Nas and Hit-Boy’s King’s Disease series was a star-studded affair across its first two installments, with guest appearances from Hip Hop heavyweights like Eminem, Lauryn Hill and Big Sean. But on King’s Disease 3, which arrived last week, the Queensbridge MC opted against sharing the mic and instead occupied the spotlight on his own.
During a recent interview with Apple Music’s Rap Life Review, Hit-Boy explained the reason behind the lack of features on the album. The multi-platinum producer revealed he had numerous artists in mind for the project and actually tested out guest vocals that he had in his stash, but ultimately he and Nas didn’t feel they were on par with what they were crafting as a two-man team.
“Honestly, it was once we got deeper into the album because I definitely was thinking and conceptualizing on who could be a part of it,” he said. “I even pulled up some features that I had in my computer from different artists and we tried stuff, but nothing really connected on a level of what we was doing solo. This is, I believe, Nas’ first album ever with no features so that’s an ill thing in itself.”
Nas has technically released an album with no features in the past — his 2002 compilation The Lost Tapes — but when it comes to his official studio output, his 1994 debut Illmatic is the closest he’s come, with AZ delivering the sole guest verse on the album.
He later bragged about the fact on his 2001 track “Got Ur Self a Gun,” rapping: “My first album had no famous guest appearances / The outcome: I’m crowned the best lyricist.”
King’s Disease 3 wasn’t a completely solo affair, though, as Hit-Boy’s two-year-old son recorded background vocals for a handful of songs including “Once a Man, Twice a Child.”
Nas isn’t the only prominent rapper to go it alone in recent years. J. Cole famously went “platinum with no features” with 2014’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive, 2016’s 4 Your Eyez Only and 2018’s 4 Your Eyez Only, before embracing his collaborative side on the Dreamville compilation Revenge of the Dreamers III and his 2021 solo effort The Off-Season.
21 Savage, who has come under fire this week for his comments about Nas’ cultural relevancy, also recently bragged about selling a million units solo dolo with his 2017 LP Issa Album.
Elsewhere in his Apple Music interview, Hit-Boy shared his immediate reaction to Nas’ lyrics about his past beef with JAY-Z on the King’s Disease 3 cut “Thun,” on which he rapped about sending texts to Hov joking that their feud “ain’t over”
“We’re really trying to impress ourselves [in the studio] so it’s times where he’ll say something and I’ll just look at him like, ‘Nah, you didn’t just say that bro! What is going on?!’” he recalled. “That was one of them, for sure. I was like, ‘You know that’s finna go real viral as soon as it drops?’”
The HS87 hitmaker dismissed the notion that the lines were anything more than friendly competition. “Nah, them dudes, they homies,” he added. “It’s just, like, a play on [their rivalry] and paying homage to that moment. You know, they had one of the biggest beefs of all time in Hip Hop so it’s just poking fun and having fun with it.”
Hit-Boy also named his personal favorite songs from KD3 — “Beast,” “Michael & Quincy” and the Mary J. Blige-sampling “Reminisce” — while addressing the prospect of him and Nas recording a fourth King’s Disease album.
“Haha! Yo, that’s funny. I told Nas, I was like, ‘Watch, as soon as it drops, we gon’ get asked about KD4,’” he said. “I don’t know, bro. We just working and Nas, obviously, he doing everything that he doing, and I’m a producer still for a lot of other people so we’ll see what happens, but we just enjoying KD3 right now.”