Razor Tongue Media

The Young Take On
Nas's King's Disease

The young take is a new feature where we have a young writer offer their insight on an important album whether that be current or from rap’s history.  

Teenagers like me have grown up with hip hop music, from vibing to The Black Eyed Peas to witnessing the creation of mega artists like Drake and Nicki Minaj. By 2016, hip hop music and dances had quickly become mainstream for our generation, in part due to the growing popularity of social media, streaming services, and video outlets like Tik Tok. However, for some of us youngsters, rap means something different than it does to our older counterparts. Due to the success of creators like Lil Peep, Future, and Lil Uzi Vert, it’s safe to say that rap has changed immensely, becoming a broader genre than what it once was. Hip Hop holds a powerful influence over this generation, but rarely do we see popular artists of our time speak up about issues that are relevant to us or be vulnerable with their audiences. Nas’s King’s Disease offers that vulnerability and social awareness that some kids from my generation have been craving for from a popular artist. 


Produced by Hit-Boy, Nas’s new album King’s Disease caters to old and new school hip hop listeners, by offering reflections on career, relationship, and social issues throughout its entirety. The project’s lyrics and wordplay make this a refreshing piece to listen to because of how he uses his artistry to talk about issues that many artists today don’t acknowledge such as colourism, systemic racism, and domestic abuse. Nas has been around for a long time and is a renowned hip-hop artist mainly for being a lyrical mastermind. His debut album, Illmatic, is considered a hip hop classic 26 years later. However, it feels as though the newer generation is unaware of the impact of his music. This can make him seem non-relevant to my generation because of our focus on content from newer artists and the ones we’re already familiar with. However, King’s Disease deserves a closer look for all the right reasons so let’s look at some of my personal favourites from the new album; “Ultra Black”, “The Definition”, and “King’s Disease”. 

“Ultra Black” was written out of the pain that Nas felt after decades of police brutality against Black people in the US. Nas said in an Apple Music interview that this song is to celebrate being black, saying “A moment to be happy, to be happy of our existence”. This song touches various aspects of black history and African culture that he addresses as prideful moments for Black communities in America. In current times, with the Black community facing many political issues in addition to the lack of accurate portrayal in mainstream media, “Ultra Black” is meant to uplift the black community by recognizing and appreciating their culture. 

“The Definition” is by far my favourite song from the entire album. I say so because like many students my age,  I am passionate about social justice reform. This song perfectly captures the systemic oppression black people face in America, something we have been watching with disgust.

“Unethical ways put you in prison, try to roof you

Our youth is dead to us/ they called us superpredators”

Nas here is talking about mass incarceration during the ’80s where Black men were imprisoned with unreasonably long sentences for petty crime. During this time, many US politicians came out stereotyping Black men as dangerous and used this for their political agendas. As many worldwide are hard at work on dismantling such stereotypes and policies, this song is more relevant to us now more than ever. 

Last but not least, in “King’s Disease”, the lyrics are reflective of his intrapersonal relationship. “King’s Disease”, also known as rich man’s disease can be meant to show that most of the time the issues that push us off of our throne or path can come from within. Through “Kings Disease” he also sends a message that we’ve all got problems but it’s how we look back and deal with them:

“Jealousy keeps blossoming, ain’t let it box me in (King) 

‘Cause you are not a king if you can’t come out a thing 

That you got yourself in, claiming nobody helping” 

Nas’s words go to show that ego and jealousy are enough to stray you from your throne but the fact that these issues come from within makes them even more dangerous because at that point no one can save you but yourself. 

“You could’ve made it (You was good), look at all the time wasted 

Now you gotta retract statements, shoulda stuck to the basics 

All you had to do was tell the truth, like, fuck all the fake shit 

You should want every brother to make it out” 

In all honesty, Nas’s King’s Disease was like a breath of fresh air from the content which is dominantly directed at my age group. Nas uses his artistic platform to educate and reach out to his audiences by conveying relevant themes that we’re concerned about and allows us a chance to find deeper meaning in his lyrics. Not only does he talk about racial inequality with “The Definition,” but he also uplifts Black men and women through “Ultra Black,” while talking about his relationship with himself and others through “Replace Me” and “King’s Disease.” Instead of flexing his fame, fortune, or the women in his life, he shows vulnerability and that is exactly what sets King’s Disease apart from recent albums created by artists of my generation. Overall, Nas’s King’s Disease feels heartfelt, relatable, and will have you resonating with the lyrics no matter how many times you go back and listen to them.

Sanjana Srivastava is 17 years old from Ontario, Canada, and in her last year of high school. She’s looking forward to being a policy analyst for the Canadian government. She is passionate about social justice and volunteers for nonprofit organizations outside of school. She’s also an avid reader and dancer in her free time.

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