Live Shots: Nas & Lauryn Hill – Bayou Music Center (10/31)
As the night slowly drew to a close, a few things had to be said. Lauryn Hill, whose last Houston stop in 2010 resulted in one of the longest waits ever to be had at House of Blues, was actually less tardy than imagined to the surprise of everyone. She also let her voice trail on to perform songs of his majestic and landmark album The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill to satisfy everyone who held onto the belief that she’s still a gifted talent in this musical world.
And then she decided to remix some of her tracks to officially weird out most of the standing room only crowd.
Hill, who hasn’t released a proper follow-up to Miseducation in the 14 years following debuted new material for the sold out crowd off of her presumed Black Rage LP. The crowd, somewhat drained by the hour or so wait where they actually have to question the Halloween costume choices of others wasn’t too taking to the new tracks, much like how Essence could only rock with D’Angelo when he wasn’t being outright experimental.
When you want your favorite artists from years, decades past even to perform the material you enjoyed when you were in your teens or grew up with it, you immediately discard any of their newer material. It works in sort of a ying yang concerning the two headliners of the Life Is Good/Black Rage tour. Because Nas, the first kid with a chipped tooth to make his way out of NYC and become a global ambassador for the culture – can do it with the best of them, regardless of era.
Sporting a Marvin Gaye tribute T-shirt, he opened by remarking, “My city is under water! We’re doing this for them!” before launching into “The Don” off Life Is Good. The previous Nas experience for us contained both Pete Rock & DJ Premier on the turntables. This jaunt? A full piece band with DJ Green Lantern that wailed on “It Ain’t Hard To Tell” with interpolations of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature”, a grand flip of James Brown’s “Funky Good Time” before swaying into that smoother than smooth “Can’t Forget About You”.
More than two decades since he announced he went to hell for snuffing Jesus, Nasty Nas could still command a crowd with the best of them. A Nas show on Halloween might be the only time you will ever see The Joker with his painted on, scarred smile yelling “Hate Me Now” at the top of his lungs.
The Crowd: Halloween enthusiasts. You had a nun, the Statue of Liberty (who apparently floated down here), a “slutty” Texans cheerleader, the aforementioned Joker, a Rubix cube, a Carnage-inspired Spiderman, Left Eye and probably the most creative of them all – a couple dressed in Chad Johnson & O.J. Simpson jerseys. The woman in the Johnson jersey did her make up to show she had a bruise from a headbutt. Aces.
Crowd Quotable: “I’m dehydrated!” Said by a woman in heels, who then completed the slowest fall in human history. So slow her friends could have caught her but just let it happen.
Early Notes: Siren Jhené Aiko opened the show, a vast jump from her considering her first major show (to our knowledge) was a showcase at SXSW. The singer only had to rely on her material from sailing souls, a shimmering full length effort that remains one of the best female releases of this or last year and her guest work for the likes of ScHoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar to win fans over in the city. We need more Aiko dates. Please.