Nas is not a contender for the throne in “King’s Disease II”

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Posted on August 09, 2021

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Accomplished and respected enough to kick and shoot cigars until Hall of Fame roll call, Nasir Jones instead slammed the accelerator creatively. It is perhaps because the pandemic has chained the artists on tour in their home studios. Maybe that’s because the master of ceremonies stumbled upon a platinum producer (Hit-Boy) that he clicks easily like Duplo. Or maybe, like many of us nearing 50 than 40, he just feels comfortable in his own skin, with his own thoughts.

Whatever the reason, for the first time since his run to fame in the late ’90s when he hit the big screen (Stomach) and recorded as a demon, Nas released two albums in less than 12 months. But unlike I am… and Nastradamus (both stuck in 1999), there is a level of consistency and focus on the 2020 Grammy Awards King’s disease and fresh spanking King’s disease II which speaks of an adult man at peace with the creation of rap records for adult men.

The chipped-tooth kid who “went to hell for taking Jesus” and the rappers run over by monkeys out of the ring in 1994 is no longer taking the world by storm. Now he’s sipping bottomless Bellinis and surveying the scenery from a penthouse, taking stock of his heritage and calorie intake. The blunt ashes were replaced with pinot residue. Yet even on album number 14, the pen set remains sharp. So during KD2Dad’s crankiest raps – “miles from my squad, I’ve worked hard on my heart” and “the chef knows how to cook without salt and fat” – feels a million miles from Illmatic, Nas continues to report live from his perch. After three decades of relevant recordings, the child shaped by these Queensbridge projects can simply afford a better one.

Wearing Hit-Boy’s crisp, soulful bounce like a comfy dress, Nas achieved a sense of contentment and thoughtfulness. This leads to a whole rap group about enjoying “Brunch on Sundays,” of course, but it also gives Nas the clarity to sift through his 2Pac beef and a silent reconciliation with precision (the excellent “Death Row East “) and the freedom to share the mic with a variety of impactful personalities, without fear of them robbing it of its shine. “My whole career I’ve moved away from feature films / But I thought it was the perfect time to welcome new leaders,” says Nas. Listeners win.

Don Tolliver and Lil Baby add flourishes to “The Pressure” and “40 Side”, respectively. A Boogie wit da Hoodie and YG help form an unusual but effective trio on “YKTV”. However, the dizzying heights of the LP reunite Nas with heroes of the golden age. “EPMD 2”, the continuation of Nas’ contribution to the Judas and the Black Messiah soundtrack, invites the titular duo and Eminem to take the tour. Although Em produced for Nas in 2002 (“The Cross”), the two titans never shared the same microphone. Eminem, who still treats hip-hop like a sport, cleans up the bats on “EPMD 2,” and it shows Nas’s confidence that he lets Eminem steal the show.

Ditto Ms. Lauryn Hill on the superb “Nobody”, one of the LP’s most convincing concept pieces. On the track, a melancholy Nas dreams of escaping fame and expectations. He sympathizes with Dave Chappelle’s bolt to Africa, understanding the appeal of living “a place to be nobody”. Next, Nas’ frequent touring mate and collaborator on “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)” blessed the track with a rare and scorching rap verse: “I save souls, and you all are complaining about being late / Now it is illegal for someone to walk in greatness, ”Ms. Hill said.

The momentum of King’s disease IIThe possible first half causes a certain delay to the finish line, but whether it is inspired singles (“Rare”), new collaborations, new ideas or one-liners adorned with jewelry (“How do you expect to get love if you don’t show any?”), King Nas again reminds him that he is not a contender for the throne. Wild ambition has just evolved into calculated wisdom. Or, as our host puts it, “Everything I know now, I wish I knew then.” (Mass call)


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