Nas The Whiskey, Calgary AB / Edmonton Events Centre, Edmonton AB October 3 / October 5

It’s amazing what a difference some 300 kilometres can make. Prairie dogs in Calgary and Edmonton were both elated to see Nas in his first Alberta visits, and the outcomes were polarised. While the Calgary show was poorly organised in a small venue with airtight security, and counterfeit tickets left hundreds shunned outside the door, Nas tore the place down for over an hour with cuts spanning Illmatic to Hip-Hop Is Dead, and also took requests, thanking the crowd for making him drop "Rewind.” In Edmonton, a restless all-ages crowd — all of whom entered with legitimate tickets — made for a nervous performance that was abridged, and less raw in comparison. A local opening act that overstayed their welcome and condescended intelligent fans with matching wardrobes and grills only left the stage when drinks and their own CDs were thrown at them, to which their crew retaliated by throwing stools from the VIP balcony. Thankfully, DJ Kwame, from local radio station the Bounce, calmed the crowd after police intervened. It almost looked like there would be no Nas, but when he arrived, the crowd restructured their savageness through music. Alone with his DJ, it was up to the audience to be Nas’s hypeman. Calgary’s crowd held it down, every lyric spit in unison, so when he paused for breath, there was still momentum. In Edmonton, Nas found his best followers far behind the front rows, and seemed pretty disappointed when they weren’t loud enough to fill in even the most notorious rhymes in "Street Dreams.” Regardless, both cities were more than grateful to have the legend. Nas promised both audiences that if he ruled the world, he would buy a mansion locally, and invite them all for a pool party. By the looks of it, many were willing to postpone outside ambitions, and stick around the prairies until Nas delivers his promise.