"Still got the same flame behind me from the Hate Me Now video"
Nas has been rapping as well as ever on these Hit-Boy collaborations but none of their four projects have wowed me. I've been trying to put my finger on why that is and there is a common theme in my reviews of the KD series and Magic - The lack of catchy hooks. Where are the hooks like 'Small World'? 'Hate Me Now'? 'Nas Is Like'? 'Bye Baby'? 'Made You Look'? They don't exist. The verses are fire, and again, the production is another improvement overall on 'KDII', and to a lesser degree 'Magic', but I want some better hook writing! Some of the hooks are just talking, other songs don't seem to have one, some have them but aren't catchy and/or don't have anything different from Hit-Boy in the production department to make the chorus standout from the verses. One of the more memorable hooks is the one with the uncredited Mario vocals on 'Serious Interlude', along with the 'I'm on Fire' vocals/sample(?). On 'Serious Interlude', about 50 seconds in, you can clearly hear Nas jump in and out of the verse that isn't something I've noticed before.
Nevertheless, this is still an extremely consistent album and one that has grown on me as I've spun it half a dozen times. The least likeable moments for me are 'WTF SMH', that has lazy Kanye like repetitive sampling(?) in the second half, and then the final bonus track doesn't have great production either. Those aside though, as mentioned, apart from wanting some more memorable hooks, you can't fault this much. There are original song topics like 'First Time' that add to its creativity, the beats bang more overall that the previous Hit-Boy production and Nas continues to bring it as he has since '91.
Best Tracks: Legit, Thun, Michael & Quincy, Hood2Hood, Reminisce, Serious Interlude, I’m on Fire, Get Light, First Time, Beef