Instead of being received as Nas' 11th album, Nasir arrived in a blur of Kanye West's design. The instant the EP-length set was issued, it slotted into place as the fourth volume of "the Wyoming sessions," a series of like-sized releases with West involved on every song, recorded primarily at a ranch rented by the producer. Preceded in consecutive May-June 2018 weeks by DaytonaYe, and Kids See GhostsNasir falls into Nas' chronology six years after Life Is Good. During the dry spell, Nas tended to his legacy with a documentary, expanded reissue, and PBS-aired orchestral performance of Illmatic, and made guest appearances on at least three dozen numbers, including DJ Khaled's "Nas Album Done." On that track, Nas evidently wasn't referring to Nasir, a set that could not have been complete, not with its references to later events, from Colin Kaepernick's protest of police brutality to the unlawful arrest of two black men at a Starbucks. Rather than playing out like a mercilessly edited, up-to-date album with all fat removed, Nasir resembles rotting offcuts bundled with some fresh standouts to placate a fan base expecting a major statement. A prevailing quantity of the tracks is either forgettable or regrettable. Nas often sounds unenthused -- surprising given that most of the beats evoke a degree of agitation -- and is occasionally boorish, writing "pre-bate" and "slayed" into one couplet and detailing violent sex in another. (All this on material released only a few weeks after ex-wife Kelis accused Nas of mental and physical abuse.) Even with West's emetic mention of "fake news," "Cops Shot the Kid" is the highlight. As a Slick Rick sample loops continuously to reflect recurrent tragedies, Nas paints vivid street scenes of joy, fear, and ultimately terror: "White kids are brought in alive/Black kids get hit with like five."

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