Nas – “King’s Disease III” review

Nas is a 49 year old MC from Queens, New York who happens to be the son of jazz cornetist/guitarist Olu Dara. His first 2 full-lengths illmatic & It Was Written are widely acknowledged as some of the greatest in hip hop history even though I also really enjoy stillmatic, The Lost Tapes, God’s Son & Life is Good. Then there was the Kanye West-produced NASIR & The Lost Tapes II, which I felt like they were fine additions to his catalogue even though the overall consensuses were polarizing. But for almost 3 years now, Nas has been working exclusively with Hit-Boy & both of them are a good fit for each other. King’s Disease earned Esco his first Grammy, but the sequel & Magic would continue to elevate their chemistry to new heights. However, Hit-Boy & my 2nd favorite MC of all-time behind The God Rakim are now looking to end the King’s Disease trilogy with his 15th album.

“Ghetto Reporter” kicks off the album with a piano sample & Nasty Nas talking about evolving from King’s Disease at some point in time whereas “Legit” samples Eddie Cain declaring to be blacker than the new Black Panther movie that just came out today. “Thun” has a more orchestral groove to it representing Queensbridge along with the best line on the entire album. Ring halfway through the verse which is “No beef or rivals, they playin’ “Ether” on TIDAL. Brothers can do anythin’ when they decide to in a Range Rover, dissectin’ bars from “Takeover”. Sometimes I text Hova like “N***a, this ain’t over” laughin’” just before “Michael & Quincy” goes into boom bap turf with a trap switch-up during the last minute comparing him & Hit-Boy to the late Michal Jackson & Quincy Jones respectively.

Continuing from there with “30”, we have Nas over a dramatic trap beat reminding everyone how many summers he’s been doing this shit as well as claiming that the DJ Premier album still might happen & responding to his falling out with Pete Rock leading into the futuristically produced “Hood2Hood” repping a lot of cities from Canarsie to Compton & even Detroit. “Recession Proof” dives into funnier territory talking about feeling like a superhero, but then “Reminisce” blends soul & boom bap together until an amazing Brooklyn drill switch-up at the end admitting that he doesn’t like to look back on the past because what he’s doin’ right now is really lit which I think needed to be said because I’ve seen some bitter & disgruntled heads complaining about Nas working with Hit-Boy over the last couple years for whatever their reasons may be.

“Serious” is less of an interlude & more of a song about serious situations everyone eventually goes through over some harps until “I’m on Fire” returns to the soulful boom bap telling everyone he still has the same flame behind him from the “Hate Me Now” video which is such a hard flex in my opinion. “WTF / SMH” starts off on a trap note talking about riders ever get cancelled until the beat switch into a drumless loop & addressing how everybody’s so quick to turn while “Once a Man, Twice a Child” gives off a more dreamy boom bap vibe basically giving his thoughts on growing old which I needed to hear since I personally became an uncle last Thursday.

Following that, “Get Light” comes through with a jazzy party anthem while the swooning boom bap jam “1st Time” talks about hoping that this is your introduction to him & I really loved the bar at the beginning of the final verse acknowledging that people used to say he was the worst beat picker ever even though I myself never really agreed with it personally. The penultimate track “Beef” finds Nas remarkably personifying rap beefs themselves further reminding everyone how great of a storyteller he is with darker atmosphere to the instrumental while “Don’t Shoot” is powerful 2-parter cautioning not to kill thе messenger. The bonus cut “‘Til My Last Breath” though ends the album is a jazzy trap banger promising to be steppin’ until he’s gone.

Earlier on in the review I mentioned the fact that some people don’t like working with Nas & Hit-Boy, but I genuinely don’t understand how anyone can dislike King’s Disease III because it’s the best of the 4 albums that they’ve done so far. The production is more versatile in sound & God’s Son is still very much rapping his motherfucking ass off on the mic all these decades later.

