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The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

King Disease III Album Review: A Master Lyricist Remains at the Top of His Craft

In his fourth project in two years, Nas cements himself as a rap icon.
Photo Courtesy / YouTube Nas

Nas is an inarguable rap icon, with critically-acclaimed albums in four separate decades and a Grammy to boot, his legacy within the genre is almost unsaleable. His most prevalent musical adversary, Jay-Z, is the only other living artist who can rival the mix of critical praise and lyrical longevity.

 In the intervening five years since Jay-Z’s last solo album “4:44”, Nas has churned out five full-length albums, with “Kings Disease III” marking his fourth project in two years.

All 54 songs across the sprawling LPs, “King’s Disease,” “King’s Disease II,” “Magic” and now “King’s Disease III” were entirely produced by Hit-Boy, known for producing hits for Kendrick Lamar and Travis Scott, among others. The two have an obvious musical synchronicity that gives Nas an updated flair while managing to preserve his ’90s rap essence. The production vacillates between jazzy and trap-inspired samples and beats that allow Nas to showcase his evergreen lyricism and technical proficiency in a modern-day wrapping. 

The album opens with the track “Ghetto Reporter,” which features snippets from an Alan Watts lecture and a Richard Pryor stand up special. Nas loves to open his albums with a mix of social commentary and rap braggadocio, and “Ghetto Reporter” is no different. 

Reinforced by bombastic drums, Nas reflects on the state of the music industry, his own success and the potency of the project audiences are about to listen to. Artists praising their own music is nothing new, and rap especially has no shortage of self-aggrandizing genius claims. 

The main difference with Nas — and “KD III” — is that he happens to be right about the quality of his own work. This album is incredibly impressive, and both Nas and Hit-Boy are understandably high on their own melodic supply.

Without a single feature, Nas stays razor-sharp lyrically, thematically and technically, carrying the album from front to back with his writing and charisma. He sounds motivated and energized, with an almost youthful exuberance for the music. 

A legacy artist who is eighteen albums into a decades-long career displaying this level of creative fervor is almost unheard of. Most rappers of this caliber are either retired, or putting out mediocre projects that complicate their discographies. Eminem and Lil Wayne are similarly renowned artists that are still active, but they’ve both released critically-reviled albums that seem closer to cash grabs than they do earnestly creative endeavors. 

Nas is far from the rock bottom of his contemporaries: “Magic,” and the “King’s Disease” trilogy, represent reinvention and modernization. An artist evolving with the trends without losing sight of what made him so successful in the first place — his writing. 

He’s always had a knack for constructing vivid stories that place his audience in the world of Queensbridge, containing lyrical prose that’s often imitated, but never replicated. The best showcase of writing on “KD III” is the song “Beef,” where Nas embodies the concept and examines why human beings are so eager to hurt each other over perceived slights. 

Societal analysis and reflection from the perspective of an artist who has seen a large number of his colleagues killed, from Biggie Smalls in 1997 to Takeoff in 2022. Luckily for us, Nas is still here, and he’s still in his musical prime. 

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  • D

    DJOFeb 11, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    Great article! Nas continues to amaze! I saw him in concert August 2022 with Wu-Tang….Nas stole the show….one of very few artists who sound just as good in person, as they do on wax!!!

    Reply
  • G

    Grip GriffinFeb 7, 2023 at 2:39 pm

    Nas is the king point blank

    Reply