Album Review | Nas – Magic

This album was released on December 24th this year. As of the time of this writing, the album has been out for 10 minutes. It was announced less than 24 hours before its release, so this was a pretty big surprise for me. I enjoyed King’s Disease 2 a lot, and it’s actually grown on me even more since I reviewed it. That album is really great. I’m hoping that this project here will be even better, but I’m gonna try to keep my expectations in check. Every track is produced by Hit-Boy.

There aren’t any songs that I don’t like on this project, so I’ll write about the full thing in the proper order of the tracklist. The album starts off with Speechless. I think the beat on this track is pretty awesome to be honest. It actually kinda sounds like something that Kendrick could’ve rhymed over on good kid, m.A.A.d. city. I think Nas killed this shit too. His flow on the first verse is great.

I'm 21 years past the 27 club
It's like I went back into my past and then I sped it up
Robert Johnson, Winehouse, and Morrison found where heaven was
Heaven on Earth, this shit is magic with no fairy dust
Home of the gully gangsta, the gruesome, and the scary stuff
I told my brother Jung "fuck 'em, they gon' go through hell with us"
They don't have the history in the streets that compare with us

I even love the hook on this track. There’s really nothing I don’t like about this song. Nas usually starts his albums off with great opening tracks, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this song is so good. It really impressed me though. I think it’s dope as hell. The following track is called Meet Joe Black. This one didn’t impress me nearly as much as the opening song, but I still think it’s pretty good. The beat from Hit-Boy is cool, and both of the verses from Nas on this song are good. I actually think the hook is really good too. There’s nothing that I don’t like about this song. It’s just that nothing about it really blew me away. Everything here is very well done though. Nas’ flow sounds great. It’s kind of a short song, so there’s not much to dig into, but nevertheless, I enjoyed it. Ugly is better than the preceding song in my opinion, but not as great as the opening track. I think the production is pretty goddamn good, and of course both of the verses from Nas are great. His flow is nice and smooth as always. I really like the opening quatrain.

It’s ugly outside, it’s muggy, it’s muddy outside
105 fahrenheit, thunderous skies
The clouds shape a clown face above where you reside
Under his eye, teardrop got the ugliest cry

At one point he teases King’s Disease 3, so I guess that’s coming out in 2022. That’s cool.

You been through shit, I been through shit, everyday is an honor
It's ugly how Mercedes Moore lost her life to a stalker
I'm on offense everyday 'til I see the love
KD3 on the way, this just to feed the buzz

This song definitely has the weakest hook on the album up to this point. I wouldn’t say that it’s bad, but it’s just not particularly good. With that said, the actual rapping and production are so good that I don’t even mind. I think this track is dope. I have mixed feelings about the production on 40-16 Building. I appreciate how loud and energetic it is, but the repetitive loop gets kind of old after a while. I still think it’s a good beat, but it’s definitely not one of my favorites on the album. Thankfully, I think Nas rapped over it really well. I like how aggressive he sounds here, and I think the hook is pretty good too. It’s a good track, but far from my favorite on the album. I still fuck with it though. Track 5 is called Hollywood Gangsta, and I know I’ve heard that same sample somewhere very recently, but I can’t remember where. If I ever figure it out I’ll update this review. Update: the sample comes from the song “So Low” by Mic Logik. Anyway, I think the sample itself is pretty great. I just wish it was something I hadn’t already heard before. The beat is still fire though. I think Nas killed it too. Again, his flow and rhymes were smooth as hell, as always.

