One of rap’s biggest sins is that Nas and J Dilla, both equally regarded as two of the greatest to ever do it, never got the chance to work together before the celebrated Detroit producer died in 2006. Now, thanks to a bit of sampling magic, Nas has finally laid his pristine Nasty Nas bars over a Dilla beat—this one being “Gobstopper” from Dilla’s acclaimed 2006 album Donuts—in a new song called “The Season.” Nas first teased the song last night during a Run the Jewels in-store appearance at Rough Trade NYC and, now, we have the official studio recording to feast our ears on.
Nas has been having a busy year between taking ownership of Mass Appeal Records and releasing his Time Is Illmatic documentary to commemorate 20 years since his debut album, but this is his only new song of 2014 so far and his first single since 2012’s excellent Life Is Good. And it showcases Nas at the top of his game: Here he delivers the kind of lyrically taut verses he’s built his legacy on (“Nas and Dilla beat, the fly soliloquy/ Some real nigga talkin’/ This don’t happen too often, take precaution”) while shutting down all those ghost writing rumors (“Jay Elec doesn’t write it/ Hov couldn’t write it—he vacationin’ ”) and paying respect to Dilla’s hometown—even sharing an entertaining picture of him and Madonna in the studio.
There’s no word yet on when Nas’ next album might arrive—or if this track will even appear on it—but Nas’ “the season of Nasir” declaration certainly indicates there’s something larger in the works. For now, we’ll just have to play “The Season” on repeat, and that’s fine by me. Like Nas says, “The soulful sample complements [his] rhyme so well.”