By many accounts, Nas 2020 comeback album Kingâ€™s Disease can be considered a modern-day classic. â€¨â€¨At least, in terms of momentum and accomplishments.
For Nas, a spry 47 years old at the time of its release, had finally accepted the capitalistic spoils earned from a successful celebrity run and begun to resemble JAY-Z with the big money headlines he was consistently creating.
â€¨â€¨But Hollywood was never able to change the Queensbridge kid and he complied his thoughts of Blackness, progressivism and a healthy mix of new and old school and capped a legendary-career-regardless with his first-ever Grammy win just in March.
â€¨â€¨Kingâ€™s Diseaseâ€™s success trickled down back into a Nas omnipresence within current Hip Hop and equally validated its producer Hit-Boy, who had frankly lost his rap game recognizance after parting ways with Kanye West in the mid-00s.
â€¨â€¨Like all great pillars in American culture, Nas and Hit-Boy made the collective decision to order up a sequel and attempted to magnify the projectâ€™s visibility adjacent to Kanye Westâ€™s now failed Donda release date.
â€¨â€¨Without the side-by-side drop date legacy to propel the conversation, Kingâ€™s Disease II is a modest collection of Nas music without any true watershed moments.
â€¨â€¨Ironically, the efforts aimed to trend the album are the ones that hurt the project the most. â€œEPMD 2â€ (an update from the offering heard on Judas & The Black Messiah soundtrack) holds distinction of fusing lyrical legends Erick Sermon and Parrish Making Dollars with Eminem for a fantasy football-esque rap chart, but thatâ€™s pretty much all it does. Slim Shadyâ€™s bottomless flow buries the initial vibe of the track and takes the cohesion with it.
â€¨â€¨â€œDeath Row East,â€ a scenic revisiting of his own involvement in the infamous 1990s East Coast vs. West Coast rap beef, splices together accounts of â€œBoogeyman Suge Knightâ€ and 2Pacâ€™s death atop a wailing mandolin with sick DJ scratches, yet still feels more interesting than entertaining and lacks the woven rhyme schemes of his more lauded storytelling (think â€œLast Real N-gga Aliveâ€).
â€¨â€¨Calculated rhymes such as â€œI canâ€™t let you drive the boat if you get seasick/Draped in all red, she thought I was Whooptyâ€ heard on the equally trendy titled â€œYKTVâ€ (a.k.a. â€œyou know the vibes) signal flares Nas is still present in todayâ€™s Hip Hop lexicon, but the bulk of Kingâ€™s Disease II reveals remnants of his true self: cerebral, wise, boring, reserved.
â€¨â€¨Hit-Boy also doesnâ€™t maximize on the spotlight opportunity, especially since heâ€™s baiting Kanye these days. None of Kingâ€™s Disease IIâ€™s instrumentals warrant a â€œtype beatâ€ Google search and only match Nasâ€™ intensity from mood to mood.
â€¨â€¨The beats do, however, showcase the tenured producerâ€™s range as a studio wiz. â€œBrunch On Sundaysâ€ (with 2021 HipHopDX Rising Star Blxst) somehow manages to capture the sound of champagne bubbles in flute glasses with a pristine sprinkling of piano keys and jazzy bass bombs. The aforementioned â€œYKTVâ€â€™s aggressive boom personifies the type of outside energy its co-stars, trench rappers YG and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, thrive on.
â€¨â€¨On â€œNobody,â€ he spends much of his 25-year reunion with Ms. Lauryn Hill reflecting on a life without the celebrity attached, whisking away in the summer breeze. And general album cuts in â€œ40 Sideâ€ and â€œStore Runâ€ paint Nas as the weathered hustler, reliving glory days opposed to creating the new memories. The former song actually features Nas experimenting with a NY drill flow as Hit-Boy slides a Lil Baby ad-lib as trap confectionary.
â€¨â€¨Despite missing a clear-cut highlight reel, Kingâ€™s Disease II earns its stripes because Nas is still a phenomenal rapper and his talent is ultimately the instrument. Without any frills, bells or polarizing guest appearance, the unassuming â€œCount Me Inâ€ serves as the projectâ€™s most complete record, as the typically elusive Nas opens up on the present day.
â€¨â€¨â€œAinâ€™t worried â€™bout none of them, they bleed how I bleed Suffering from the symptoms of Kingâ€™s Disease/Canâ€™t let the bright lights go to your head I watched my day-ones go to the Feds,â€ he laments, quietly ripping Hit-Boyâ€™s sparse sonic dream.
â€¨â€¨â€œRareâ€ serves as Nasâ€™ most energetic performance, with the rap goat dropping rapid bars with youthful exuberance and overall love for rhyming. The track later unfolds a mafioso-laced breakbeat to let fans know the skill is real.
â€¨â€¨Anchor tracks â€œMy Bibleâ€ and â€œNas Is Goodâ€ drag to the exit door but their core messages also speak to Escoâ€™s current state of mind and also will to his longtime fanbaseâ€™s expectations.
â€¨â€¨Although it could have benefitted from some more enticing reasons to push play, Kingâ€™s Disease II solidifies Nasâ€™ place in a Hip Hop world where even legends sometimes get put out to pasture.
Kings Disease 2 by Nas is the best rap album of the year. What an amazing masterpiece!!ðŸ™â¤
â€” ð–„ð–Š’ð–˜ ð–‹ð–Žð–—ð–˜ð–™ ð–‡ð–”ð–—ð–“ (@NorthMamacita_) August 6, 2021
The second half of “Rare” is how Hit Boy should produce @Nas.
Ya’ll know I’m right.
Let that shit slap.
â€” Big Zo (@Alphonso_Norman) August 11, 2021
Kingâ€™s Disease 2 is not hittin like Kingâ€™s Disease, still a solid album from Nas
â€” Apple Juice Connoisseur (@Mychal89) August 11, 2021
Crazy that Nas made a better album than the last one. King’s Disease 2 is straight fire!!
â€” William with an S (@Lupin_333) August 6, 2021
Bro this Nas album is not what everyone is saying it is
â€” Naija Guy (@NaijaGuy13) August 11, 2021
“Rare” by Nas is actually insane. The whole King’s Disease II album is crazy. Hit-Boy spazzed on the production.
Rappers are not supposed to be this good for this long.
â€” Joshua Turner (@JoshTurnerNJ) August 10, 2021