Nas — whose as-yet-untitled new album is coming August 21 — has long employed a new executive producer for his long-awaited return to rap’s spotlight: The Inland Empire’s own Hit-Boy, the producer responsible for Jay Electronica’s “The Blinding,” Nipsey Hussle and Roddy Ricch’s “Racks In The Middle,” and Big Sean and ASAP Ferg’s “Bezerk.” The announcement suggests that Nas is looking for more hits out of his next project after the lukewarm reception for his last two releases, Nasir and The Lost Tapes 2.
They gave a preview of what their pairing has to offer in July with Nas’ appearance on Hit-Boy and Dom Kennedy’s “City On Lock,” from the latter two artists’ latest Half-a-Mil collaboration, Also Known As. While Nas only provided the hook on that track, it showed that Hit-Boy’s versatile production style could mesh well with Nas’ East Coast traditionalist rap approach, although it remains to be seen whether Hit’s production can bring enough energy out of the veteran rapper to carry a full project.
Earlier this year, Nas credited Big Sean with pressuring him to do another new album when the younger rapper put him “on blast” via an Instagram story post from the studio. Big Sean’s collaboration with Hit-Boy last year may have provided the catalyst, although Sean has been working on his own Detroit 2 comeback for even longer. Nas’ next project will be his second in recent years to employ one main producer, although the haphazard rollout for his Kanye West-produced Nasir — and Kelis’ accusations of domestic abuse — likely sapped some of the excitement for that album. Hopefully, this project with Hit-Boy returns the vet to his former glory.
The to-be-titled album from Nas and Hit-Boy is due 8/21 via Mass Appeal Records.