Throughout the last dozen years, Nas and Rick Ross have collaborated many times, usually on Rozay’s albums. The South Florida rapper is clearly inspired by Nas—an artist whose many gifts include detailed imagery, and a knack for blending street exploits with quote-worthy wisdom.
Fresh off of last year’s stellar “Powers That Be” from Ross’ Rather You Than Me, one of music’s hottest producers brings the two entities back together. Mike WiLL Made It is at the helm for the just-released Creed II soundtrack. The Eardruma Records compilation includes appearances from Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, ScHoolboy Q, Lil Wayne, Vince Staples, and countless others. Following Black Panther soundtrack at the top of the year, another Interscope Records flagship artist is working to make music companions to films feel like an event again, especially in Rap.
Nas and Ross’ “Check” measures up as a highlight. The song plays into the training, fighting, and competitive themes of the film. The chorus sees Nas spitting, “Yo, you ain’t standin’ on your word, you lose respect / Man up, check, chest out, check / Chin up, check, discipline, check.” The Queens legend begins his verse, “Picture what your opponent is thinking inside the square / This is like chess, strategize in the ring / He try’na be a father, but he lost his father to the same thing,” before getting to, “Try to take my last breath, my air, had to check my fear / That’s why they respect Nasir, feel me? / Y’all witnessin’ what you never seen / Needin’ nothing attracts everything, the resurrection of a king.”
On his part, Double-R drips trademark couplets such as “Born to be a boss, so nail me to the holy cross.” In looking at his own rise to power in the mid-2000s, Rick revisits decisions made and avoiding pitfalls. Making it in Rap and standing in the boxing ring can be a lot alike. The production, from Mike WiLL and Blue Cheeze, differ from a lot of the hit-maker’s usual stuff. Ross compares the songs to Quentin Tarantino (presumably alluding to Kill Bill) with a song that has Wild West gun-fighting vibes. The strings come in on the important lines too, adding that extra touch.
Yesterday (November 15), Nas released a short film to his 2018 album, NASIR.