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Magic 2- Still Magical

Nas delivers a magnum opus.

By Brian Published 10 months ago 5 min read
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Artist: Nasir Nas Jones

Album: Magic 2

Producer (s): Hit-Boy

A Review

By Brian Salkowski

The fact that I am writing a review on Nas' 16th studio album is a success in itself. All the questions about his "beat selection" have been long answered. The question of age and specifically age beyond 40 in Rap has been squashed.

As I said, this is the 16th full-length album from Queensbridge veteran Nas. The son of jazz cornetist/guitarist Olu Dara, the breakout debut illmatic & & the equally classic sophomore effort It Was Written are widely acknowledged as some of the greatest in hip hop history. I also enjoy stillmatic, The Lost Tapes, God’s Son & Life is Good. Not to mention the monstrous "I Am The Autobiography" oops. I mean I Am, the very cut down album that was intially going to be the first double concept album. Yet after leaks and Napster craziness, it never came to fruition. I would have to write a separate piece just to adress that album and songs.

Then there was the Kanye West-produced NASIR & The Lost Tapes II, which I felt like they were fine additions to his catalogue even though the overall consensuses were polarizing. But for almost 3 years now, Nas has been working exclusively with Hit-Boy & both of them are a good fit for each other. King’s Disease earned Esco his first Grammy, but the sequel as well as Magic & the 3rd installment of the King’s Disease trilogy each took their chemistry to new heights. But ahead of KDIV, we’re preluded by a sequel to Magic.

Ladies and gentlemen. MAGIC 2!

The latest album the New York icon released was ‘King's Disease III,' the third and concluding installment of the ‘King's Disease' trilogy, which came out last year. The album also features 21 Savage and 50 Cent, the two rappers we never thought would ever collaborate with Nas. Impossible is truly nothing.

Following the introduction, the first track, “Abracadabra,” is a glittering trap opener with Nasty Nas threatening to make anyone who tries him grimy. This album finds Nas taking the energy of his 90s records into a brand new era. "Abracadabra" enchants the right spell, if you will, with a West Coast funk as Nas expresses that "doo-rag" energy while the subtle 70s gospel-funk that drives and brings us to "Office Hours" Ft 50 Cent.

While “Office Hours,” featuring 50 Cent, finds the two formerly feuding artists working together over a soulful boom bap instrumental, with a group of Fredos obviously alluding to The Godfather II. Unfortunately, 50s verse could have been lengthier. If you've been following hip-hop for a while, you'll know Nas and 50 Cent have had a long feud. As a result, we never saw the two artists collaborate when they were in their twenties and thirties. So, it's better late than never, right? Nas and 50 eventually chose to combine in “Office Hours,” at 48 and 49 (respectively), and they don't disappoint.

On “Motion,” Nas gives his most spectacular rap performance to date. The NYC rapper says his stuff early and frequently, propelled by this cunning, sinister sound. Along with bragging about the sizable checks he's getting, he also flaunts his outstanding cars and disheartens his rivals. Nas seems quite competitive throughout this song, which is impressive. Yes, the flows he plays with are excellent, but his aggressive tone really stands out.

Beyond the intro, “Black Magic” is the shortest and unquestionable the best track on this album. A archaic, boom bap track with keys that fill the space with fervor and Nas is in full effect, spitting his street narrative with an edginess that resonates with the subject matter. Your attention is genuinely captured by Nas's vigor and his exceptionally consistent flows. Additionally, you'd like the way his lyrics explore the curses that people cast on others, frequently motivated by jealously. If you're a Nigerian, you've probably heard warnings about things like this. Not to be forgotten is the captivating beat Hit-Boy provides for Nas in “Black Magic.” It emanates an enigmatic, odd, and soothing attraction all at once, sort of like Brittany Spears.

Back in 1991, if you had told Magic Johnson that he would ultimately win, he probably would have smacked you in the face for being impolite. In addition to his long list of outstanding accomplishments, he just made history by becoming one of the few minority owners in the NFL. Nas' ode to the Lakers' all-time great, “Earvin Magic Johnson,” is flawless. Nas discusses his come-up with his chest out in the song, which is fittingly propelled by this jubilant beat. He also mentions providing his squad with some outstanding assists and earning a number of chips on the streets. You'll be energized by the song's hook. It also has boss-like bars that ought to motivate you to perform well.

“Bokeem Woodbine” keeps things dusty by switching up the bells and strings with more keys to provide encouragement for the trappers living ounce-to-ounce. With lush orchestration, “What This All Really Means” recalls the first time he ever saw his name on a flyer, yet “Slow It Down” admits he needs money every day to return to the boom bap.

“One Mic, One Gun” is all about growth and development. 21 Savage and Nas talk about becoming kings, ignoring rumors, making investments, and reaching greatness in the song. While the former uses a sneaky, mellow rhyming style over the joyous Hit-Boy-produced beat, the latter takes a more bouncy and enthusiastic approach. When rappers adopt a mature approach to settling conflict, it's admirable.

The penultimate track yet official closer “Pistols On Your Album Cover” hooks up these kicks & snares with a mellow loop reminding that he can still murder anyone on wax & forget where they’re buried chockfull of clever references that is until the bonus cut “1 Mic, 1 Gun” featuring 21 Savage blends trap & jazz together so both of them flexing that they still gonna do what they did then in the present. Not only was a great way to squash all the drama surrounding 21 & Nas last fall, but I think everyone deluded by the hip hop generation gap can learn something from it too.

Hit-Boy’s run with Nas has been absolutely special & Magic 2 continues to cement that by progressively improving on what made the predecessor alongside the 3rd installment of the KD series the best albums they’ve done together. The eclectic production demonstrates his range & with the pen, Esco feels as if he’s been reborn even though he continues to make history almost 3 decades in. He is fresher than ever and has a never-ending supply of vocabulary and new age schemes that make the kids of today run back to their room, tearing up what they thought they wrote was hot and start a whole new direction.

This is the kind of a 5-Album run that can inspire a whole new generation to get more creative.

From witty intros and sonic snares and boom bap nostalgia, Nas and Hit Boy did it again and at this point....nothing is stopping them.

And no one is complaining.

I give this album a 10/10.

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About the Creator

Brian

I am a writer. I love fiction but also I'm a watcher of the world. I like to put things in perspective not only for myself but for other people. It's the best outlet to express myself. I am a advocate for Hip Hop & Free Speech! #Philly

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