Nas, Lauryn Hill electrify Berkeley

Louis LaVenture,

The Berkeley Greek Theater was the backdrop for co-headliners Nas and Lauryn Hill on Friday.

It was the perfect venue for hip-hop and R&B legends.

There could not have been a better venue for the show. If you aren’t familiar with the Greek Theater, it emulates the Colosseum in Rome, a place that is associated with Greek royalty.

It was fitting that musical royalty of sorts graced the stage in front of a sold out crowd of 8,500 plus people. The culmination of the concert happened during Lauryn Hill’s set when she brought out Nas and the two performed their multi-platinum 1996 hit “If I Ruled The World” off Nas’s “It Was Written” album. The crowd erupted towards the end of the last verse of the song and sang the entire final chorus as Hill finished her two-hour performance.

Hill ended the night with one of her most iconic songs, “Doo Wop (That Thing)” from the 1998 multi-platinum selling album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” which is her only solo recording to date.

Hill has been criticized in recent years by several music critics from The New York Post and the Los Angeles Times for her lack of new music and performances that were more reggae than R&B. However, Hill composed all of her hits with a live band, including some of the recordings she made with the group The Fugees from 1994 to 1996 that included “Ready or Not” and “Killing Me Softly.”

Oakland native and singer Kehlani was scheduled to open the show, however, she pulled out at the last minute due to illness. She was replaced by Bob Marley’s nephew and Ziggy Marley’s son Bambaata Marley and London-based female rapper Little Simz.

Little Simz got the crowd going with several strong baselines and lyrics that included songs “Dead Body” and “God Bless Mary,” he latter of which she dedicated to her neighbor Mary, whom she said dealt with her playing music at high volumes all hours of the night and day.

Another Planet Entertainment put on the show in association with the Greek Theater, whose next event isn’t scheduled until April 7, 2017 when singer Regina Spektor’s 2017 tour will make its stop in Berkeley.