What has Nasty Nas, Nasir Jones served up his loyal yet oft-unfulfilled fanbase in 2020? ‘King’s Disease‘ is the latest joint from the Illmatic emcee and while we had already been privy to the album art, track listing and even the first single ‘Ultra Black‘ – no one really knew what to expect from the Nas x Hit Boy collaboration. However, now that the album has hit the headphones numerous times, we gotta break it down for the fans and for the culture.
The spectrum of speculation has ranged from ‘It’ll be trash’ to ‘I can see this being one of his best releases ever’ and it both pleases and pains me to say that both ends of the measure are correct.
Let’s start with production. Nas is going to cop shitloads (an official measurement) of hate for using Hit Boy and not picking up the phone to a top tier producer to get that Preemo, Pete Rock sound we’ve all been dying to revisit. Some of it’s warranted as Hit (and miss) Boy does a solid job overall, but still can’t knock the soundtrack out of the park. It’s not as bad as it could have been, but it really only peaks on certain tracks such as the title track ‘King’s Disease‘, ‘Blue Benz‘, the first single ‘Ultra Black‘ and a few others.
Now, let’s hit up the features. The Firm reunion was solid but not spectacular, the Anderson Paak feature worked, but overall, a lot of the features just make us miss AZ, Nature etc. Whoever though Lil Durk belonged on a Nas song……. it’s such a misstep that it actually made me forget at first, that the album started so strongly. The tracks where Nas is left to his own devices, far outshine the collabs – and that’s just being real. To hold your own on a mic with Nas, you gotta be special – and none of these were memorable, let alone special.
But again, it’s not all doom and gloom. The first five joints are really good, and then there are some standout moments in the back end of the album as well, but it isn’t the cohesive, well delivered project I wanted. I didn’t even want a damn classic at this point, just something to arm myself with when arguing with millennial’s online. I got some decent fodder, but could have done with more.
SO what does all this mean. It means that this album is about a 7.5 / 10. It’s not trash, but it’s not top tier either. Nas can still rock a mic, he still has that iconic voice and flow that tells stories like few can, but a well-rounded project it is not. On a scale of Nastradamus to Illmatic it sits around the ‘Life is Good’ mark.
Bangers: Ultra Black, Blue Benz, Full Circle, King’s Disease….
Score: 7.5 / 10. See above.