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Acclaimed Rapper Nas Brings “Illmatic” to the Oregon Symphony

This performance won’t end at 42 minutes, with Nas exclaiming, “This was the end of the cassette. It was just nine songs!”

The Oregon Symphony recently added a show to its fall season, a Wednesday, Nov. 10, show simply called Nas with the Oregon Symphony.

The evening represents a rare stop on the limited tour that hip-hop artist Nas (Nasir Jones) has taken this year—celebrating the 25 years since Illmatic first hit streets and placed Nas on the map as one of the greatest rappers of his generation, if not all time. He’s not playing every major city. In fact, at this time, it appears he’s only hitting a handful—Portland among them.

While it’s been 25 years since Illmatic dropped, it’s only been seven since Nas performed the album in its entirety at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., with the National Symphony Orchestra—a recording that never fails to hit my soft heart and make my eyes mist. This show presents an opportunity for Portlanders to see a similar set live.

However, it’s worth noting that Nas with the Oregon Symphony will actually contain more music than that dedicated 2014 performance.

The Nov. 10 performance will include all of Illmatic—accompanied by Portland’s Oregon Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Norman Huynh. The orchestra will be working from the same pieces composed by Derrick Hodge and Daru Jones for the 2014 performance, with charts commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra for that incredible show.

But this performance won’t end at 42 minutes, with Nas exclaiming, “This was the end of the cassette. It was just nine songs!”

A representative for the Oregon Symphony tells WW that the last 20 to 25 minutes will treat audiences to versions of newer material, with just Nas and his touring band. Audiences can expect the second portion of the evening to include live versions of tracks from It Was Written, I Am…, Stillmatic and 2020′s King’s Disease, for which Nas won his first Grammy last year.

GO: Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, portland5.com. 7:30 pm Wednesday, Nov. 10. $50-$175.