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How Nas Discovered The Unknown Cure To King's Disease

On the cover of I Am, Nas is reimagined as the famous Pharaoh Tutankhamun aka King Tut. Ironically, the decision to transform Nas into the youngest pharaoh of all time almost ended his reign as hip-hop's most important lyricist prematurely. As Nas was confirming his evolution from a boy, to a man, and ultimately—to a King (see his first 3 album covers for evidence), Esco was nearly suffocated to death when clay became unexpectedly trapped in his nose. Luckily, for the future generations of his lineage that will reap the benefits of his shrewd business moves and millions of listeners that appreciate timeless lyrics, hip-hop's protector survived his close encounter with death. And now, Nas' current age mirrors hip hop's trips around the sun (both are approaching 50 years of life).

As fate would have it, not only did Nas emerge from the I Am cover shoot unfazed, but QB's finest has proven—that in 2022, the flame from the Hate Me Now video is still burning as bright as the bush that spoke to Moses. To fully grasp and understand the subtle remedies that Nas has shared with his audience regarding how to best combat King's Disease (the complacency, bad health and selfishness that typically sprouts from the seeds of wealth), we must first examine the central themes that have always been present throughout his illustrious career. Nas' optimism regarding acquiring riches fit for a king has been present since he first uttered, "that buck that bought a bottle could've struck the lotto." His thoughts on riches can also be heard on Nas Is Like when he eloquently questions the true worth of earthly riches that you can't take with you when you die, and the inevitable endgame of someone excavating the earth to rob your tomb after you are no longer here. While Nas' plan to acquire wealth has always been a priority per his lyrics, he's also made it abundantly clear that the quest for material possessions will never supersede his desire to be revered like Donny Hathaway.

Let's take a closer look at the central themes that have always been present in Nas' music and how he's managed to crystalize the cure to King's Disease during this remarkable run with Hit-Boy.

First and foremost Esco has consistently emphasized that we are the master of our own fate. He expresses this sentiment on his first album via the triumphant, The World Is Yours and again on the Untitled album when he reiterates to listeners, "You are the Slave and the Master." On every album that Nas has released, there's an acknowledgement that there's power in words and that the universe responds to us speaking things into existence. My favorite passage regarding this philosophy of thinking is:

"I'm somewhat of a psychic

Just one minute after it's heard,

You all excited, you all repeat it,

So call me a genius, if you didn't,

Now that I said it, I force you to think it"

Just as Nas has always encouraged his listeners to speak good health and wealth into existence, he's also warned Black men to think about the consequences of their actions, especially as it pertains to respecting the lives of their fellow Black men. The violence and despair that resided outside of building 40-16, likely gave Nas the power to imagine himself as a gun that was created to kill Black men, but instead of relishing in the idea of harming a brother, Nas decided to give the gun a conscience that was tired of killing Black men, hence its decision to, "jam right in his owner's hand." Way back in 1996, Nas was wise enough to realize that Black men won't have an opportunity to grow to be Kings unless we learn to resolve our conflicts and disagreements peacefully. Kid Wave's perspective on violence and the importance of conflict resolution skills isn't just limited to music. Nas' interactions with his peers, has shown time and time again—that he's willing to bring beef full circle by embracing peace instead of violence.

With such a storied career and many unsaid conversations that Nas never got to have with legends he had minor musical skirmishes with (Biggie and 2Pac), Nas' perspective on the importance of resolving conflicts is on full display again on the exceptional prequel to I Gave You Power, titled Beef. Throughout his career, Esco has shared bits and pieces of moments that he wish he could have back. If I'm not mistaken, Nas, previously mentioned that while Biggie was in California, they were both at the Beverly Center Mall at the same time, but they didn't speak to each other. After missing out on that final opportunity to speak to one another in California, Esco acknowledged that he missed Biggie's wake not because he's fake, but because he had so much to say, that he had to put it in writing—to keep him and Brooklyn from fighting.

The Notorious B.I.G.'s passing had such an immense impact on Nas that he has consistently reiterated his appreciation for Frank White by either mentioning him or paying homage to him on a litany of songs (see We Will Survive, Last Real N Alive, Beef, It Never Ends and Get Light). On Wu For the Children Nas admits that he wish he would have hopped on the remix for Gimmie Da Loot. Imagine QB's Finest and the King of Brooklyn on the same track back then (chills)! While Nas uses his music to communicate his respect and love for artists such as 2Pac and Biggie, he uses his voice and actions to quickly show listeners that a public disagreement or misunderstanding doesn't have to result in beef. Look at how quietly he resolved issues with Jeezy in the mid 2000s and how quickly he collobarated with 21 Savage when the media and fans were actively fanning the flames of beef.

In 1994, Kid Wave graced the cover of Illmatic as a young boy which mirrors the approximate age that King Tut began his reign. Could you imagine being deemed the ruler of a group of people at such a young age and the immense pressure that comes with unrealistic expectations? While Nas wasn't 9 or 10 when his reign as hip-hop's preeminent emcee began, he was only 17/18 when rap fans decided he was the golden child as Ghostface Killah proclaimed. When fans decided that Nas was the only worthy emcee that Rakim could pass the baton of lyrical brilliance to, our assumption was that he might have a nice 2-4 album run and then it would be time for Kid Wave to ride off into the sunset and pass the baton to the next Nas. Well, Esco had other plans. He unapologetically rejected the notion that there would ever be another Nas and has decided that not only is he the best of all time, but that he's the illest rhymer in 2022. During the first decade of Nas' career, he achieved something that has never been seen, he became the underground favorite courtesy of Illmatic and then transcended to forever being overground by delivering a classic that was commercially viable via It Was Written. As he stated on King's Disease 3, "I'm underground and overground, and it's never been seen,"

Recently, MC Serch confirmed that Nas has been rich since the release of It Was Written. With critical acclaim and millions of dollars in the bank since 1996, one would naturally expect that Esco would have no choice, but to fall victim to King's Disease at some point—right???

King's Disease is known as the rich man's disease. It's when we reach what we deem to be our apex in life and become complacent. If any artist has earned the right to become complacent, it would be Nas. There's no reason in the world that an artist that has crafted great music since 1992 should be able to find the motivation and time to give hip hop fans the great music that has emerged from this run with the incredible producer known as Hit-Boy. Put yourself in Nas shoe's, if you were a revered emcee with millions that could last several life times, would you be more interested in reveling in your riches or proving that there truly is a cure for King's Disease? So what's the cure for King's Disease? Well the emcee that discovered the hidden cure closes out Don't Shoot, by telling us, "You are your own cure for your King's Disease. You gotta look inside to cure that. You got all the answers."

With success comes newfound fears, complacency and a bevy of internal issues that no one else can fix or address for you. As you achieve and reach heights that no one expects you to reach, will you revel in your riches and fall victim to rich man's disease or will push yourself to do the impossible? Find a cure.

Nas' cure to King's Disease is clearly what's in his heart. Music.

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