Nas resides his finest life proper now. The Queensbridge rapper’s trademark shy smirk has been not too long ago changed with a gleaming smile that has appeared increasingly throughout his social media channels, his visibility at an all-time excessive. Current footage of him decked out in an opulent silk brief set, standing on the garden of a lavish chateau, cigar in hand, toasting to the great life, oozes newfound contentment. This coincides with a contemporary burst of creativity, ensuing within the launch of ‘King’s Illness II’, a sequel to final yr’s extremely acclaimed ‘King’s Disease’, which bagged the rapper his first-ever Grammy (for Greatest Rap Album).
Over the course of his virtually 30-year profession, Nas has launched 13 studio information. Solely twice has he launched two within the area of a yr; the outcomes have been a combined bag. However with ‘Kings Illness II’, he has delivered a masterpiece of monolithic measures, finishing arguably the most effective two-volume sequence in hip-hop. On the age of 47, the one they name God’s Son is on the peak of his powers – and he’s having fun with each second of it: “Ice in my veins, I make it look straightforward,” he raps on the album’s luxurious lead single, ‘Uncommon’.
He’s teamed as soon as once more with producer Hit-Boy, and the pair seem to have discovered themselves a collaboration cheat code; they’re armed with a form of chemistry that doesn’t come round all too typically. ‘King’s Illness II’ sees Nas with a fully-charged battery in his again, comfortably manoeuvring his approach by way of a group of soiled breakbeats, sped-up soul samples and cinematic soundscapes. Whether or not it’s the shimmering keys on the introspective ‘Moments’, the dusty groove of ‘Rely Me In’, or the breezy backdrop on ‘Brunch On Sundays’, the King of Queens makes all the pieces look really easy.
Even when Hit-Boy switches up the manufacturing in favour of one thing nearer to up to date trap, Nas isn’t thrown off his axis. On ’40 Facet’, a cautionary story of hometown delight, Nas, an OG, imparts knowledge on the youth (“I can ship n***as a slide/ I’d relatively present them the ropes”), his pep discuss peppered with hazy synths and rapid-fire hi-hats, whereas Future rides shotgun. The transient sonic tour continues on ‘YKTV’, the place Nas – alongside A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie and YG – brags in regards to the many spoils of his opulent way of life over an earsplitting, bottomless bass.
For ‘EPMD 2’, Nas enlists the assistance of Eminem in addition to the observe’s legendary namesake. Whereas it’s not the primary time they’ve labored collectively (Em produced 2002 observe ‘The Cross’), it’s the first time Nas has rapped alongside the actual Slim Shady. An explosive collaboration ensues, though Em, a self-confessed hip-hop nerd, evidently excited on the prospect of sharing a beat with style royalty, begins off slightly shaky, spewing out random bars about Father Christmas and contraception.
After this erratic giddiness subsides, Em finds his rhythm and offers out flowers to a few of rap’s greats and pays tribute to these we’ve misplaced. In direction of the top of his prolonged verse, the beat switches from luminous gloss to large eruption, at which level Em acknowledges his personal mortality: “I hit 50 through textual content / Informed him that I like him ’trigger I don’t even know after I’ma see him subsequent / Tomorrow could possibly be a dying.”
One other standout collaboration sees Nas reunite with Lauryn Hill for a uncommon rap verse on the thought-provoking ‘No one’. The previous Fugees frontwoman – who first collaborated with Nas on the genre-defining 1996 anthem ‘If I Dominated The World (Think about That)’ – is sparse together with her bars lately, however after the lyrical masterclass displayed on this glistening, esoteric gem, she might wish to rethink curbing this a part of her repertoire. “I’m savin’ souls and y’all complainin’ ’bout my lateness / Now it’s unlawful for somebody to stroll in greatness,” Ms. Hill raps, addressing earlier criticisms about her tardiness, stating that she’s extra involved with serving to the folks.
As impeccable as each tracks are, neither stand because the album’s most grandiose second. That accolade goes to ‘Demise Row East’, the place Nas shares a uncooked and really candid account of his emotions concerning the notorious East Coast/West Coast warfare. Recalling his private involvement within the beef and his fallout with the late 2Pac, Nas reveals that he and ‘Pac have been within the means of patching issues up earlier than his homicide in 1996. “Every little thing I do know now, want I knew again then,” he admits, earlier than a soundbite of radio host Ed Lover saying 2Pac’s dying in the course of a Nas present closes the observe, guaranteeing goosebumps for any rap aficionado.
With the burden of the world lastly off his shoulders, Nas seems extra targeted than ever earlier than. Selecting to delight in his success, depend his wins, and mission the identical sort of vitality on the remainder of the world, he makes his stance clear within the closing seconds of the album’s ultimate observe, ‘Nas Is Good’: “Demise to the pessimistic mindstate / Lack of hope low-spirit motherfuckers / Life to kings getting a king’s ransom, residing good-looking.”
Launch date: August 6
Report label: Mass Attraction
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