The scars of martyrs, the path of bastard seeds
Effects of absentee fathers passed on with ease
Hope the babies eat healthier, and may we get wealthier
They was not givin', we ask for forgiveness, not permission
Whole clique is each other's counselor
Holdin' sticks without a hockey puck
Can't co-sign 'em, them niggas not with us
Hop on a private jet with 12 tenants
Right when I land, the chopper to Manhattan is 12 minutes

There’s not really much of a hook on this track, which I don’t mind at all personally. I think the song is really dope. I don’t have any gripes with it. I mean, I guess I would’ve preferred if it had a more original sample, but that’s a super nitpick. The song is dope. The following track is entitled Wu for the Children, and it’s another really great song. I think the production is pretty fantastic. I appreciate the minimal percussion, and Nas sounds fantastic over it. Both of the verses on this track are really smooth. I love how smooth his flow is during this couplet…

It’s so hard for him even though his talent is god-given
Pardon him, stop putting your faults on him

I think the hook on this track is really good too. Nothing about the song really blew me away, but there’s also nothing in particular about it that I don’t like. I think it’s really dope. The following track is a highlight entitled Wave Gods.

This track features A$AP Rocky & DJ Premier, and I think it’s fire. I really love the production, and A$AP Rocky actually rapped shockingly well on the first verse. I mean, it’s not really anything special lyrically, but his flow and delivery just sounded really goddamn great. He fits over this beat really well too in my opinion. Nas definitely had the better verse, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

I used to hit the block hopin' they see me
Watchin' Video Music Box, sittin' close to the TV
I was inspired by Whodini and Kool G
Got my first pair of J's, thought I was 2-3
Invest in all my G's before we rest in peace 'cause we sure to rest in peace
My shorty is a piece, a piece of mind, a dimepiece
I might buy her a piece of property
You might've had some joints, but ain't nothin' like me & Rocky seen

Out of all the songs on the album, this one somehow feels the most complete. The production is fantastic, the rapping is great, and the scratches from DJ Premier are just the icing on the cake. The song is dope as hell. The penultimate song is called Truth, and it’s another really great track. I think the production is pretty cool. I appreciate how aggressive it sounds, and Nas matched the tone pretty well. This is definitely one of the most aggressive songs on the album. His flow on the verses is smooth as hell.

We need a meeting, money and fame is fleeting
You never really know the reason why two people is beefing
Bloody murder, in the '80s, he had suede Louis seats in the 'burban
Did dirty, his sentеnce start turning
Look at life, took advice from thе streets of Vernon
Nothing Nice, John Boy Ice, his death undetermined
Pick an island, anywhere for your happy soul or return it
When I'm gone, I pray my family don't get the cash and burn it

I think the hook is pretty solid too, despite its simplicity. I’ve seen people making bold claims about this song, calling it Nas’ “best song since ’94,” which is kind of insane to me. It’s not really a highlight for me on the album. I think it’s dope though. I fuck with it. The closing track is a major highlight called Dedicated. I love the production from Hit-Boy, and I appreciate how it’s slightly faster paced than a lot of the other songs. Nas sounds fantastic over it.

Chefs come cook for me
Look what it took for me, the streets had its hooks in me
Yeah, people ask me what books to read
Destruction of Black civilization, that's history
Journal of Chris Columbus, that is what interests me
Juneteenth holiday finally came and it pisses me
Off for the fact that we came in chains, you'll be physically in pain
Dedicated like Ricky Walters, Dougie and Dana Dane

There’s a pretty awesome beat switch about halfway through the track that kinda pushes the song to the next level for me. I think this is the best track on the album personally. It grows on me more and more each time I listen to it. It’s dope af.

This album is pretty great. I don’t think it’s quite as good as King’s Disease 2 personally, but it’s definitely close. Also, for what it’s worth, this is the first time that I’ve liked every single track on a Nas album since Illmatic. I really don’t have any consistent gripes with it. Not every track blew me away, but I’m definitely satisfied with this project. I think Nas & Hit-Boy are a great pair, and, even though I’d personally like to see Nas work with guys like DJ Premier and Large Professor again, I’m looking forward to King’s Disease 3. I won’t be surprised if this ends up as my favorite album of December. I think it’s really dope. Check it out.

Favorite Song: Dedicated
Least Favorite Song: Meet Joe Black


Watch the video below for more thoughts on this album.

Grade: B+

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