Score: 4.5/5

@legendswill_never_die on Instagram for the best music reviews weekly

DJ Premier – “Hip Hop 50” review

DJ Premier is a 56 year old producer & DJ from New York City that I think anyone who’s passionate about this culture we call hip hop should be familiar with by considering his lengthy production discography whether it be Gang Starr, PRhyme, Jeru the Damaja, Group Home & many others. He’s rightfully regarded as one of the greatest hip hop producers of all-time & is definitely in the top 5 in my book, so to see that he’s dropping a debut EP of his own with all proceeds going to the Universal Hip Hop Museum that’ll be opening in 2024.

“Lettin’ Off Steam” by Joey Bada$$ is a rock/boom bap infused opener talking about getting the paper whereas “Remy Rap” by Remy Ma & Rapsody takes a funkier turn to boast their lyrical abilities. The song “Beat Breaks” by Nas works in some synthesizers paying tribute to Queensbridge while the penultimate track “Terrible 2’s” by Run the Jewels talks about how they can’t be fucked with over a petrifying boom bap instrumental. “The Root of All Evil” by Lil Wayne & Slick Rick ends the EP on a positive note looking ahead to a promising future.

Didn’t think we’d get a solo effort from the Boom Bap God himself, but I’m happy we did because it’s the best EP of the year right now. The list of guest MCs was incredibly curated & Preem just knocked it out of the park behind the boards. Very excited to hear if he’ll be involved with the 2nd installment to commemorate the 50 year anniversary of our culture next summer.

Score: 4.5/5

Nas – “Magic” review

This is the 15th full-length album from Queens icon Nas. For those who’re living under a rock, his first 2 albums illmatic & It Was Written are widely acknowledged as some of the greatest in hip hop history. I also wanna include stillmatic, The Lost Tapes, God’s Son & Life is Good. Then there was the Kanye West-produced NASIR & The Lost Tapes II, which I felt like they were fine additions to his catalogue even though the overall consensuses were polarizing. But for almost 2 years now, Nas has been working exclusively with Hit-Boy & both of them are a good fit for each other. King’s Disease earned Esco his first Grammy & the sequel that dropped over the summer was more superior in terms of quality, but are finishing off 2021 by dropping Magic.

“Speechless” is an unsettling opener to the whole album talking about getting his weight & safe up whereas “Meet Joe Black” takes things into boom bap territory advising not to fuck with him. “Ugly” incorporates some wavy synth melodies to detail some hardships & to confirm King’s Disease III is indeed in the works, but then “40-16 Building” is pretty much a glorious sequel to “Rare Form” off his last album.

Meanwhile on “Hollywood Gangsta”, we have Nas detailing being on top & surprising listeners with a bit of a quirky groove to the beat leading into the drumless “Wu is for the Children” talking about the special kind of things in life. The song “Wave Gods” with A$AP Rocky finds the 2 on top of an organ & some dusty drums to get charmingly boastful while the penultimate track “The Truth” makes me so happy calling out people on their bluff. “Dedicated” then finishes off the album with an incredible 2-parter about devoting his life to this shit.

Magic in my eyes is on the same caliber as King’s Disease II & only increases my anticipation for the 3rd installment of the series even more. Hit-Boy continues to expand on the production versatility that the predecessor displayed & Esco keeps showing how a late career MC should be spitting.

Score: 4/5

Nas – “King’s Disease II” review

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.

Score: 4/5

Statik Selektah – “The Balancing Act” review

This is the 9th full-length album from Boston producer, DJ & radio personality Statik Selektah. From his output as part of the producer/MC duo 1982 alongside fellow Boston native Termanology to entirely producing projects for the likes of Action Bronson & Paul Wall, this dude has really made his presence known as one of the most consistent & hard-working producers in all of hip hop for over a decade now. Even his 8 solo albums have a chockfull of bangers on them, most notably Extended Play & #WhatGoesAround…. But as the 3 year anniversary of Statik’s last full-length outing 8 approaches in a couple of weeks, he’s joining forces with nas’ Mass Appeal Records to bring you The Balancing Act.

