Listens for the Week #10
Updated: Nov 25, 2022
Every week, I offer three recommendations: something new, something classic, and something I love. This week I've been loving the new Nas album to the point I'm behind on other new releases. Aside from that, I've took some time to check out some classic soul and jazz.
Nas & Hit-Boy - King's Disease III (2022)
King's Disease III is the sixteenth album by hip hop veteran Nas. After Life is Good in 2010, Nas lost a bit of his magic, and I found his music did not hook me in the same way. That was, until 2020 when he joined up with producer Hit-Boy for King's Disease. Three years later, King's Disease III marks the end of the trilogy, cementing Nas as one of the rappers with the most longevity in the industry. As I was hoping for, Nas maintains that same fierceness to his verses as he had on Magic last year, but this time with a bulkier, more cohesive tracklist like King's Disease II. King's Disease III takes everything wonderful about Nas and Hit-Boy's joint projects and combines them into the duo's sharpest collaboration yet. The production is bouncy and energetic, filled with heavy bass and punchy drums, but not so vibrant to the point it distracts from Nas's performance. In fact, it's the inverse. Nas sounds so comfortable on these loud and luxurious beats, conjuring that same fire to his performance he had back in the '90s but over an unapologetic modern sound. Hit-Boy brings out the best in Nas, and vice versa. There's elements of boom bap, pop rap, and even drill in here, making for a diverse set of sounds and the most exciting Nas album in years.
Baby Huey - The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend (1971)
This is a masterpiece in Chicago soul and one that doesn't receive near enough praise. It was Huey's first album, but unfortunately, it was also his last. He passed away during the album process, leaving producer Curtis Mayfield and a handful of others to add grandiose instrumental elements to match the power and emotion of Baby Huey's voice. The production has the same layered intricacies of Superfly and Curtis by Curtis Mayfield, but what sets it apart from those records is Huey's tyrannical presence. His voice dominates every song he's featured on, conveying so much sadness, passion and love across this album. He's a great writer but his voice alone would make this an outstanding listen for any soul fan.
Something I Love
Q-Tip - The Renaissance (2008)
The Renaissance embodies everything I love about Q-Tip as a rapper and a producer. The production on this album is bright and jazzy, maintaining that joyful essence of A Tribe Called Quest but with a modern polish. Highlights like the explosive intro "Johnny Is Dead" or the more mellow cuts such as "Life Is Better" and "Believe" are among my favourite Q-Tip songs ever. Q-Tip delivers his signature suave and quick-witted style of rapping, flowing effortlessly over flashy and sombre beats alike. The album flows from track to track so fast that I often think I've just put on, only to discover I'm already on the final song. And since The Renaissance is just that good, I have to replay it immediately.