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

His 10th studio album cannot come soon enough

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.

00:00 00:00 No Song Selected More info
00:00 00:00
Now Playing
  • 1 Tiësto & KSHMR — Secrets " 04:28
  • 2 Mercies — Every Echo " 00:00
  • 3 Jimmy Whispers — Heart Don't Know " 02:32
  • 4 GRiZ — For The Love " 04:41
  • 5 King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard — God Is in the Rhythm " 03:46
  • 6 FlatbushZOMBiES — Did U Ever Think feat. Joey BadA$$ & Issa Gold " 05:02
  • 7 Zuli — Better All the Time " 03:31

SPIN is a member of SPIN Music Group, a division of BUZZMEDIA