Legendary rapper Nas will appear at Upbeat Academy's benefit on August 24, 2019. Photo courtesy of @nas / Instagram

CANCELLED: Hip-Hop icon Nas to perform at Upbeat Academy benefit

Nas’ scheduled appearance at Upbeat Academy Foundation’s anniversary benefit concert on August 24 has been cancelled due to “unforeseen circumstances.” The event has not been rescheduled as of August 15, 2019.

Upbeat Academy Foundation, the New Orleans non-profit organization dedicated to providing free after-school music education program for middle- and high-school students, has announced that multiple Grammy-nominated rapper and hip-hop icon Nas will appear at its 5th anniversary benefit concert.

Taking place Saturday, August 24, Upbeat Academy’s benefit concert will provide the city with an opportunity to support its endeavors and get up close and personal with one of rap music’s most venerated names. Nas, whose 1994 solo debut Illmatic is considered by many to be the most exceptional hip-hop album of all time, has had one of the most successful and consistent careers in hip-hop. Earlier this month, he announced the release date for the much-anticipated Lost Tapes II, an announcement met with a level of fervor reflecting his decades-long reign as one of rap music’s most prolific lyricists.

Nas’ appearance at the benefit for Upbeat Academy, which focuses on hip-hop and dance music production and performance, is big news for hip-hop fans in the city – not to mention Academy students. Plus, Nas (born Nasir Jones) is the son of jazz musician Olu Dara, whose 2001 album Neighborhoods features Dr. John.

“We formed Upbeat Academy as a way to commemorate our friend and give back to the community through a music education that both recognizes New Orleans’ influence on hip-hop culture but also provides an alternative option for kids who feel that the more traditional brass programs aren’t for them,” said Reeves Price, VP Operations of Winter Circle Productions and Board Member of Upbeat Academy.  “This benefit with Nas, who is on the Mount Rushmore of hip-hop, is the ultimate celebration of what Upbeat and its student-artists have accomplished in five years.”

Under the tutelage of Upbeat Academy Director Matthew Zarba, student-artists will test out elements of a “STEAM” curriculum to “increase students understanding of science, technology, engineering and math incorporated into the arts to enhance their performance in their traditional school environment and prepare them for various employment positions,” according to a press release. In addition, the Academy’s new initiatives include opening satellite programs at Travis Hill School for incarcerated youth, the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights, and Covenant House for homeless and runaway youth.

As Zarba said, “The success of our student-artists, from graduating from NOCCA and SCAD to crushing it on the BUKU stage, has been amazing,” says Zarba. “The next step is implementing more workforce technical skills into the lesson plans and taking the studio on the road to local deserving youth unable to attend the program at our studio.”

Upbeat Academy Foundation’s August 24 benefit takes place at the Joy Theater, where Nas will perform a live concert. Additionally, VIP packages include a meet and greet with him, plus signed Illmatic vinyl, balcony seating and Upbeat Academy merchandise.



Proceeds from the benefit, as well as money raised in an on-site silent auction and customer charity, will directly benefit the student-artists of Upbeat Academy. Doors open at 7 p.m.


General admission tickets and VIP packages will go on sale this Thursday, July 18, at 10 a.m. local time. Tickets can be purchased here.