Nearly six years after releasing Life is Good, Nas will reportedly unleash his long-awaited eleventh album next month. On top of being his latest effort, it will also be his first entirely produced by the currently controversial Kanye West.
In the midst of his support for President Donald Trump and his divisive slavery comments, West revealed that Nas’ new album would arrive on June 15. The revelation brings bubbling expectations and questions to the surface. Thus, CASSIUS brings you seven things we expect to see from Esco this go around (if the album does, indeed, arrive as promised).
It’s been a whopping 24 years since Nas delivered his magnum opus, Illmatic. Although none of his albums have matched the debut’s acclaim, he’s managed to evolve consistently. Now, at 44 years of age, growth will be an essential part of that evolution. We’re expecting enhanced technical skill from one of rap’s most heralded voices, like Royce Da 5’9″ and Black Thought continue to display. But we are also hoping for emotional maturity through his lyrics, the way JAY-Z, Phonte, and the aforementioned duo delivered with their latest offerings.
In 1994, Nas entered the rap game as an expecting father, thinking of words that best described his life to name his daughter. By 2012, he delivered one of hip-hop’s most celebrated fatherhood anthems in “Daughters.” Today, he can expand on that with raps about his 23-year-old daughter Destiny (the name he wound up giving his only child with Carmen Bryan) and his eight-year-old son Knight (his only child with Kelis). Following custody battles, public drama, and more, it would be interesting to hear Esco’s thoughts on parenting in his life’s latest phase.
Although he hasn’t released an album in quite some time, Nas has been making money moves. Between projects, he’s invested in and worked with a series of big-name companies, including Genius, Mass Appeal, ring, and Hennessy, just to name a few. So, it would be dope to hear his perspective on the investment game, knowing he’s got the experience to back it. JAY-Z and Nipsey Hussle are among recent examples of how this mentality could work over masterful production, so Esco’s twist on the financial freedom wisdom and venture capitalism would be an added bonus.
Nas is one of hip-hop’s most venerated storytellers. He’s penned stellar narratives like “I Gave You Power,” “Rewind,” and “One Love,” to name a few. These are not just strong stories— they are also some of the most inspired tracks in a celebrated discography. This time around, Esco’s had some years to think about creative plots, characters, and surprising endings, so expectations are running high. How will he continue his legacy as one of the game’s most talented storytellers?
5. Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj is one of rap’s most prominent figures. Like it or not, the fact that they were dating made headlines and piqued curiosity. Now that it’s over, fans will likely have questions about the romance and both artists will likely deliver some answers. Nas has, of course, rapped about the women in his life before (see Life is Good), while Nicki has explored romance throughout her career (see “All Eyes On You”). How will Esco address his recent fling with a queen from Queens?
Nas famously dedicated Life is Good to Kelis. Following their divorce, he even held a piece of her wedding dress on the album’s cover. Since then, things haven’t been kosher. Their legal drama over son Knight continues in the courtroom. Plus, Kelis recently accused him of physical and mental abuse during a much-discussed interview, in which she also detailed his alleged alcoholism. In the post #MeToo era, Nas has to address these allegations, and one of his outlets might be through his lyrics.
7. Kanye West
Last year, Nas called President Donald Trump a racist. Throughout his career, he’s discussed social issues, including much of his work on tracks like “I Want to Talk to You” and albums like Untitled. So, if West, a proud Trump supporter, is, in fact, producing this album, how will Esco react? Did he have to make a last-minute change to respond to West’s “400 years of slavery” comment? How does he address this in a way that coincides with his past stances on Trump and social justice?