Backed by DJ Green Lantern and the band Z, Nas' taut, more-than-25-song set drew heavily on new material and very early material. The harder messages in songs like "Represent" and "Life's a Bitch" provided stark contrast with newer material like "Daughters," about his own child, and "Cherry Wine," a sweet, heady number recorded with Amy Winehouse and performed Wednesday night at the Electric Factory with a sample of the late singer. Curiously, when Nas performed "If I Ruled the World," which on his second album featured Hill, it was Z's Eddie Cole, the great-nephew of Nat "King" Cole, who sang Hill's part.
After an hour's intermission, Hill, 37, a former member of the Fugees who's known for her long stretches of reclusion, took the stage with a 10-piece band. Following an abridged version of the Fugees' classic cover of "Killing Me Softly," Hill and company raced through a set of solo and Fugees favorites like "Everything Is Everything," "Lost Ones" and "Fu-gee-la."
"Black Rage," Hill's only new song of the evening, is a pointed if slightly awkward treatise on the state of black America, framed as it is on The Sound of Music's "My Favorite Things." Hill and her band performed the entire song, then Hill spoke the lyrics before segueing back into another accompanied rendition.
While Nas' delivery earlier was crisp and deft, Hill seemed to be racing herself all night and occasionally at odds with her band, resulting in what at times was a huge, energetic sound, and at others an auditory jumble.