The opener “The Healing” by Black Thought talks about crooked cops over a haunting instrumental whereas the next song “Keep It Moving” by Joey Bada$$ & Nas finds the 2 trading bars back & forth with one another over well-flipped sample of “Walk On By” off of Jonathan Davis’ 2018 solo album Black Labyrinth. The track “Play Around” by Conway the Machine, Killer Mike & 2 Chainz sees the 3 talking about how they’re the real deal over a boom bap beat with some somber keyboards while the song “Hard Living” by Dave East & Method Man finds the 2 talking about what it was like for them growing up in the Big Apple over a melancholic beat.

The track “Time” by Jack Harlow talks about how life’s too short over a mellow instrumental while the song “Watch Me” by Joey Bada$$ talks about being the illest in the city over some keys & live drumming. The track “America is Cancelled” by Jadakiss, Styles P & 1982 addresses corruption in our government over a jazzy instrumental while the song “No Substitute” by Benny the Butcher & Paul Wall talks about pursuing the cash over a boom bap beat with some horns.

The track “Off My Mind” by Fly Anakin & Rome Streetz sees the 2 talking about the trials & tribulations over a soulful instrumental while the song “Welcome to the Game” by Kota the Friend & Marlon Craft gives some advice to those setting their foot in the music industry over a luxurious beat. The track “Soul Custody” by Blu & Evidence finds the 2 getting romantic over a perfect instrumental to get you in the mood while the song “No More” by Lil’ Fame, Rim da Villin & Smoke DZA sees the trio spitting battle bars over some churchy background vocals.

The track “Ralph Laurens” by the late Sean Price & Thirstin Howl III sees the 2 telling the listener to believe the rumors over an operatic instrumental while the song “Balance Beam” by CJ Fly, JFK & Nick Grant finds the 3 talking about being on a tightrope over a boom bap beat with some horns. The penultimate track “Way Up” by TrillStatik & Havoc finds the 2 paying tribute to Pimp C & Prodigy respectively over a mournful instrumental whereas the closer “Immortal” by Bobby Sessions talks about being just that over a quasi-jazzy boom bap beat.

Pretty good way for Statik Selektah to kick off his 2020s output. Couple of performers I could’ve done without, but I really dig how he used more original compositions on here rather than sampling & it does a good job at executing a concept documenting the times we’re currently in.

Score: 3.5/5

Nas – “King’s Disease” review

This is the 12th full-length album from Queensbridge icon Nas. A man who really doesn’t need an introduction at this point because of the fact that his first 2 albums illmatic & It Was Written are widely acknowledged as some of the greatest in hip hop history. Other high points in Escobar’s discography include stillmatic, The Lost Tapes, God’s Son & Life is Good. Then after a 6-year hiatus, Nas returned in 2018 with the Kanye West-produced NASIR & then with The Lost Tapes II last summer. Both which received polarizing responses, but I felt like they were fine additions to his catalogue. However after leaving Def Jam Recordings & to celebrate his newfound independence, Nas is teaming up with California producer Hit-Boy for King’s Disease.

Things start off with the title track, where Nas talks about how he’s gracefully aging over an angelic beat. The next song “Blue Benz” ponders the value & worth of the stuff we buy over a lavish while the track “Car #85” fondly reminisces on his younger days over a calming boom bap beat. The song “Ultra Black” is a full blown Black Lives Matter theme with an instrumental kin to Life is Good & even though I appreciate the call for more black CEOs on the track “27 Summers”, it just sounds unfinished to me.

The song “Replace Me” with Big Sean sees the 2 getting flirtatious over a lush beat while the track “‘Til the War is Won” with Lil Durk finds both of them talking about single mothers over an atmospheric instrumental. The song “All Bad” with Anderson .Paak sees the 2 talking about their significant others doing them dirty over a piano instrumental with a funky ass rhythm to it while “The Definition” dives into the meaning of the album’s title & I love the uplifting feel to the production.

The track “Full Circle” is an immaculate Firm reunion down to the eargasmic beat & the Dr. Dre outro while the song “10 Points” talks about the meaning of being a king over a jazzy beat & the drums just hit so hard, that they’re bound to blow some speakers out. “The Cure” has the most dynamic instrumental of the entire album as Nas pays tribute to Kobe Bryant & Nipsey Hu$$le, but then the closer “Spicy” with A$AP Ferg & Fivio Foreign finds the 3 bragging over a trap beat that has a bit of a luxurious feel to it.

