Nas is a 50 year old MC from Queensbridge, New York known for being the son of jazz cornetist/guitarist Olu Dara as well as his breakout debut illmatic & the equally classic sophomore effort It Was Written going on to be widely acknowledged as some of the greatest albums in hip hop history. I also 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 the last 3 years, Nas has been working exclusively with Hit-Boy since the COVID-19 pandemic & both of them are a good fit for each other. King’s Disease earned Esco his first Grammy, but the sequel as well as Magic & the conclusion to the King’s Disease trilogy each took their chemistry to new heights. But coming off the incredibly solid Magic 2 over the summer, Nas is celebrating his born day by making his 17th album the final installment of the Magic trilogy & the last in his historic 3-year run with Hit-Boy behind the boards.
To open things up, “Fever” hops on top of a sample-based boom bap instrumental by declaring this to be prophecy & that he’s been fly for half a whole century by now whereas “TSK” works in some more kicks & snares with a gloomier loop talking about trying to stay humble yet he can take it back to Nasty if he wants to. “Superhero Status” moves forward with the art of sampling & keeps it boom bap so he can discuss how the way it’s goin’ down is simply a shame, but then “I Love This Feeling” goes for a jazzier yet soulful approach talking about outclassing people.
“No Tears” keeps it rolling by pointing out that it’s hard to find genuine lover over a tension-building beat prior to Lil Wayne coming into the picture for “Never Die” hoping over a soul-inflicted boom bap instrumental talking about both of their legacies in the culture. “Pretty Young Girl” mixes some horns with kicks & snares talking about a queen that has entered his life even though it might be the weakest cut on the album personally just before “Based on True Events” shoots for a triumphant boom bap vibe so Nas can get on his private investigator shit.
The sequel to “Based on True Events” weaves a spacious backdrop in the fold on top of kicks & snares yet again popping someone at the place of a transaction while “Sitting with My Thoughts” dives headfirst into trap territory talking about bouncing back after every loss. “Blue Bentley” encourages you to say that his life ain’t lit over a bombastic instrumental with some hi-hats while “JoDeCi Member” returns to the boom bap telling anyone to try him.
The song “Speechless, Pt. 2” conceptually picks up where the first “Speechless” left off almost 2 years back accompanied by a flute-tinged beat making it clear that you can redo the voice, but you can never read his mind while the penultimate track “Japanese Soul Bar” is a 2-parter with a woozy kickstart & a luxurious switch-up drinking scotch in a bar until the daybreak prior to the drumless “1-800-Nas&Hit” ending an era by comparing all both trilogies to that of a greatest hits collection.
I’m sure Nas is gonna take a year off to prepare for the next chapter of his career, but to say it’s been exciting to hear his chemistry with Hit-Boy evolving from the first King’s Disease to literally every album they’ve done together would be an understatement & this could very well be my 2nd favorite installment of the Magic trilogy behind the one that started it all. The production’s more soulful in comparison to the last 5 LPs they’ve done in the last 3 years & the lyricism hits harder than the predecessor did earlier this summer.