The ha, the ha, you never thought hip-hop would take it this far. You know the words, and the legendary voice who spoke them, but even The Notorious BIG would be utterly shocked to find out just how far the culture would go in the twenty years since he released “Juicy.” For instance, who could have ever envisioned Biggie’s fellow New York rap icon Nas performing his seminal debut Illmatic in its entirety at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC with the National Symphony Orchestra? Or that this groundbreaking performance would become the subject of a documentary airing on PBS on February 2nd at 9 PM entitled Nas Live From The Kennedy Center — Classical Hip Hop?
Yet, that’s exactly what’s happened. The most popular genre in the US, which once fought to be recognized as a legitimate art form, has broken through every barrier to reach the heights of high-class culture and one of its most staunch supporters is being recognized by the nation’s longest standing artistic institutions. In Nas’ own words from the trailer above, “I wrote this in the projects in New York City. Here we are in the capital of America, Washington, DC, playing this album, and they feeling it.”
The documentary, directed by Jason Goldwatch and executive produced by Nas, Anthony Saleh, and Peter Bittenbender, will also chronicle Nas’ come-up from the Queensbridge Housing Projects of New York to the very performance described above. It will feature both archival footage and photos of a young Nas and the performance at The Kennedy Center, with classic hip-hop songs such as “It Ain’t Hard To Tell,” “New York State Of Mind,” and “The World Is Yours.” One of hip-hop’s avowed classics is being played in classical style in the capital city of the United States. Biggie would be proud.