Nas: King's Disease Album Review
Nas is back with his 13th studio release: King’s Disease! Its been 2 weeks since its release on August 21st, and after the first listen, it has already cleansed my palate from the largely forgotten last album NASIR, released 2 years ago. Clocking in at a little over 38mins, this album does not overstay its welcome. The longest song on here is 3:52 What we have here is a comfortable NAS. A 40-something King NAS whose music keeps his focus centered on preventing the titular “king’s disease” that so many of his elders and compatriots have suffered from, such as eating too much, getting old, and fading into obscurity. 27 Summers since Nas’ debut of Illmatic in1994.
Hit-boy produced tracks seem to comfortably fit with Nas’ style, letting Nas do what Nas does best, which is paint vivid pictures of life in Queensbridge and beyond. Thankfully Hit-Boy did not lose this hard drive like he did back in 2012. Reflection would best sum up this album description, as our King spends most of this album dwelling on the past: past loves, past friends\foes, and various street tales. Dreams of living to old age, while avoiding death or incarceration. Nostalgia runs rampant on Blue Benz as he questions the value of maternal items. This is evident on one of the albums standouts, “Car 85” which Former MR. Escobar evokes memories of warm summer nights, calling up your local cab service as the only means of escaping your local neighborhood surroundings. This is way before the days of Uber/ Lyft and their surge pricing apps. NO, these were the days of haggling with the cabbie over a $10 ride that you usually pay $8 for. Full Circle gives us The Firm reunion with all 4 members including a surprise outro from Dr. Dre who executive produced the original album’s flop. (Foxy Brown sounded off, I know she's experiencing hearing issues, but there was something about her verse that sounded distracting.)
What is a post-Kelis divorced NAS album without a relationship gone bad tale? Well, on this album we get 2 songs dedicated to the topics. All Bad enlists the help of Anderson.Paak to tell the story of a love gone bad. “it was all good, til it went all bad”. Nas, sir, we have all been there!! Nothing worse than thinking about the haunting potential of a relationship that might have reversed its course into something grand if only you just hung in there a little longer. Speculation says that this is Nas’ brief and only mention of his brief entanglement with female rap legend, Nicki Minaj, but I’ll let the blogs handle that. The 2nd song Replace Me, adds Big Sean, and Don Toliver chorus reflecting on female lovers who did not appreciate what they had to offer, knowing that replacing their love will be a hard battle.
What does it mean to be black from the media and the governments perspective? Nas provides some clarity on The Definition. And fires back on Ultra-Black giving African Americans the anthem that we did not know that we needed. In fact, since Joe Biden, said that we do not vote for him, then you aint black” I want this to play at his inauguration party. In these uncertain times, lets face it 2020 has not exactly been a banner year to be black in America. While racism is nothing new, it seems that the media gets off on highlighting new injustices faced daily, spotlighting unnecessary police brutality and unlawful harassment, against the backdrop of facing global pandemic infecting African Americans at an alarming rate, 3x as fast as whites. In the 11th hour, near the sunset of the summer, NAS gives us a reason to lift our heads up high, admonishing us to “don’t fold or crack” citing a litany of positive Black pop culture references. Because let’s face it, Black culture is American culture. We are woven into the fabric. It is the opposite of Doja Cat, its Michael Blackson black, and you know there is nothing blacker than that! Fun fact: Blacks started algebra, guess we missed that lesson, huh P.S. 273!?
Nas celebrates black women and mothers’ strength on til the war is won and takes the time to vehemently deny charges of domestic abuse levied against him by ex-wife Kelis. The brief album finishes with a head nodding posse cut, Spicy, featuring ASAP Ferg and Fivio Foreign, who might have felt alienated by all the reminiscing and social consciousness. Nas proves that the once young prince, is royalty that does not need to spend over 60-mins to prove his point. If he keeps making albums like this, this king is sure to remain healthy for a long time.