This year’s Rock The Bells tour featured some of the most legendary names in hip hop playing classic albums live-Blackstar, Erykah Badu, Raekown and Ghostface, and more. Toronto didn’t get the full bill, but last night we got Rock The Bells Lite-Nas playing Illmatic, and Lauryn Hill playing The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, at the Molson Amphitheatre.

The acoustics at the Molson Amphitheatre leave pretty much everything to be desired, but Nas made up for it with a high-energy performance. Taking the stage with AZ,  DJ Premier, and Pete Rock, he delivered an amazing set with genuine enthusiasm.

But no one ever likes to talk about what went well. This morning, all anyone (and by anyone, I mean the internet) could talk about was Lauryn Hill. She was late, she was self-indulgent, her sound was off, she kept harassing her band. And none of these things were strictly UNTRUE, but here’s the thing-she’s still Lauryn Hill, and Lauryn Hill on an off day is still a pretty amazing way to spend a Thursday night. Giving in to the less-than-stellar sound, there was something captivating about Hill’s frenetic energy-she didn’t seem all there, but she still commanded all the attention, a tiny spark on an overcrowded stage. Her set was far from perfect, but her strength and performing power still managed to come through. It’s like when Kanye West was late for Bonnaroo-some people are good enough to get away with anything.

~ Haley Cullingham

Images from Rock The Bells 11 in California courtesy of WireImage