The Queensbridge lyricist's follow-up to 2020's "King's Disease" isn't a rehashing of his previous work; it's a more conscious attempt to sever itself from the past, asking what hip-hop should sound like in 2021. It's a more forward-facing record than the last one, and it's bolstered by a reliable collaborator: Hit-Boy.
While the production and lyrics are on par with what we've come to expect from Nas, there's a few iffy decisions that could have made this a better record. The most notable is a song called "EPMD 2."
EPMD is the name of a group of laid-back golden-agers who rapped alongside Nas on his 1999 mixtape "Yah Yah." The track was released to promote the release of their album "Murder in the Family," and it also serves as a great way to pay tribute to hip-hop's past.
Eminem guest raps on "EPMD 2," with Erick Sermon and Parish Smith providing the backing vocals. While the MCs don't have much to say, the song has a neat back-and-forth flow that echoes the rhyming styles of the EPMD duo and fits the beat perfectly.
Throughout the song, Eminem also gives shoutouts to some of the rappers that helped shape his own career. He mentions Kane, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Ye, Drake and a host of others, hoping to take a spot in the pantheon of rap's greatest.