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King's Disease II

King's Disease II

UPC: 196292266245

Format: LP (2 disc)

Regular price $31.95
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After 2019's disappointing Kanye West-produced Nasir, legendary Queens rapper Nas bounced back with 2020 album King's Disease. With the benefit of exhilarating Hit-Boy production on every track, Nas was revitalized, and the album scored the rapper his first Grammy, three decades into his craft. Sequel King's Disease II bests its predecessor. Hit-Boy takes on the production once more, but instead of relying mainly on throwback beats and wistful nostalgia, this installment of the series is darker, moodier, and more direct. Hit-Boy's beats are often tense and atmospheric, giving the album a cinematic feel as Nas leans harder into storytelling with his lyricism. He still spends time examining the past, but it's more of a history lesson than a fond remembrance. "Death Row East" is perhaps the best example of this, with lyrics that lay out a vivid personal perspective on the East Coast/West Coast beef of the '90s rap scene, Tupac Shakur's death, and Nas' role in those charged times. The warm soul samples and dusty drum loops of "Store Run" offer an old-school backdrop for reflection on memories both glorious and painful, and "Rare" finds Nas and Hit-Boy matching powers with ambitious beat-switching production and a whirlwind of quickly shifting flows and vocal hooks. King's Disease II takes chances, presenting thoughtful, searching instrumentals like "Nobody" (which features a bold verse from the one and only Lauryn Hill) alongside more modernized trap beats like "40 Side" or "YKTV." The album moves smoothly through its various modes, with rowdy tracks highlighted by strong features from Eminem and A Boogie wit da Hoodie transitioning into more introspective and even softly romantic material on the album's second half. Nas sounds sharp and inspired throughout, giving performances that recall the uncanny brilliance that made his earliest work essential, but also showing he's still capable of taking his art to new places. ~ Fred Thomas


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