This album begins with a bang. A litany of imagery -- "scarred grills," "gaspy fullies" -- cascades just before rap's reigning lyrical wizard rhymes "pure euphoria" with "death to all of y'all" and declares war on the "snitches in rap" who get "tails snapped." On the 16 subsequent tracks, there are searing polemics ("Hip-Hop is Dead"), allegories wrapped in Bogart impressions ("Who Killed It") and epic collaborations ("Black Republicans"). It's a majestic spell of cynical bile, with Nas trying to stave off the demons with rose-tinted visions of rap's genesis. In other words: another masterpiece.