Release Date: Jun 15, 2018
Record label: G.O.O.D.
Nas has a curse, and that curse's name is Illmatic. Having released one of the best rap debuts of all time 24 years ago, each of his subsequent releases have been compared to it and been found wanting. With Nasir, the sample-based production sometimes brings to mind Illmatic producers DJ Premier and Pete Rock, but elements like the angry Puff Daddy ad libs on Not For Radio and the smooth R&B stylings of Tony Williams on Bonjour immediately remove the album from that introspective, boom-bap world.
There are great rappers who excel with their God-given talent. And then there's Nas. Ones who work tirelessly to perfect their craft, meticulously down to the last ad-lib. And, there's Nas. Since etching his name into the history books with his immortal debut llmatic, his equally immortal mic ….
It's hard to discern whether Nasir was even Nas' idea. When Kanye West announced he'd be producing it, it felt like a personal milestone for him more than a fleshed-out collaboration. Nas clearly obliged, but it's hard to imagine Nasir is the album Nas bragged about on the 2016 DJ Khaled song "Nas Album Done." The record was not done at the time that track was released, but the sheer brashness of Nas treating a completed album like a plutonium cache indicated that he was feeling himself.
Rapper returns after six years with a political album that address America's race inequalities but remains silent on Kelis' allegations "I feel like I'm 18 year old again when I make beats for Nas," Kanye West tweeted back in April, melting the internet in the process. Fans have been waiting six years for a new Nas album after 2012's Life Is Good; his 'Nas Album Done' song with DJ Khaled in 2016 raised hopes one would soon appear, yet nothing materialised; 'done' here seemingly meant 'shelved'. Fast forward two years and now Nas finds himself in the middle of Kanye's breathless media hype-storm as West releases 5 albums over 5 weeks via his G.O.O.D label.
It goes without saying, Nas will always be one of the most accomplished rappers around. Illmatic, It Was Written and the classic joints scattered between Stillmatic and God's Son still continue to influence peers right on down to Joey Bada$$ and the jazz-rap movement that has resurfaced these several few years. Even his collaborations with Damian Marley have become timeless classics.
Every Nas album since the turn of the century has closely orbited a major theme. At his most overt (he called an album Hip Hop Is Dead in 2006 and tried to call another Nigger two years later), the iconic Queens rapper will trace one idea from a dozen different angles, writing high-concept Fox News disses or rapping like a 1920s bootlegger. Sometimes he's more subtle: 2002's God’s Son, released exactly a year after he telegraphed a return to form on Stillmatic, feigns the same sort of legacy burnishing but is really an album about his mother’s death.
Subscribe via iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS The Lowdown: In 2016, Nas teased a perennially thirsty fan base with the threat of new music on the appropriately titled standout from DJ Khaled's Major Key album, "Nas Album Done". What has become painfully clear since the June 15th release of NASIR - Nas' self-titled 11th studio album and the follow-up to 2012's Life Is Good - is that Nas was not as close to being finished as the song first suggested. The most compelling evidence of this is the album itself, which is grossly underdone.
Of the five projects Kanye West had in store for us, I was most excited for NASIR; because Kanye brings out the best of both Pusha T and Kid Cudi, I expected great things from Daytona and Kids See Ghosts. And because Kanye West hasn’t produced anything for Nas since Hip Hop Is Dead back in 2006 (of which Kanye’s “Still Dreaming” is one of the few tracks worth salvaging), I wanted to see how he would tailor an entire album – albeit a short one – for Nas. Nas, on the other hand, has spent most of his career disappointing people eager for another Illmatic, but I found his last album, 2012’s Life is Good, to be unexpected greatness, and one of the best hip-hop albums from a year with no shortage of them and easily his best album in a decade.