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Lovebox – London 2014

Nas-Illmatic

I don’t know how to start this shit, yo…”

It is truly an experience to walk around Victoria Park, London during Lovebox, the DJ and hip-hop festival held each summer. The line-up was enough to attract half of London, primarily the group you find in the early hours of the city’s night spots. The grounds were littered with empty cartridges and discarded butts and cups. Bodies occupied the dingy, clear spots of dust and grass on the outskirts of the multiple stages around the grounds.

Life is parallel to Hell, but I must maintain”

The crowd was on their cocktails and the music was pounding from the Big Top and Main Stage. Sweating bodies pulsated through the heat and the punching of rappers spitting in the air was enough to get the crowd wet.

The conundrum we all face is which headliner to see. My inner college student was aching to run to see M.I.A but the New Yorker  in me held strong about 20 metres from the stage for Nas playing the entirety of Illmatic along with some other hip-hop tributes he laid out. It was the biggest hip-hop sing along I have ever been apart of. Nas played in to the whole thing. It had been 20 years since this debut album came out. The album came out in what would arguably be considered the golden age of hip-hop. With various producers, including DJ Premier of Gang Starr creating some of the most memorable tracks the genre has seen to date.

So what you sayin’? It’s like the game ain’t the same”

The energy around the stage was immense. Thousands of people creating clouds over the landscape, girls running through the valleys of people with handfuls of £5 jello-shots and lit joints. It appeared everyone there was having a moment with the lyrics, at times giving the impression of reading along with a preacher and he is saying your favourite verse. Eyes were locked on Nas has he would sing and then hold the mic to the crowd who sang along with intense admiration.  Producing and hip-hop may have evolved since this milestone, but the love for hip-hop is alive and well.

I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death
I lay puzzle as I backtrack to earlier times”

Nas – N.Y State of Mind