Image courtesy Nas and Mass Appeal Records.

Music of the Moment

The long awaited return of God's son, Nas.
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The long awaited return of God’s son, Nas.

Regarded unanimously as one of the greatest rappers of all time and by many as having created the best hip-hop album to date with his 1994 debut, “Illmatic,” Nas has returned at the age of 46 with his studio album, “King’s Disease.”

More than eight years since his last full-length album, “Life is Good,” Nas has been more active than usual in the last few years. In June 2018, Nas released his seven-track “NASIR” album, executive produced by Kanye West, then followed it up with “The Lost Tapes 2” compilation album in July of 2019.

To set the tone for his new album, Nas released the lead single, “Ultra Black,” boasting the beauty of black life, a theme which is felt throughout the album and heavily featured on songs like “27 Summers,” “10 Points,” and the title track. In these songs, Nas lays down the definition of a true king: someone who is willing to work their way to the top, leave their baggage behind them and give back opportunities and knowledge to their people. In other words, a leader not a ruler.

Produced entirely by Hit-Boy, with occasional assists from other producers, “King’s Disease” features a mixture of old school beats on songs like “Full Circle” and “Car #85” and more modern instrumentals on tracks like “Til the War is Won” and “Spicy,” a New York anthem featuring hometown rappers Fivio Foreign and A$AP Ferg. To compliment the tone of the tracks, Nas recruits features for over half the songs on the album, including unlikely appearances from Travis Scott’s new artist Don Toliver and Big Sean on the track “Replace Me.” Nas also reunites his old group, The Firm, to please fans of the old-school, with nearly four minutes of uninterrupted bars, on the track “Full Circle.” The features that stand out the most, however, both in terms of their quality and the surprise of hearing their voice alongside Nas on a song are Lil Durk with “Till the War is Won” and Anderson.Paak with “All Bad.”

As Nas fans have come to expect, he delivers more of the signature story-telling style that caused hip-hop to fall in love with his music. He brings you into his world like no one else can with the songs “Blue Benz” and most especially “Car #85,” as Nas reminisces on life in the hood. Forever a part of him, mentions or allusions to the hood appear on the majority of the album, most powerfully on the track “Till the War is Over.” In this song Nas expresses his sympathies for single mothers and especially those who’ve had to bury a child, while Lil Durk provides the perspective of one of the children caught up in the streets.

Following the longest break between proper full-length albums in his career, Nas lays all his cards on the table, dedicating entire tracks on “King’s Disease” to addressing the ugly, prejudiced state of the world and reflecting back on his 27 summers in the game with “The Definition” and “The Cure.”

Around 7,500 people in the world can be considered one in a million with “King’s Disease,” Nas proves once again that he’s one of a kind.

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