Not only is this better than the last 2 albums Nas has put out, but I’ll even go as far to say that this is honestly what the 2008 untitled album should’ve been. Nas’ gets on his pro-black shit which is perfect given everything that’s been going on this year & Hit-Boy nails it behind on the boards.

Score: 4/5

Dave East – “Survival” review

Dave East is a 31 year old rapper from Harlem, New York who first caught my attention as a part of the 2016 XXL Freshman Class. This earned him a contract with Mass Appeal Records/Def Jam Recordings & now after 3 years of mixtapes leading up, Dave is finally fulfilling fans’ hopes for his full-length debut.

The opener “They Wanna Kill You” talks about being glad that he never got shelved over a bland Swizz Beatz instrumental then the next song “Penthouse” talks about making it over an uneventful beat. The track “Godfather IV” with Nas sees the 2 trading verses over a classy DJ Green Lantern instrumental while the song “Need a Sign” talks about people acting cool with him now that Dave’s famous over a somber instrumental from araabMUZIK.

The track “On My Way 2 School” reflects on his time in school over a moody instrumental while the song “17” looks back at his adolescence over a woozy trap beat from Timbaland. The track “Mama I Made It” needs no further explanation over an orchestral instrumental while the song “OG” with Rick Ross gets sensual over a luxurious instrumental.

The track “What’s Goin’ On?” with Fabolous sees the 2 spitting charismatic bars over a synth-funk instrumental while the song “Baby” talks about his ride or die woman over a soul sample-inflicted trap beat. The track “Alone” is a trite reiteration of JoDeCi’s “Feenin’” while the song “Everyday” with Gunna sees the 2 talking about their new lifestyles over a dime a dozen trap beat.

The track “Devil Eyes” with E-40 & Mozzy sees the 3 talks about the life in the streets over a grim instrumental while the song “Night Shift” with Lil Baby sees the 2 flexing over a vibrant Murda Beatz instrumental. The track “Wanna Be a G” with Max B finds the 2 talking about a kid who wants to gangbang over slow yet rhythmic instrumental while the song “Me & Mines” talks a homie of his over a jazzy beat.

The track “Daddy Knows” is a touching tribute to his daughter Kairi with a neo-soul flavored instrumental while the song “What You Mad At?” finds Dave angrily going at his haters over a churchy sample that later switches up into a tense boom bap beat. The penultimate track “On Sight” is a decent club banger & then the closer “The Marathon Continues” of course pays tribute to Nipsey Hu$$le over a boom bap beat with some keys.

As much as I love Dave, this was just decent. He’s definitely still a great lyricist, but it’s longer than it needed to be & a bit too focus-grouped for me. Nonetheless, he’s earned the right to make it as far as he has & I hope the album’s gonna do well on the charts.

Score: 2.5/5

Black Milk – “DiVE” review

Black Milk is a 35 year old rapper, songwriter & producer from Detroit, Michigan that came up as a member of the B.R. Gunna production trio. He eventually went solo in 2005 with Sound of the City, which was followed up in 2007 with Popular Demand. The following year, he would dabble with electronic music on Tronic & would later start incorporating live instrumentation on Album of the Year in 2010. His next album No Poison No Paradise eventually became Black Milk’s darkest work yet & it would see a solid sequel If There’s a Hell Below the year after. We saw a comeback form him last year with the politically charged FEVER & a little over a year later, Black Milk’s delivering a sequel with his 4th EP.

It all starts with “Save Yourself”, where Black Milk talks about friendship over a mellow beat. The next song “Black NASA” talks about self-empowerment over an atmospheric beat while the track “If U Say” talks about staying true to yourself over a meditative beat. The song “Relate (Want 2 Know)” with sees Black Milk & his younger brother Mahd talking about depression over a somber instrumental while the track “Blame” gets romantic over a smooth instrumental.

