Hear Nas Stay Nasty on Great New Heavy D Co-Production 'The Don'

His 10th studio album cannot come soon enough

Nas
Nas
Marc Hogan WRITTEN BY
Marc Hogan

For those keeping score at home, Nas has notched two great songs in a row — hard-edged, hurtling New York Hip-Hop Master Classes that have mostly eluded him over the past decade-plus. Nine months ago, "Nasty" showed the '90s hip-hop legend could still do a virtuosic, no-hooks verbal tour de force over take-no-prisoners production. On his latest, "The Don," Nasir Jones stays in the NYC rap lane where he can still out-race just about everyone. It's a cause for celebration.

In recent years, Nas has frustrated his longtime followers with media-baiting album titles and empty political slogans, to the point where it's hard to know when it's safe to get excited. Still, consider the evidence: Over a fearsome ragga-tinged beat courtesy of the late Heavy D and with co-producers Salaam Remi and Da Internz, Nas rattles off an untouchable verbal barrage, expertly twisting words and inventing new tough-guy insta-quotables. The pressure only lets up once, with a pillowy keyboard bridge resembling some early-'90s R&B hit that's just out of our reach at the moment. Then it's back to the drum-shuffling blare and nimble bass line.

As Nas puts it: "Twenty years in this game, looking 17." Here, he sounds as hungry as a teenager, but as wise and grizzled as a 20-year veteran. It's unclear at this point when Nas' next album will arrive, but whatever happens, "The Don" should stand as yet another uncompromising triumph from a rapper with more of them than his spotty latter-day output would suggest. Too early to pop the corks?

Hear the no-tags version over at Dajaz1.

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