With over 20 years in the rap game and this being his 10th album, Nas returns to the pinnacle of the hip hop industry with his sixth No.1 album Life is Good. Fans have often complained over his selection of poor beats that don’t match or overload his intelligent wordplay. However with Life is Good there can be no complaints; the mix is just right! With the help of NO I.D. and Salaam Remi the album blends the perfect balance of traditional and contemporary production.
Quite simply, Life is Good is one of the best lyrical rap albums of the decade and is a refreshing listen in the current simple-chorus/lack of substance climate of hip hop albums. After recently going through a rough period following his much publicised divorce with singer Kelis and his IRS issues over millions in unpaid taxes, it seems Nas is following trend by turning adversity in his life into classic albums. Which had been the case famously with his Stillmatic and God’s Son albums, which came after he was written off as a ‘one hot album every ten year average’ artist during his Jay Z feud and the latter after the death of his mother.
Whilst previously Nas has been known for his lyrical prowess from depicting the story of a lifespan of a gun to flipping a tale in reverse, in Life is Good his impeccable wordplay is used introspectively to reveal the intricacies of recent struggles in his life. The opening track No Introduction acts as a manifesto to how he lays his life out over the course of the album
“The tales you hear is the truth on me/Who wasn’t the most faithful husband/Reveal my life, you’ll forgive me/You will love me, hate me, judge me, relate to me.”
On the next track Loco-Motive, a hypnotic NO ID produced cut paying homage to Nas’s 90’s rap roots, Nas continues this transparency.
“I know you think my life is good cause my diamond piece/ But my life been good since I started finding peace/ I shouldn’t even be smiling I should be angry and depressed/I been rich longer than I been broke, I confess/I started out broke, got rich, lost paper then made it back
Nas then follows with his ode to Queens on A Queens Story which features a crazy last verse and the killer collaboration with Rick Ross (the only rap guest on the album) on Accident Murderers. On Daughters’ Nas perfectly captures the protective relationship a father has with their daughter and reveals some of the shortcomings he has as a father. The track is a perfect blend of conscious lyrics in a contemporary beat and is strong testament of how talented of a songwriter Nas is.
The inclusion of Summer on Smash was definitely for the commercial radio masses but fits well as an easy to listen to summer anthem with a catchy beat. One of the stand out tracks of the album is Cherry Wine which features the late Amy Winehouse, giving the track some soulful nostalgia in which Nas raps about his longing for true love. After which on Bye Baby he showcases his famous story telling skills by narrating the tale of his marriage to Kelis and coming to terms with their divorce. The album really does play well from start to finish but other noticeable mentions are the upbeat collaboration with Mary J Blige on Reach Out, the epic Back When and the high energy The Don.
With Life is Good providing enough tracks to occupy you till the release of the G.O.O.D Music collaboration album…life and music does seem good this summer. Cop Nas: Life Is Good on iTunes now: