Magic 2

Magic 2

If, at any point over the past three decades, Nas’ status was ever in question, his 2020s run with Hit-Boy shut down any and all such speculation. The Queensbridge-bred rapper earned his spot in the GOAT debate well before the critically acclaimed and award-winning King’s Disease dropped in 2020, and the full-length sequels to that album only strengthened his position, not to mention his already legendary pen. Yet when Magic dropped on Christmas Eve 2021, listeners felt the difference. This was Nasir Jones operating on a decidedly different vibe, rapping for the love of it for a half hour straight over some of his go-to producer’s most gratifying beats. A sort of modern-day parallel to his archival Lost Tapes compilation, Magic 2 serves his fans with a veteran’s ear and a dexterous flow. “Abracadabra” offers a rigorous recap of this era of his career, nodding back to his past while marveling at it all. He pulls off a Queens coup with the homegrown “Office Hours,” reuniting with 50 Cent on record for the first time in some 20 years. Hit-Boy’s instrumentals vary between the understated chill of “Black Magic” and the melodic boom-bap revival of “Pistols on Your Album Cover.” The closing bonus of “One Mic, One Gun” with 21 Savage feels less like a victory lap than a leveling up.

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