King’s Disease Review
King’s Disease by Nas
The King is back- Nasir Jones returns a little over 1 year after the release of his last album, The Lost Tapes 2. Some have been calling this Nas’s first real album since 2012’s Life is Good, given that The Lost Tapes 2 was a compilation of loosies and Nasir was rushed due to Kanye’s Wyoming ambition. While that may be a generous explanation for the middling reception of both of those albums, Life is Good is certainly his last “Nas-quality album.” It maintained the bar that Nas had set for himself in 1994 with the game-changing Illmatic. King’s Disease, in its brief 38 min, is a return to form.
In King’s Disease, Nas returns with a solid, consistent album where he sounds much more comfortable and prepared than his last two projects. When he is outside of his comfort zone, like on trap-influenced “Spicy” and “27 Summers,” he shines, rapping with an energy that we haven’t seen in years. The Hit-Boy production is continuously solid and aligns well with Nas’s smooth delivery. The unlikely features all perform well- Don Toliver, Big Sean, A$AP Ferg, Anderson .Paak, and more. King’s Disease feels like Nas took his time and crafted a genuine, heartfelt work of art with great lyricism.
The theme of King’s Disease, a condition that has been historically thought to have been caused by overindulgence in food and alcohol, is interesting and gives the audience a reason to tune in. Nas’s perspective as a veteran sitting atop the rap game and giving advice to the younger generations, while also showing he deserves to still be there, is fresh and an angle that we have not seen from Nas yet. The 47-year old shines on such storytelling tracks as “King’s Disease” and “The Cure,” while also displaying his skill on trap beats and relationship anthems like “Replace Me” alongside younger artists, which shows his versatility. Perhaps my one main criticism of this album is that I don’t think Nas was ambitious enough. It sounds too safe. It sounds like a man who is coming off 2 disappointing albums who does not want to 3-peat. While that’s fine, I just feel as if Nas could’ve taken the level of lyricism he displays here and amplified it on a better album. The highest point of the album, “Ultra-Black,” is great but still lays within an arena that we have already seen Nas before. There are little-to-no low points on this album, but it feels as if Nas restrained himself and shot for good instead of great. Sure, the trap songs are different, but I still feel as if they’re close enough to typical Nas production that it’s not a crazy step.
Overall, I’m really happy with King’s Disease. It is good to see Nas back spitting like he never left, and he creates a concise work of art that doesn’t overstay its welcome. This is about as good as of a return as you could have, but I do wish that Nas pushed for a classic. King’s Disease is great, but it still leaves me wanting for more Life is Good-level material.
Favorite songs: Ultra-Black, King’s Disease, The Cure