Nas decided to bless us with the third project in the "Magic" series, only two months after the 2nd one. Honestly, when I saw he released the 3rd installment in the series yesterday, I was skeptical to say the least. I was really afraid that Nas is going with the classic "quantity over quality" approach, and I was slightly right.
Well, this is far from being one of the best Nas albums of the past couple of years. I would even argue that it's the weakest project in the "Magic" series. Does this mean that Nas is officially old? he's done? overrated? No. It's a solid album, and Nas is still a compelling rapper, but he needs to shake things up in my opinion.
On the album Nas and his beloved producer Hit-Boy are teaming up once again. I personally loved the production on the second installment in the series more, however the production here is still solid. Hit-Boy's sample use is quite great most of the time, the beats are hard-hitting and engaging and they compliment Nas well. Although the production on some tracks did feel slightly lackluster and simply not very memorable.
Nas is still on the top of his game (for the most part). One thing I have to give him credit for, is how damn hungry he is. You can clearly hear the hunger and the passion in his flows, vocal delivery and attitude. His lyricism is quite great, with clever wordplays, creative rhymes and interesting topics most of the time. However, at times I found the lyrics to be a bit corny and underwhelming, on tracks such as Blue Bentley and Pretty Young Girl.
Now, for my main criticism of the album. It's nothing new, and I felt like I've heard Nas rapping on these types of beats and topics for decades now. It was a criticism of mine on Magic 2, but it's even a bigger issue here for me. Magic 2 was at least more consistent in terms of performances, productions and the overall quality of the songs.
On Magic 3, while it's still a solid project, this issue feels more relevant. I think Hit-Boy and Nas can genuinely release 10 more albums exactly like this and they will be just fine, because they do have good chemistry between them. But god damn, maybe get out of your comfort zones just a little bit, bring something new to the table. He is obviously still hungry and passionate, so I wish he would express this passion in trying new things.
What are exactly new things? Different production styles, more creative song topics, or most importantly, a more ambitious album from front to back. This album doesn't feel ambitious enough. Nas and Hit-Boy stayed in their comfort zone, and while it's a decent album, they can do much better in my opinion.
Overall, although Magic 3 is still a solid album from Nas, it's most likely the weakest installment in the Magic series. Decent and enjoyable tracks, but nothing to go head over heels for.
Favorite: Fever, I Love This Feeling, Never Die, Based on True Events, Based on True Events, Pt. 2, Sitting with My Thoughts
Least favorite: Blue Bentley