Nasty Nas may have retired — as SPIN’s Brandon Soderberg points out, his tenth album Life is Good slangs “rap for the 40-and-over crowd” — and the recently re-elected POTUS may have mispronounced the legendary rapper’s three-letter name, but the man born Nasir Jones sits firmly at the top of his game right now. The latest evidence of this? His appearance on Conan on Thursday night, where he performed “World’s an Addiction” with a clutch assist from established soulster Anthony Hamilton.
Backed by a six-piece band that sounded more like an orchestra, Nas pensively stated, “Life. Joy. Pain. Loyalty. Betrayal,” before ceding the first minute-plus to the deep-voiced singer. The MC’s own verses were tight and painted a vivid picture of modern strife over tensely building score. By the end, the music had swelled high enough to drown in, but Nas raised his own pitch to match it: “We all need faith as the world keep changing / Let go of the illusion, start some restraining.” Conan O’Brien walked onto the stage to shake his hand when it was done, and summed up our feelings thusly: “Hey. You killed that, thank you.”