His King’s Disease series formed over that revival and started like defibrillators to the ears of hip-hop fans where old school and new school could live in harmony. The production work from Hit-Boy becomes this Batman and Robin way of hip-hop motion picture work on Magic, a nine-track record that just barely misses the 30-minute mark.
Opening with “Speechless,” Nas has aged like a fine but articulate poet that finds a sparkle underneath Magic. “Speechless” is a sluggish, but solid affirmation where Nas is rekindling some of that prowess with each verse.
He illustrates, “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.”
While being able to admit to the clock continuing to spin for Nas, he carries on with “Speechless” as the beat becomes open like a ribcage on the hook/chorus. He illustrates, “Dope dealers, street hustlers, pop cases. Throw dice on pavement, cop chases. Big gamblers, skullies, hide faces. Gang wars, hot spots, police raid it. Left ‘em speechless, left ‘em speechless.”
The following track “Meet Joe Black” sounds more similar to what the mid-90s brought audiences through this boom-bap snap while samples of boxing bells ring the ears. Nas becomes quicker to wordplay and switches his flow, especially on the hook where he runs in triplets.
He illustrates on the hook, “Run me the keys, run me the B’s, run me that flow back. Your top three, I’m not number one, how could you post that? I wear the crown, the city is mine, you cannot hold that.” He finishes the hook by shouting nearly, “I’m not the one to go at, you fuck around meet Joe Black,” before a gunshot rings the ears similar to the way the boxing bell dings.
Later pieces, “Wu For The Children” is a trip down memory lane where Nas takes Hit-Boy on this bar for bar recreation of a summer barbecue in the city nights. Where lights are all around, Nas seems to stand far from the grill and instead reminiscences in this nearly somber, but thankful tone.
Especially with lines that describe, “ Tallest buildin’ in Manhattan, sippin’ on Manhattan’s. Listen to The Manhattan’s, Queens to Brooklyn, oh what a feelin’. I shoulda had Grammy’s when Ol Dirty said “Wu for the children.” He later goes on to focus more on the missteps of a career, but also the monuments of valor too.
He says, “Shoulda did that remix verse on ‘Gimme The loot’ for Biggie. Me, Jay, and Frank White is like Cole, Drizzy, and Kenny.” It is touching and one of the most emotionally drawing moments for Magic.
As a whole, the record comes like an appetizer for King’s Disease 3 but also spends enough time as a standard to return to. Having the gull of a primarily solo record for Nas, he works best under shorter run times of collections tied together over one centralized theme; control.