News Column

Nas, Lauryn Hill Co-bill Is an Uneven Attraction: Review

Nov. 13, 2012

Jim Harrington

Nas and Lauryn Hill.
Nas and Lauryn Hill.

I have major mixed emotions about seeing the co-headlining concert by Nas and Lauryn Hill on Monday at the Fox Theater in Oakland.

On the positive tip, I'm definitely excited about seeing Nas, who is one of the best artists in hip-hop -- and certainly one of the game's finer live acts. The latter was underscored, yet again, when I saw Nas deliver an excellent headlining set during Day Two of the Rock the Bells festival in August at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View.

Plus, Nas is touring in support of what may well be the best album of the year -- "Life is Good." The chance to hear him perform the new material, now that I have had a few more months to digest it, is a huge selling point for me. Of course, his back catalog also rocks.

On the opposite edge of the spectrum is Hill, who has gone to great lengths to establish herself earn as one of the most disappointing performers in the entire music business.

When people ask me to name the worst live show I've ever seen, out of literally thousands to choose from, I never hesitate: Lauryn Hill at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland in 2007, when the star took the stage 2 1/2 hours late and proceeded to deliver such a train wreck of a performance that fans were demanding refunds.

I've seen Hill several times going back to 1999, and more often than not, I've found her to be a dramatic disappointment onstage. Combine that with the fact that we're still waiting for a proper studio follow-up to 1998's landmark "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill," and it's hard to get overly excited about seeing the hip-hop/soul singer at the Fox.

However, hope will bring fans to see Ms. Hill -- hope that Hill will one day return to her former heights, and that they will be there when she does. And I hope that it happens on Monday night. If not, well, Nas should still be worth the price of admission.

Showtime is 8 p.m. The Fox is at 1807 Telegraph Ave. Tickets, $49.50-$79.50, are available at

Source: (c)2012 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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