Nas Finally Releases His Album…For Real This Time (Audio)
It’s been six years since Nas fans were presented a full album from one of Hip-Hop’s most revered lyricists. In that time, the MC has remained focused on his business ventures, including a media company, record label, TV and film production, Sweet Chick restaurants, and a massively successful equity firm. He also had a Harvard fellowship created in his honor, the same Ivy League university that has his classic debut in their archives, and analyzed his poetry. Nas has become a shark in the boardroom, but still somebody who is an apex predator on the mic. 2012’s Life Is Good served as a trailblazer towards albums like JAY-Z’s 4:44. Over the next five-plus years, Nas teased several albums, while spilling out some great loosies, some incredible features, and mentoring artists like Harlem’s Dave East and Fresno, California’s Fashawn. Two years after “Nas Album Done” whet everybody’s appetite, the king of Queensbridge comes home to release the seven-song Nasir. It is the namesake’s twelfth solo studio album and is fully-produced by longtime collaborator, Kanye West.
Tonight (June 14), hours ahead of release, Nas and ‘Ye hit the QB to preview the album. Ahead of its midnight release, the two artists made Heads look care of a live stream, under the namesake bridge. At a time when Nas recorded his album in the west (Wyoming and reportedly, Utah), it is a symbolic homecoming for the MC who began his career with four albums (Illmatic, It Was Written, I Am…, and Nastradamus) featuring the notorious housing towers on the covers. The Hip-Hop landmark where Nasir Jones grew up is perhaps the place that he hopes to return to, creatively and spiritually, as a multi-millionaire creating opportunities for countless others.
“Cops,” featuring a jarring Slick Rick “Children’s Story” vocal and drum loop, is Nas confronting 2018 issues with a 1988, Do The Right Thing sort of vibe. Nasir compares the deaths of Black boys to Emmett Till while contrasting the different dynamics between white children and Black children with law enforcement. “Bonjour” follows a day in Nas’ life, from an overseas rendezvous to callbacks to his hustling days as a teen in Queens. The song is punctuated by a soft French vocal, background vocals, and gentle piano keystrokes. “Adam & Eve” keeps the 88 keys handy, as Nas looks at his lineage, his pastimes, and a comparison of his life to the climax of The Godfather 2 film. “Simple Things” finds the MC brandishing his legacy, and laughing at his critics. He displays his gold and platinum plaques while spitting at the Top 40-chasing MCs. It is a fitting move for an album that may be Nas’ most sparse sounding.
This seven-song project deals with institutional racism, prejudice against Black folks, and the vast divide between the haves and the have-nots. Additionally, the poet seems to write with ancestors and children in mind, as well as the perks of being a happily single, wealthy Black man in America.
For an artist who has emphatically rocked over samples by James Brown, Michael Jackson, Kenny Loggins, and others, Nasir is a very referential album musically. True to its compelling photograph artwork, Nas has his past on his mind, with so many of our futures.
The album is among a string of seven-song releases West has been behind the boards for including his ye, a collaborative Kanye-Kid Cudi project, KIDS SEE GHOSTS, and Pusha-T’s third solo set, Daytona. Heads following the movement can stay tuned for G.O.O.D. Music’s Teyana Taylor’s project next week (June 22).
Additional Reporting by Bandini.