Nas Main Stage, Toronto Island ON, June 13

Nas Main Stage, Toronto Island ON, June 13
Photo: Rick Clifford

It began with hype; it ended with fireworks. Everything in between was pure gold.

There's always a certain amount of apprehension when a bona fide legend performs decades after his prime. You can't help but wonder whether he'll simply rely on the weight of his hits or actually put on a great show. Fortunately, Nas fell into the latter category. Sure, his classic tracks would have been enough to hold up a lacklustre performance, but he was tight enough to make them come alive again.

Having just passed the 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking debut Illmatic, Nas's Bestival set was a back-in-the-day stroll through some truly vintage hip-hop, which for many was the perfect gig. "Life's A Bitch," "The World Is Yours" and "N.Y. State of Mind" were performed with all the zeal of the 21-year-old Nas that recorded them. Although they were — understandably — overshadowed by the beast that is "Represent." It may have been older than a large portion of the crowd, but it nevertheless caused a wave of happiness to ripple through the Bestival attendees. 

Nas's flow was on point and his song selection was amazing, but it was really the beat-less interludes that made his show so enjoyable. Between tracks, he gave big props to Toronto, Bestival, the audience, and hip-hop in general. He was a one man hype-machine. His enthusiasm came across as so genuine that everyone felt it.