The song “Swimm” is a meditative cut based around the idiom “sink or swim” while the track right after is an Flying Lotus influenced instrumental piece. The song “Don’t Say” talks about fake love over a druggy beat while the track “Out Loud” serves as a psychedelic instrumental interlude. The penultimate track “Tyme” talks about just that over a glitchy beat & then the EP finishes with the synth heavy “Now Begin” instrumental piece.

While only 35 minutes long, I think it’s a fantastic as FEVER. The lyrics are just as smart as the predecessor & the production is equally soothing.

Score: 4/5

Nas – “The Lost Tapes II” review

Nas. What can be said now about the renown Queensbridge, New York MC that hasn’t been said already? From his first 2 studio albums illmatic & It Was Written to The Lost Tapes & Life is Good, the man has really cemented himself as one of the greatest spitters in all of hip hop. He is fresh off his overhated Kanye West produced comeback NASIR last summer & now, he’s back with the sequel to his iconic rarities compilation.

The comp starts off with “No Bad Energy”, which is of course a positivity anthem with a Swizz Beatz instrumental with some beautiful background vocals. The next track “Vernon Family” talks about being rich over a funky instrumental from Pharrell & despite the decent braggadocio on “Jarreau of Rap”, the jazzy instrumental is absolutely HIDEOUS! The track “Lost” proclaims himself as a prophet over a lavish boom bap beat from Statik Selektah while the song “Tanasia” talks about a woman over this orchestral RZA beat.

The track “Royalty” is a mediocre dedication to this young queen over a decent Hit-Boy beat while the song “Who Are You?” brags over some keyboards. The track “Adult Film” needs no further explanation & the piano instrumental from Swizz Beatz is pretty while the song “War Against Love” is an ode to Africa with a relaxing instrumental.

The track “The Art of It” talks about smoking weed over a funky boom bap beat from Pete Rock while the song “Highly Flavored” talks about his fate & the sample that RZA uses is very creative. The track “Queens Wolf” talks about his evolution over a DJ Toomp instrumental with some prominent keyboards & strings while the song “It Never Ends” talks about ongoing violence in the hood over an ominous piano instrumental from The Alchemist.

The track “You Mean the World to Me” is a corny story about a woman that leaves her partner just to be with Nasir over a Kanye instrumental that samples “Don’t It Make You Feel Good?” by Leroy Hudson while the penultimate song “Queensbridge Politics” pays tribute to Prodigy over a boom bap beat from Pete Rock with some dark piano keys. The album then finishes with Beautiful Life”, where Nas addresses Kelis’ slander towards him over a luxurious No I.D. instrumental.

Been a long time waiting on this album & at the end, I think it’s pretty dope. The production is better than half of the albums that they were originally made for & Nas’ pen game overall is a step up from NASIR.

Score: 4/5

Wu-Tang Clan – “Of Mics & Men” soundtrack review

The Wu-Tang Clan. What can be said now about the iconic New York hip hop outfit that hasn’t been said already? From their iconic first 2 albums Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) & Wu-Tang Forever to the countless classic solo debuts like Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… & Supreme Clientele, they’ve always been rightfully regarded as the greatest hip hop outfit of all-time. Last time we heard from them collectively in an album capacity was in 2014 with A Better Tomorrow & with a SHOWTIME documentary being recently released, they’re coming together with the help of Nas’ Mass Appeal Records to deliver the soundtrack for it.

The soundtrack kicks off with “On That Shit Again”, where Ghostface Killah & RZA sound vengeful over a piano & some drums. The next song “Seen a Lot of Things” with Ghost & Raekwon pretty much speaks for itself over a prominent electric guitar & after the “Project Kids” skit, we go into the RZA solo cut “Do the Same as My Brother Do”. Where the Abbott kicks some knowledge over a punchy yet orchestral beat. After the “Yo is you Cheo?” skit & before the “1 Rhyme” outro, the final song of the EP is the title track. Where RZA gets with Cappadonna & Masta Killa boast over some prominent drums.

As much as I loved the documentary, this was a decent soundtrack. Most of the performances are fantastic don’t get me wrong, but it sounds like the Clan could’ve fully fleshed it out.

Score: 3/5