Nas, the seasoned rapper, has long been criticized for his questionable taste in beats, rushing projects, and not fully utilizing his innate talents. Many felt he never truly lived up to the standard set by his iconic 1993 debut, Illmatic. However, during the music industry shutdown in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nas decided to address these criticisms.
The turning point came when Big Sean humorously called him out, prompting Nas to take his craft more seriously. A chance encounter with Fontana producer Hit-Boy led to a remarkable creative partnership that resulted in six full-length albums over four years, split into two trilogies. The final installment of this project, Magic 3, was released on Nas’ 50th birthday.
The significance of this collaboration for both artists’ careers and the broader hip-hop culture cannot be overstated. Nas and Hit-Boy’s four-year journey should be remembered as a shining example of the genre’s potential and serve as a guide for future artists.
When Nas announced the first King’s Disease album produced by Hit-Boy, he was recovering from a creative slump and dealing with personal issues. Despite these challenges, no one could have predicted the surge in productivity that followed.
The decision to collaborate with Hit-Boy seemed confusing initially, given their contrasting styles and backgrounds. However, this unlikely partnership worked. Hit-Boy’s production breathed new life into Nas’ work and introduced him to a new generation of collaborators.
Artists like A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Anderson .Paak, ASAPs Ferg and Rocky, Big Sean, Blxst, Don Toliver, Fivio Foreign, Lil Durk, and 21 Savage had grown up admiring Nas’ contributions to hip-hop. Nas’ willingness to bridge the generational gap was significant for his career and the wider rap community.
This collaboration not only helped Nas silence critics who questioned his relevance but also drew parallels to Gucci Mane’s role as a mentor in Atlanta’s trap rap scene.
The partnership proved that hip-hop is not just a “young man’s game” and that veteran artists can extend their careers by embracing younger generations. It also highlighted the importance of pursuing passion over trends.
Hit-Boy played a crucial role in reigniting Nas’ career. Despite being overlooked by a certain superproducer, both artists bounced back impressively. Hit-Boy became even more productive, working with artists like Dom Kennedy, Dreezy, Music Soulchild, and even his own father.
Thanks to their collaboration, Nas won his first-ever Grammy after over 30 years in the industry, and Hit-Boy’s profile has never been higher. Their partnership was indeed magical, and fans eagerly await what’s next for both artists.