Nas, DJ Green Lantern: Countdown to ‘Life Is Good’ Album — Final Day
On the fifth and final day of The BoomBox countdown to Nas‘ Life Is Good LP, DJ Green Lantern reveals his experience while on tour with the Queensbridge rapper. He’s been on the road with Nas promoting the new album until very recently and says that the consensus is the same from continent to continent: hip-hop is ready for what the MC has in store.
Green Lantern, a Rochester, N.Y., native, was a fledgling beatsmith when he deejayed his first party years ago. In the early 2000s, he’d become known as one of the best mixtape DJs in hip-hop. It wasn’t long before he moved into mixing on air, securing a place at New York’s lauded hip-hop radio station Hot 97. Currently, he spins on Sirius XM’s Hip Hop Nation and Atlanta’s V103.
When he’s not spinning records on-air, Green Lantern’s tour runs with Nas give him an inside look at how “The Don” creator’s music affects the people. He’s been one of the first to witness the crowd response to Life Is Good’s initial tracks. The BoomBox talks with the DJ about how Nas impacts fans around the world with his personal lyrical stories.
DJ Green Lantern’s Countdown
to Nas’ Life Is Good Album
“This is the fourth year being out with Nas. I started touring with him in ’08, around this time for the Untitled album and since then, we’ve incorporated a lot of band elements in it. We went out with Damien Marley‘s band for a couple of years, and [Nas’] own band and my involvement with the band in just pulling together a real ill live show with breaks and little segments. I think he’s concentrating more on his live showmanship as far as a whole show rather than just going out and rocking, which a lot of people do, like, ‘Man, let’s just go out and rock.’ When he incorporated a band it was like, ‘Wow, you can do so many more things now.’ So he’s taking advantage of that. To me, he’s level-up on everything now.
We’ve been doing ‘Daughters,’ ‘The Don,’ ‘Nasty,’ ‘A Queens Story.’ But specifically ‘The Don’… When we first started doing that one on the promotional tour, we just thought, like, ‘OK, they might know it, ’cause it’s been released,’ but we just felt surprised by how many people actually knew. Like right at the top of the record, the Super Cat vocal sample started and we’d just hear screams and at first it was surprising, just like, ‘Wow.’ Now we’re used to it but it was surprising that that many people really knew it like that. The excitement of the people when hearing the music… It’s just like, he went crazy with the quality… He just really put his personal side on this one.
We need that personal side. We need that, whether people in hip-hop are ready for that or not. I think that they are, obviously, judging from that response to the music. I think that rap needs that to be three-dimensional. We need somebody to come along and be like, ‘Look, this is my situation and it was in public with another public person and I’m gonna speak on it. I’m gonna express myself in a whole compilation of songs and I’m gonna tell my story.’
It is comparable to the Here, My Dear album, dedicated to that part of his life. Hip-hop needs that. A lot of hip-hop is so superficial, we need something that’s three-dimensional, giving people something to latch onto. And the music is really good. Most of the landscape is, ‘Let’s just party and skate through life.’ And when someone comes along and tells his story in a real way, it’s just like, people go crazy for it. I think more artists should… As they see the roll out of this project and the success of it, I was telling him this the other day, ‘I think you’re gonna inspire a whole lot of other artists to what’s successful.’
Great artists can take something that’s going on in their life and channel that energy into music and make the best music because people go through things — that’s just universal. So when people can express themselves and talk about things that they’ve been through, nine times out of 10, they really go to that place inside of them where it’s all going on in that one space. Like, maybe the whole world is talking about them and they don’t say a word, you know what I’m saying. Next thing you know, two years later, that whole thing will get addressed in a song. That’s Nas. And you’ll be blown away by that song.
I’d say that the last city we hit on the European tour, the Open Air Festival in Zurich, Switzerland, 50,000 people. It was Nas, Lauryn Hill, Rick Ross, Yelawolf, A$AP Rocky and Ludacris and Nas headlined. It was literally 50,000 out there. Literally, it was just the response from people for music that’s coming out now [Life Is Good] to music that’s come out 20 years ago. Just the overall response sometimes is just amazing, when you see people that you know are 18 years old and weren’t even born when this song came out. Just in the front row, spitting it word for word back at you. That’s just amazing. “
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