Lots of trends have passed Nasir Jones in his 20 years in the rap game: the Biggie/Tupac feud, Ja Rule and Ashanti collaborations, Auto-Tune, swag rap, conscious rap, emo rap, frat rap, The Blueprint Vol. I-III, Eminem, Eminem impersonators, Cash Money Records, Young Money Records, and much too much to recap in the name of brevity. But on his newest single, “The Don,” Nas doesn’t have a problem with dismissing it all and declaring himself the king over a whiplash, clattering beat provided by the late Heavy D through which the rhymes come mean and mugged. “20 years in this game, looking 17,” he raps, and it’s hard to disagree.
The song is supposed to be from his upcoming album, Life is Good, which has an up-in-the-air release date as is sadly common with aging rappers who haven’t been radio mainstays in a few years. Nas hasn’t been the type to reinvent his career with pop star collaborations and dumbed down guest verses on Pussycat Dolls tracks, which has allowed him to maintain some of the focused fury that made him such a force in his early career. There’s just a hint of self-righteousness in his verses, but such attitude must be allowed of the man who once ended Jay-Z’s life in rap form. (Painfully stale “Gay-Z” cracks aside.) Granted, Hova’s won the war in the public eye a few times over ever since, but history doesn’t lie.
You can also watch Nas talk a little bit over at RapGenius, where he’s apparently become the first verified account on the popular lyrics website. It’ll theoretically give him a platform to discuss his lyrics, but it’ll have to wait: In this first video, he mostly seems like he’s still figuring out how to work the web cam. It’s only fair to give him some time; after all, they didn’t have web cams 20 years ago.