Nas is a legendary MC from Queens, New York. Recently, Esco’s legacy has been in the air due to the failures of 2018s “NASIR” and 2019s “The Lost Tapes 2”. Today, he has just released his twelfth album, “King’s Disease“. With the highly respected Hit-Boy behind the boards, will this aging MC be able to make another classic, or will he continue to stumble down the never ending pit of mediocrity?
Showing his ability to work with guys new and old while also rapping at a high level makes Nas stand out from his contemporaries. Opening up with the self-titled intro, we see the 46-year-old MC admire his influence and call out misinformation that many believe to be true. What makes this track so special is that the wordplay and craftiness of Nas’s songwriting challenges the listener and their preconceived notions. As the audience’s mind is running, “Blue Benz” continues to raise the intensity as Nas reminisces on his road to fame and if it was really worth it. Easing things up, “Car #85” has a laidback feel due to the memorizing hook from singer Charlie Wilson and the smooth delivery utilized by Nas. “Ultra Black” shows Nas’s philosophical side as he brings up the idea of a binding force that will unite all the outsiders of the word. While being under two minutes, “27 Minutes” shows Nas bragging about his newfound musical independence and entrepreneurial skills. “Replace Me” is a soothing anthem which fuses boom-bap and trap in a way where both Don Tolliver, Big Sean and Nas can shine. With assistance from Lil Durk, Nas delivers a heartfelt speech focusing on his failures with family and woman on “Til The War Is Won”. Despite its depressing content, “All Bad” spruces things up stylistically due to the vibrant feel Anderson .Paak brings. “The Definition” brings things back to the ground as Nas goes an intense exercise focusing on the corruption within our world. “Full Circle” is the Firm reunion we have all wanted, and it doesn’t disappoint as each member delivers a sophisticated and memorable performance. Topping it off, Dr. Dre makes a surprise appearance at the end, which only adds to the experience. “10 Points” steers things back in a political direction as Nas calls out twisted practices of the media, citizens, and leaders. “The Cure” ties everything together as Nas expresses his feelings towards our current world and additionally honors his fallen brothers Kobe Bryant and Nipsey Hussle. The final song and bonus “Spicy”, is a hard-hitting trap banger, which shows Nas turning up with A$AP Ferg and drill sensation Fivio Foreign. Overall, this is the best version of Nas we have seen in nearly a decade.
Sonically, there is a diverse and well put together soundtrack that emphasizes every idea Nas presents. Hit-Boy played to the vibe of each track masterfully which can be seen on the tracklist top to bottom. Cuts like “King’s Disease” and “Blue Benz” use monotone instrumentals, which allow the spotlight to shine on Nas while “Ultra Black” and “Replace Me” contain upbeat and glamorous scores. “Car #85” has the most distinct feel out of all the records as its warping synths, and embedded vocals are intoxicating to soak in. Hit-Boy shows he can even make intense boom-bap beats like “27 Summers” or “Full Circle”. “All Bad” had one of my favorite instrumentals, as Paak’s drumming sets the perfect tone for what him and Nas are about to remorse on. “The Cure” is a one of a kind experience as its vintage horns and sampled instruments make it feel like something from the mid-twentieth century. Overall, Hit-Boy was able to complete and add personality to this already mind boggling LP.
In conclusion, “King’s Disease” is the comeback Nas needed! In every way possible, he stepped up his game, which ultimately enabled him to create a profound record filled with political and personal commentary. I also commend the album for accomplishing all it does in only 38 minutes. With another great release under his belt, Nas has only strengthened his spot amongst the goats of hip hop.