Made You Look: Nas Turns 50

Some thoughts as we wait for Magic 3 to drop

Nas announces Magic 3 on Instagram (Image: Instagram)

It’s no coincidence that Nasir Jones was born a month after hip-hop began at a back-to-school party in the rec room of 1520 Sedgwick Ave. in the South Bronx.

Some might even say hip-hop was truly born in Queens when this young Libra baby emerged on August 14, 1973. He grew up in the very parks MC Shan was rapping about on “The Bridge,” and as a child of the Queensbridge housing projects he had a front row seat to the evolution of rap music in his own neighborhood. 

Now we are all sitting here 50 years later looking for Nas to surprise drop the final chapter of his collaborative double trilogy with producer Hit-Boy, Magic 3, which he promised us would come out on his big birthday today.

The waiting is the hardest part, but as a fan of both the King’s Disease and Magic albums I know it will be worth it the baited breath until 9 PM rolls along. Despite how you may feel about Hit-Boy’s production, you can’t deny how fire Nas has been on the lyrical tip across these records. 

“Special like my classics / Special like my listeners who have attachments / To my old style, won’t let me past it,” he rhymes on “Wu is for the Children” off the first Magic LP, addressing those very souls who cannot seem to respect the man’s work beyond his debut Illmatic.

Nas Magic 3, Mass Appeal 2023

Look man, the Nas catalog is a large and occasionally frustrating one in the annals of rap history, as anyone who had to endure the I Am… / Nastradamus era can easily let you know. But these KD and Magic albums have seen Nas writing and rapping with a reflective relentlessness as well as a verbal dexterity that flies in the face of everything he’s done in the past. 

Rap is a young man’s game, or so they say right. But it’s almost like these last four years have flipped a switch in his brain that allowed him to write whatever he wants and collab with whoever he wants. Reunite with Lauryn Hill and The Firm? Sure. Get EPMD and Eminem on the same track? Why not? Fuck with young cats like A Boogie Wit da Hoodie and YG? Hell yes. Cut an album with no guest spots? Here’s KD III. 

The freedom and velocity by which Nasir Jones has been creating as he turns 50 today is new territory for hip-hop. Not even an artist as prolific as Kool Keith has produced material with such velocity as Nas has these last four years.

For anyone who still sees this dude as some kind of throwback or nostalgia act, give him the respect he deserves and listen to Magic 3 tonight as he turns 50. That shit’s just flowing like water, as he says on the 50 Cent-assisted “Office Hours” off Magic 2. If you consider yourself any kind of fan of real hip-hop, it’s best to just enjoy the currents he’s creating with some of his best work yet. 



Ron Hart
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Ron Hart

Ron Hart is the Editor-in-Chief of Rock and Roll Globe. Reach him on Twitter @MisterTribune.

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