Even if Nas doesn't release another album, he'll go down as one of the all-time hip-hop greats. But Nas has been teasing a new album for a minute, so I'll gladly take one. In the days leading up to Life is Good, he detonated a grenade on Twitter and titled it "Nasty" just to make sure we get the idea.
Indeed, "Nasty" is covered in a sabulous layer of dust. No misguided ambition of chasing radio spins. No shawties who owe him for ice. No grumpy old man eager to display his neoteric wizardry. This is Nas in his element. Boom bap, chest thumps, and what Rah Digga would refer to as "straight spittin'."
"Nasty" returns the Queens MC to early 90s era New York rap. The song opens with an announcer querying the crowd of spectators, "Queensbridge, y’all ready to see Nasty Nas? Uh-huh, they ready." Then, the guitar drops, the drums break. Nas proceeds to unleash a torrent of fierce rhymes in rapid succession. No guests or hooks to interrupt him. Boasts about his track record and enviable body of work dominate the soliloquy. The beat bumps. The rhymes immediately remind you that this is the same mind that spawned Illmatic.
"I'm not in the winters of my life or the beginner's stage, I am the dragon." No questions there. Son spits flames.
"Nasty" won't gain traction with any of the major players. It won't crack your local station's Top 10 playlist. But Esco could care less at this point in his career. F-ck your radio. His legacy is secure. And that's never been in question, no matter what you think of his post-Illmatic output. But, like Jay-Z said, he just thought he'd remind ya.