road Studios with an orchestra at his back in 2005. Yeezy ended up releasing the alternate renditions as a live album, titled Late Orchestration, in April 2006.

Check out the Mass Appeal-produced trailer of Nas‘ euphonious performance, which contains ’90s standout hits such as “N.Y. State of Mind” and “The World Is Yours,” below.

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