The artist shows no signs of slowing down on his 13th album
There was once a time when Nas claimed New York as his rightful territory. While that time may have come and gone, as hip-hop moves on to new acts and sounds, Nas has been standing his ground for over thirty years.
The title of his latest effort, King’s Disease, refers to gout (the “Disease of Kings”) due to its connection to gluttony, alcohol consumption and the lifestyle of the king. It’s no surprise that Nas can relate to this lifestyle, as he’s been sitting comfortably for quite some time with a net worth of $70 million.
Surrounded by TikTok stars and viral “acts of the hour,” the artist refuses to change for anyone. His last project, 2018’s NASIR, saw him beginning to evolve by collaborating with Kanye West (with whom the album was executive produced by). While it wasn’t a turn for the worst, Kanye’s sound with Nas’ flow didn’t get the critical or commercial reception they were hoping for.
Instead of reverting to the basic formula of what worked before NASIR, Nas took his time with a relatively unknown (at the time of the project’s conception) producer by the name of Hit-Boy. However, rather than stepping outside of his element, he’s begun to allow others in. The extensive list of features (abnormal for the artist) included a shocking amount of the newer, younger generation’s artists.
The album runs at a brisk 38 minutes, a staple of Nas’ last few projects that shoot for quality over quantity. While the album goes by quickly, it doesn’t go by lacking depth. The album as a whole is an introspective look on his career. It doesn’t only examine where he’s been, but also where he’s going. And if the tracklist and features are any hints at the future, it’s safe to say that he’ll be collaborating with the younger generation much more frequently.
While some of Nas’ former, frequent collaborators were satisfying to see on the list (AZ, Foxy Brown, and Brucie B.), rising acts such as Don Toliver, Fivio Foreign and Lil Durk horrified some of Nas’ biggest fans. After listening to the project, it’s evident that these featured artists went outside of their comfort zone and changed their sound to fit into Nas’ world.
Nas has had high hopes for his last few projects, including this one. The goal has been to find a sound that unites both old school fans of his while also inviting the new generation to join them. While this album is certainly his most cohesive project from the last eight years, it’s still far from completing his goal of unification. While it does appease some of his old fans, while also garnering the attention of a portion of the new school collective, it’s distant from a completely satisfying album.
The album is a generally satisfying collection of songs for Nas to add to his public library, despite it not achieving the level of reception that he desired. However, it’s most definitely a step up from his past projects, and only gives hip-hop fans of all generations something to look forward to in his next project.