If you know a single thing about hip hop, then you should know who Nas is. His first 2 albums illmatic & It Was Written are widely acknowledged as some of the greatest in hip hop history, but I wanna remind everyone that those aren’t the only 2 good albums he’s ever made. I also highly enjoyed stillmatic, The Lost Tapes, God’s Son & Life is Good. Then there was the Kanye West-produced NASIR & The Lost Tapes II, both which received polarizing responses even though I felt like they were fine additions to his catalogue. Then came the Hit-Boy-produced King’s Disease last summer, which I maintain is what the untitled album should’ve been. However after winning his first Grammy back in March, the pair are reuniting for Nas’ 14th full-length album.
“The Pressure” is an airy boom bap opener saying he has to inspire people like he hasn’t already whereas “Death Row East” recalls his run-ins with Suge & the instrumental has a bit of a Middle Eastern flare to it. “40 Side” goes into more trap territory recalling the place where he saw it all while “EPMD 2” serves as a sequel to “EPMD” off [the Judas & the Black Messiah soundtrack], except Eminem & EPMD themselves actually pop up.
Meanwhile on “Rare”, we go back into boom bap turf saying he’s in the zone just before he & A Boogie wit da Hoodie talk about getting places poppin’ off when they pop up on the trap banger “YKTV”. The soul sample “Store Run” works in is sweet as Nas pays homage to those we’ve lost in the last 8 months leading into the nostalgic “Moments”.
“Nobody” has a bit of a jazzy feel in the production with him & Lauryn Hill about a place that you wouldn’t know problems whereas “No Phony Love” is a mediocre sex cut if you couldn’t tell by the title. “Brunch on Sunday’s” works in some keyboard melodies getting in his Esco bag whereas “Count Me In” drearily exposes who the fake really are.
The song “Composure” with Hit-Boy himself finds the 2 jumping on top of a jazzy beat talking about them raising the totem while the penultimate track “My Bible” gets spiritual from the lyrics to the gospel-tinged instrumental. Lastly, the closer “Nas is Good” brings back another soul sample to lyrically annihilate everything in his path.
I was a bit worried about this going into it because sequel albums usually don’t live up to the hype of the predecessor, but that is NOT the case for King’s Disease II. Hit-Boy shows his versatility as a producer, Nas sounds more sharper lyrically & it doesn’t seem like a bunch of leftovers from previous sessions.