Ultra Black
by Nas

Album: King's Disease (2020)
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Songfacts®:

  • Produced by Hit-Boy, "Ultra Black" finds Nas rapping about his pride in Black culture. He kicks off the song by highlighting how different popular music genres originated within African-American communities.

    Rhythm and blues, pop, rock to soul to jazz
    'Til my toes are tagged
    How I look being told I'm not supposed to brag?


    The lyrics echo those on Nas' 2004 tribute to his jazz and blues musician father Olu Dara, "Bridging The Gap ."

    Bridging The Gap from the blues, to jazz, to rap
    The history of music on this track
  • Nas carries on reminding us of the many contributions made by the Black community in the entertainment industry including TV comedy shows, soaps, movies and models. During the second verse, Nas proclaims himself to be unapologetically pro-Black despite all the racism he encounters. He concludes the song by reminding us that the human race originated in Africa, so "no matter your race, to me, we all are black."
  • The song was released as the lead single from King's Disease. Traditionally, the "king's disease" refers to gout, a medical condition characterized by recurrent attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis, which is commonly associated with excessive consumption of meat, alcohol and fructose-sweetened drinks.

    "The title was King's Disease before this craziness happened," Nas told Zane Lowe regarding the killing of George Floyd by a white policeman. "Watching all the terror happening all over the country, I just felt the knee on my neck and I felt the knee on our people and I felt like I needed a pride moment. I needed a moment to be happy about our existence, to have made it so far, and all the things that we have done as a people."

    Nas added that this song is a celebration of Black American resilience amid institutionalized racism. "I box it all out and I think about, 'This is my message.' I hope everybody's okay. I hope they get it and feel what I'm saying," he said. "And not just the words, but the vibration, the energy I'm on with myself and how I want to give that back to people. It's just a feeling and it's not against anybody else. It's about inspiring one to have love of self regardless of what's happening around you, to you."
  • Nas raised some eyebrows with what appeared to be a poke at Doja Cat. The singer/rapper was accused of engaging in racist conversations in online chat rooms.

    We going Ultra Black
    Unapologetically Black
    The opposite of Doja Cat


    Nas claimed his diss was just a play on words. "I just was really saying a rhyme that rhymed with 'Ultra Black,'" he insisted to Los Angeles' Power 106. "I rhymed that word with 'ultra black,' I didn't even think of it. It's all love, it's all love, you know what I'm sayin'?"
  • The Spike Jordan-directed video celebrates Black empowerment. Both Hit-Boy and Gucci fashion designer Dapper Dan make cameo appearances.
  • Nas snagged his very first Grammy win when King's Disease won Best Rap Album at the 2021 awards. The MC had been nominated at the annual awards show 14 times, starting with a Best Rap Solo Performance nod in 1997 for "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)."

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