It’s been five years since Nas released his tenth solo album, Life Is Good, a well-received project that focused on the emcee’s legacy – being a representative of Queens, his career behind the microphone, his divorce from Kelis, and fatherhood. The album, which featured guests such as Rick Ross, Mary J. Blige, Large Professor, and a posthumous appearance from Amy Winehouse, successfully captured a matured and seasoned Nas, which may seem odd given the fact that he’s often been viewed as a soul wise beyond his years.
From the dungeons of rap, however, audio addicts clamor for the long-awaited follow-up that never seems to come, that Nas himself fueled hopes back in 2016 when he collaborated with DJ Khaled for the super promo record “Nas Album Done.” Since then the “smooth criminal on beat breaks” has been relatively quiet on the LP front. Aside from his business ventures, there are a few reasons to believe that 2017 may be the year one of the G.O.A.T.’s makes his return.
The Get Down
Sure, we haven’t gotten the Nas Album but it’s not like he hasn’t been keeping busy. In addition to all the commotion surrounding his record with Khaled, Mr. Jones served as an executive producer and narrator of the Netflix original The Get Down. Telling the story of the emergence of Hip Hop in its early days as an underground phenomenon, with Disco standing on its last leg. Nas assumed responsibility for writing the lyrics heard from the series’ main protagonist Zeke Figuero. Close listeners will note that the character channels much of the same Esco who first appeared on Main Source's 'Live at the BBQ,' a young wordsmith whose talent is a raw as the environment around him. When speaking with Andre Harrell for REVOLT's Music Talks , Nas cited the series as an indicator as to what his next project may sound like.
"My album — you got to think about [me] getting involved with "The Get Down," going into stories of the '70s — 1970 in The Bronx opened my head up to different things," he shared. "So to put that record together and have what I'm feeling from my experience of working on "The Get Down," [and] what I've been learning, and combine that with the way I hear music today, as soon as we mold that thing perfectly together and put the special glue in there, we're going to give it to whoever wants to hear it."
Though his rhymes on the show may be in character, records like 'Angels with Dirty Faces' (a song you never realized you needed) display an Illmatic state of mind.
Frequent Guest Appearances
Prior to the release of The Get Down, Nas flexed his producing talents for the IFC Films independent drama, The Land, telling the story of four teenagers who turn to selling drugs in order to leave their desolate hometown of Cleveland. The film featured Erykah Badu and Machine Gun Kelly in supporting roles, though they contributed majorly to the hip hop-fueled soundtrack. Nas would appear on the soundtrack twice, once on French Montana’s “Figure It Out” and again on the tear-jerker “This Bitter Land” with Ms. Badu assisting with some soul-baring vocals.
While 'Nas Album Done' was in-fact a major key in the legend's return, DJ Khaled is supplying us with 'another one.' While there aren't any details regarding his contributions to Khaled's highly-anticipated tenth album Grateful, it would be foolish to expect anything less than great. His track record with We the Best's head honcho is worthy enough of its own side project, having thrown down verses on “Victory” with John Legend and the ode “Hip Hop” alongside Scarface, Nas has grown to become one of Khaled's go-to spitters, it also doesn't hurt that their collaborations are arguably classic-worthy.
Over the course of the last year, Nas has appeared on The Hamilton Mixtape and the soundtrack for the Nat Turner historical drama The Birth of a Nation. Having his name attached to projects likely to draw eyes is a smart move, keeping Nas relevant in the ever-expanding landscape of this digital age. Even more recently, Nasty appeared on “Powers that Be” from Rather You than Me, the ninth album from his Carol City cohort Rick Ross, who coincidentally featured on “Accident Murderers” from Life Is Good.
Since appearing on Rozay’s latest, Nasty lent his talents to “Systematic” alongside DJ Shadow, on the soundtrack to HBO’s Silicon Valley. Similar to his rhymes displayed on The Get Down, Nas certainly isn’t slacking and this newly lit fire within him is a refreshing one that makes the prospect of Nas Album that much more mouth-watering.
He Said the Album Will Drop This Year
In April, Esco spoke with Billboard on his thriving entrepreneurship and Mass Appeal’s partnership with WeWork, a company that renovates and designs office space, where naturally, the conversation shifted to the subject of a new album.
When asked if fans could expect a project before year’s end, the emcee answered, “for sure.” Coy he may be, it can be argued that Nas’ response isn’t definitive, yet it’s the surest sign that he’s working new material that will serve as the follow-up to Life Is Good. Without a confirmed titled, Nas Album will remain in the vaults until he see fit, also adding, “It’s not done till it hits the streets.”
Nas is currently on the road with dates primarily overseas, throughout Germany and the U.K., but he will perform in states come September for the Meadows festival. Not only is he billed alongside fellow titan Jay Z, but he will be taking the stage in his hometown nonetheless. With nothing else in the states as of this writing, it seems to indicate that should God’s Son drop the LP we know is in the stash, it will more than likely see a release after the Summer.
Fingers crossed the album arrives sooner than later, although keep in mind that “Nas is coming.”