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The Best Acts at Coachella Weren't Even on the Bill

Nate Jackson
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Nate Jackson
GZA destroying bros with his lyrics at the Heineken House

Special guests at Coachella are commonplace at this point. It's just something you expect when you set foot on the Polo Fields. But on Saturday night things went to another level; it was a fantastic evening thanks to the folks who weren't on the bill.

It all started with Diddy's cameo with Guy Gerber at the Yuma Tent about an hour before sundown. Okay, we know, the two have that 11:11 album together, so it's not that strange that the Ciroc magnate would show up. But for Diddy to humble himself enough to pop up on a small stage like the Yuma was nice to see, even if you secretly want him to stay the hell away from EDM.

But that was just the beginning...

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Timothy Norris

Beyonce also showed up to support her baby sister Solange at the Outdoor Theater. Yeah, it was crazy to see Bey, of course - all it took to nearly outshine her sister's performance were a couple of synchronized dance moves during "Losing You." But what made it even cooler was that it meant Jay Z was likely lurking around backstage. And there was no way he was gonna let wifey get all the surprise-guest glory.

Our Nancy Drew suspicions were right on the money. We're sure those who stayed until the wee hours to see Nas perform cuts from seminal album Illmatic were quite popular on social media with all their Hova hash-tagging.

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Timothy Norris

And Pharrell. Fucking Pharrell. Whom did he NOT bring on stage with him on Saturday? Nelly, Busta Rhymes, Tyler the Creator, Diplo, Diddy, Gwen Stefani ... at one point we were pretty sure he might have Prince stashed underneath his big brown Arby's hat. 


Given the wiz producer's uncanny ability to make a fan out of anyone with his polished, star-studded disco rap, it was probably the craziest set we saw all night - and it had almost nothing to do with his personal performance, which felt a little lackluster. He basically said as much as he was complaining about the Coachella dust in his lungs. We'll see how he does next week.

But ya know what? Forget all that. The best cameo we saw last night wasn't on a big stage, with a big artist out front. Seeing GZA from three feet away at the Heineken House at 8:30 p.m. -  that was where you needed to be on Saturday.

Most press folks got the notification he was headlining the new indoor lounge area about 15 minutes before he took the stage. Hardly anybody had a clue he'd be following L.A. beat-scene royalty Gas Lamp Killer and Thundercat, who gave some rad performances on their own. But there he was, The Genius - killing it Shoalin style for a 30-minute set that drew heavily from Liquid Swords.

And, of course, he had to go ahead and drop a few verses of "Shimmy Shimmy Ya," an obligatory ode to Ol' Dirty Bastard that felt just right.

Aided by Wu-Tang affiliate Prodigal Sunn, GZA dropped his verses with ridiculous clarity and power that rivaled any time we've ever seen him. Most of the crowd that was there when he started - bros in flip flops - were not even ready to be blessed by his presence.

"Who is this? I just came in here to get a Heineken?" we heard one guy say. "Is this the Gizzle?" Yeah dude, the Gizzle. Go back to drinking your $9 beer now, please.

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