Nas Brings Out Lauryn Hill For Star-Studded Hip-Hop 50 Celebration At Yankee Stadium

The duo performed their 1996 collaborative single, “If I Ruled The World (Imagine That).”

Hip-Hop celebrated its 50th birthday on Friday (August 11), the same day in 1973 DJ Kool Herc and his sister Cindy Campbell threw their iconic Back to School Jam at 1520 Sedgwick in the Bronx. A massive lineup of artists—both foundational and representing the future—hit the Yankee Stadium stage Friday night for more than 40,000 people. Presented by Live Nation, Mass Appeal and the New York Yankees, the event boasted performances by the Sugarhill Gang, Kurtis Blow, Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Ice Cube, Fat Joe and dozens of others.

Nas, who co-founded Mass Appeal with label head Peter Bittenbender in 1996, was among the scheduled headliners. As the concert crossed the six-hour mark, the Queensbridge native descended on the historic stadium with live renditions of some of his biggest hits, including “One Mic” and “Shoot ‘Em Up.” But it was his performance of “If I Ruled The World (Imagine That)” from his 1996 album, It Was Written, that had the audience completely entranced. Dressed in a fluffy pink blazer, beaded braids, a blue Yankees hat and giant platform heels, Lauryn Hill stepped on stage to an unsuspecting  crowd to perform alongside Nas. After finishing “If I Ruled The World,” she went into Fugees’ “Ready or Not” and “Killing Me Softly” as well as her own solo single “Doo Wop (That Thing).”

The two MCs shared a hug before Hill exited the stage, a symbol of their 30-year friendship. “If I Ruled The World” featuring Lauryn Hill marked Hill’s first musical appearance outside of the Fugees. The single reached No. 53 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, while also peaking in the Top 20 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart. It was later nominated for a 1997 Grammy Award in the Best Rap Solo Performance category.

Nas brought Hill out of semi-retirement again for the King’s Disease II single “Nobody,” another track that showed off the duo’s musical chemistry.  As for Yankee Stadium, Run-DMC closed out the exhaustive event for what they billed as “The Ninth Inning…The Walk Off,” their final performance as duo. The entire concert is available for viewing above.