Watch Nas Perform ‘Illmatic’ at the Kennedy Center

Nas brings Illmatic to PBS. Twenty-four years after dropping Illmatic, the hip-hop icon performed his seminal debut album with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center.

The memorable set was part of “Great Performances – Nas Live from the Kennedy Center: Classical Hip-Hop,” which aired Friday (Feb. 2) on PBS. It featured new orchestral takes on classics like “N.Y. State of Mind,” “The World Is Yours,” “Memory Lane (Sittin’ in Da Park),” and “It Ain’t Hard to Tell.”

More than just a performance, the show allowed Nas to describe his upbringing and his rise to prominence in hip-hop. “We’re all here for a purpose,” he said. “I was lucky to find mine. I didn’t come from a privileged family. We just rise. With no help, we can just rise. I needed more than just money, though. I wanted to be heard.”

After performing his legendary “Life’s a Bitch” verse, Nas also celebrated his father, Olu Dara, a jazz musician who is featured on the original recording. Donning a dapper tuxedo and bow tie, Nasty Nas thanked the crowd for their appreciation of the remixes. “Y’all making me high right now,” he said during the set. “I don’t need no weed.”

Nas’ career rolls on. Six years after unleashing his last album Life Is Good, Esco is gearing up to drop the highly-anticipated follow-up this year.

Watch “Great Performances – Nas Live from the Kennedy Center: Classical Hip-Hop” below.