Anchored by a hard-hitting, Smokey Robinson-sampling beat from Hit-Boy, the aptly-titled “Never Die” hears Esco and Weezy showcasing their age-less lyrical talents on what some fans (and even rappers) are hailing as their finest joint effort yet.
“We ain’t gon never die, icons in real time/ Why did I wait this long to let y’all in my ill mind?” Nas begins his opening verse.
The Queensbridge native then toasts to his longevity by calling himself both the “new N.Y.” and “old N.Y.,” and compares himself to Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James when it comes to delivering in the clutch.
In addition to namedropping Pooh Shiesty, Malcolm X and Tom Cruise, Nas also compares himself and Wayne to a classic ’90s rap group, spitting: “The brand new Brand Nubians, N-A-S and Wayne/ Don’t threaten me with a good time, we’re here to stay.”
After a brief breather, the bars-fest continues as Lil Wayne picks up the baton and proceeds to spit a dazzling guest verse packed with slick wordplay and internal rhymes, not to mention the swagger of an almost 25-year veteran.
“Why everybody like wine? Nobody flow like mine/ I’m sonnin’ these n-ggas, got me coachin’ n-ggas like Prime/ Tongue, I never bite mine, got dough like Taekwon’/ To spend all this money, I’ma have to spend a lifetime,” he raps.
After nods to JAY-Z’s “99 Problems” and Zion Williamson’s famous appetite, the Young Money honcho brings it home by declaring: “Low credit, high crime, open mind, tight rhymes/ When they hear my lines, these rappers gotta catch up like Heinz/ Weezy and my slime Nas, ain’t nobody like us/ Like bygones, gotta let icons be icons, hi moms.”
“Lil Wayne went crazy on this Nas/Hitboy album [fire emojis],” L.A. rapper Problem tweeted shortly after the song’s release, while The Cool Kids’ Chuck Inglish wrote: “Wayne over cooked that verse for Nas. Me and @SirMichaelRocks trying to figure out if there has been a better guest verse. I’ll fight. @Hit_Bo you a diff type of n-gga dog.”
“Nas & Lil Wayne both snapped on this. Love seeing two legends come together & deliver great music,” another user gushed, while someone else compared them to Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal in their Los Angeles Lakers prime.
“Never Die” marks Nas and Lil Wayne’s fifth collaboration following Busta Rhymes’ “Don’t Touch Me (Remix),” Rich Boy’s “Ghetto Rich (Remix),” “My Generation” from Nas and Damian Marley’s Distant Relatives and Wayne’s Tha Carter IV outro.
The pair haven’t been shy in giving each other their flowers over the years, with Nas including Wayne in his Top 5 “new generation” rappers during an interview with REVOLT in 2016.
As for Magic 3, Esco’s latest album arrived on streaming services on Thursday night (September 14) coinciding with his 50th birthday. Lil Wayne is the sole guest feature, while the project is produced entirely by Hit-Boy, much like the rest of the series.
Magic 3 actually serves as Nas and Hit-Boy’s final album together, concluding a prolific, Grammy-winning run that has seen them release six albums together in three years — with King’s Disease being their other trilogy.
“I want to thank everyone for taking this ride with @hitboy & I. It’s been nothing short of Magical!” the Illmatic MC wrote on Instagram when announcing the album earlier this week. “Forever Grateful, Enjoy!!”
Hit-Boy added in his own Instagram post: “The final Nas and Hit-Boy album Magic 3. Just know we gave it our all. tbh we haven’t taken much time from working on music together since we linked in 2020.
“We tap in daily to work or just to chop it or every other day at least i would say.. having this type of musical bond with an artist of this caliber is a producers dream.”
He continued: “I want to thank Nas for taking in my ideas and embracing them and me. you can’t force this type of energy. i’m right here whenever forever bro!!”
Stream Magic 3 in full below: