Nas imparts social reform through rap

Nas imparts social reform through rap

Rap legend Nas’ 13th studio album King’s Disease has released, and is looking pretty fantastic.

This album’s lyrics and line deliveries are absolutely phenomenal. Nas’ rap pedigree is on full display as he effortlessly rattles off clever metaphors and one-liners one after the other. On King’s Disease, Nas manages to interweave allusions and stories about his personal life in conjunction with analysis about the state of society today and social relationships. Topics ranging from domestic and gun violence, to social media’s effects on society today.

What echoes throughout this project are the surprisingly heartfelt and optimistic ideas present. In a genre where so much of the music coming out feels hollow, aggressive and sometimes depressing, it’s refreshing to hear songs and lyrics that actually feel realistic and personal. For example, on the track “Til The War is Won” Nas is pleading with the listener about the benefits of always fighting for the people you care about, and specifically supporting the important women in your life. The song is a direct address towards them and stresses the importance of unity and reliability. “Let’s see where the black family at/ We need each other, with bad tempers, we defeat each other.” “Til The War is Won” manages to give insight into Nas’ life and his morals as we hear what he preaches for others to do. This personal touch and characterization sets this album apart from others of today.

This album will not be for everyone, that is for certain. To really enjoy this, it needs to be soaked in and the only focus of your attention. So much of hip hop today is pretty much just white noise with a deep bass that fills the void at parties and events. Most of the songs here are more lyrically focused and don’t use the instrumentals as a huge crutch. Plus, not being able to hear the great lyrics because of bass would be so disappointing. This is not to say that instrumentals do not matter to make a great track, quite the contrary.

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A small gripe with King’s Disease is that some of the instrumentals’ presences are a little too subdued. Some of the most memorable moments from this project are when the instrumental and vocals both have a very strong presence and focus. While also being memorable, some more variety in the beat sounds and samples would improve the listening experience a good bit.

So, from a lyrical and personality standpoint, King’s Disease is great. It’s unfortunate, but there hasn’t been too much buzz about the project as of late, despite how famous Nas is. For context, Nas’ Illmatic album is considered by many to be one of the best rap albums ever released. Maybe the lack of buzz is because young people are not listening to older rappers like Nas as much anymore. This album may seem like an intimidating listen at first, but it’s only 38 minutes long (which is rather short), so you’ll burn through it quickly. My personal favorite track is “Spicy.” 7.5/10

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