Released on November 11th, 2022, KD3 is the third and final album of NasKing’s Disease trilogy, which kicked off in 2020 and has been executively produced by Hit-Boy since its start. Arguably his best work of the three acclaimed albums, its immediate success has finally tied Nas with Jay-Z for most Billboard Top 10 albums by a rapper.

The album succeeds at reminding us of all the reasons Nas is one of the greats, not only because of his lyrics and messages, but also for the transportive quality of his music. Rapping “my old style is a rough of my new style” (“Once a Man, Twice a Child”), Nas also asks his listeners to remember the “First Time” they heard his music—always staying close to his roots and start in the hip hop game (which, he reminds us, was nearly “30” years ago.) Call-backs to Nas’ NY start in Queens, as well as different musical giants—Havoc, Starkim, E Money Bags, Grandmasta Vicis, Mary J. Blige, Slick Rick, and G Rap, to name a few—set up the album as coming from “the last of the kings” (“Ghetto Reporter”). KD3 is, put simply, real delivering to real. 

With no featured artists on any of Nas’ tracks—for the first time in 20 years—KD3 is a conversation between Nas and Hit-Boy. There is no doubt the two have fantastic chemistry, which they use to propel the album’s underlying ideas. HB’s beats and samples match the rapper’s famous lyricism perfectly, helping to bring us back further to Nas’ original sound, and the scene he grew up in. Beginning with a sample from 1991’s “The Five Heartbeats,” a movie focused on R&B legends, the album’s second track “Legit,” drives this point home. The track “Michael & Quincy” goes as far as to compare their partnership to the late Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones: 

“Like Quincy on the trumpet, Hit-Boy on a drum kit
Nasty like Mike on the vocals, I overdub it (Shamone)”

By situating himself in hip hop’s history, Nas shows he is a voice to be listened to, by old and young listeners alike. He raps about issues relevant still relevant in 2022, but keeps his old sound alongside HB, tying in stories and emotions from his start to the current climate (even using young ‘text talk’ in “WTF SMH”). This makes it impossible not to connect the two eras and see that, like Nas, this King’s Disease—defined by Nas in 2020 as “rich man disease”—has stood the test of time.

KD3 is meant to be a lesson to those who have come after Nas; he wants them to learn from his mistakes, from his late friends, from his evolution. After all, Nas is not immune to this lifestyle, and has been swept up in rivalries before, rapping in “Ghetto Reporter” that “most of us catch it [the King’s Disease] at one point or another.” Similarly, in “Reminisce,” he offers up “the things that shaped me: the streets, the beef, the beats.” 

Right on the nose in “Beef,” Nas, using his typical metaphorical style, personifies everything he is imploring others to move past:


Beef is my name, my story is age old


Jealousy and envy my right hands


I'm the words that get misinterpreted


Rumors turnin' into a monster, lies always mislead

By the time you hear what somebody said, it's stretched out

Far from nagging, or berating, Nas knows the struggle, and wishes to use his music to uplift and show others they can beat their affliction—their affinity towards money, jealousy, lust, greed and violence—in order to come together and provide a united front. Having lived through the consequences his whole life, both for himself and his community, Nas reminds his listeners that, above all, ‘beef’ twists reality and distances us from what is important. His plea for a different future is perhaps most apparent in “Thun:”

Brothers can do anything when they decide to


The future of our next generation ain't been established

Conflicted by some of the same patterns that had us

Money and social status, tell me what really matters

Overall, the album encapsulates what Nas has been trying to convey throughout the entire trilogy. Throughout KD3, he is very clear that this King’s Disease is a worldwide affliction, causing most destruction and wars, but also just as apparent in daily conversations and ‘innocent’ behaviour. “Don’t Shoot” is a perfect example. The track’s title is reminiscent of decades of police brutality against the Black community, which Nas ties into intra-community violence easily, asking for a lowering of the guns and an ear to listen to his message:

Don't shoot gangsters (Don't shoot gangsters)

Don't shoot (Give me some)

Don't shoot, gangster (Don't shoot gangsters)

You are him (You are him), and he is you (And hе is you) 


You are your own cure for your King's Disease

You gotta look inside to cure that

You got all the answers

Imagine no man shot for the next ten years

No man killed for the next thirty years

Think about how much we will attain

Packed tight with old school beats and samples, this new album is inarguably nostalgic—but, above all else, it is Nas’ observation of today’s society through a wiser lens, and a hopeful look towards the future.