In the midst of a tsunami of controversial tweets, Kanye West revealed that he’s been working on Nas’ next album, due on June 15. The announcement that fell between Kanye tweeting about being a free thinker and dropping a solo album completely blindsided most. Nobody had a clue that Kanye and Nas had been working together, and the idea of two of the most talented artists in hip-hop working together almost made us forget about everything else Kanye was tweeting about.
This won’t be their first time working together, as the two have collaborated in the past on songs like “We Major” from Kanye’s Late Registration and “Still Dreaming” on Nas’ album Hip Hop Is Dead. What’s interesting is that nobody really knows what this collaboration may yield. Both Nas and Kanye are seemingly on different wavelengths of life, with Nas continuing to live a relatively understated life despite his success while Kanye is part of the Kardashian clan and seemingly unable to avoid the spotlight (if he wanted to, that is).
How will it affect their music? Will it affect it? Who knows. But here are five things that we want from this yet-untitled Nas album.
For the Album to Actually Come Out
Listen, we’ve been duped before. Back in 2016, DJ Khaled dropped “Nas Album Done” on his Major Key album, on which Nasir Jones went in over a sample of The Fugees‘ “Fu-Gee-La.” For many, it clearly suggested that the first full-length Nas album since 2012’s Life Is Good was imminent. And then… nothing. Kanye West isn’t the most reliable source of information when it comes to things that he’s working on (see: The Life of Pablo rollout), so all we ask is that he’s not selling us a pipe dream.
That Old Kanye West Sound
Kanye West’s sound has evolved a great deal since the soul-sample chops of his College Dropout days. Regardless of whether you love or hate the aggro-pop stylings that West has incorporated on his last two albums, we can all agree that particular sound wouldn’t be fitting for Nas. Instead, a return to earlier Kanye production would complement the Queensbridge rapper. Obviously, we don’t need another College Dropout, but it would certainly be interesting to hear Nas over sonics similar to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. After all, Nas’ struggles with beat selection have been well-documented, and it would be great if we finally heard production that matched the poetry.
A Return to Nasty Nas
Yes, this might be a bit of a stretch considering that Nas is 44 and the iteration of “Nasty” was nearly a quarter-century ago. However, the MC has always managed to deliver fragments of that era on each album. The last thing we need is Nas Escobar over Yeezus production. Not that either is bad on its own merit, but together it would be quite the overwhelming aural experience.
Limit the Guests (Including Kanye)
Nas doesn’t really play well with others. Sure, he’s had a stellar verse alongside another MC, but Nas is at his best when left to his own devices of crafting a song. It allows him to explore ideas, and there’s really nothing better than a fully formed Nas song. A guest here and there would be great, but an overabundance of singers for hooks and rappers would drown out Nas. Honestly, we can do without a Kanye guest verse and would be perfectly fine if he stayed behind the boards on this album.
An Age-Appropriate Nas Album
This might go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: JAY-Z had arguably his most complete work with 4:44 because it tackled mature subject matter in a way that only an experienced individual could. It was a far cry from Hov being an older man acting like he’s young on Kingdom Come and felt absolutely natural. Nas tinkered with this on Life Is Good and doesn’t need to become something that he’s not for this album. He should know his base and what they desire to hear. At 44, there’s still much about Nas that we could all learn. Look, we’re not telling him how to make his album, but nobody would be mad if he ditched the “Oochie Wally” and gave us more songs like “Daughters” and “Queens Get the Money.” Just saying.