17 July 2012

Review: Nas - Life is good


With that being said..this album is of course..amazing. Nas is about to be in the Hip-Hop game for 20 years..this dude still makes sure his delivery stays pristine like he still 17. Life is good garnishes heavy production from No I.D. and Salaam Remi. No Premiere track though..this is a bit disappointing..but I guess I'll keep my fingers crossed for the Nas/Premiere album.

Nas starts off his 10th solo studio album (all of which have gone platinum except for Untitled I believe) with a powerful J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League track called interestingly enough..No Introduction. Nas takes us along a trip through his life: from being embarrassed because he had to get free lunch at PS 111..to syrup sandwiches and sugar water..to coppin his first gun at 15..to robbing a train at 16..and finally to being worth 200 mill surrounded by flat screens and Brazilians. It is almost impossible to tell us the story of your life and do it a different way every time..but this is how Nas continues to be relevant.

Loco-Motive is an old school feeling track with a heavy toned piano ominously playing over a simple hypnotic bass sound. Just another classic "trapped in the 90's" sound..the sound that gave Nas his loyal following. "A soldier coming home/ 20 years old/ with no legs/ saying there's no sense to cry and complain/ so go head."

Another No I.D. track is Accident Murderers featuring Rick Ross. I was definitely scared this would be his attempt at a radio friendly track..especially with Ross. But I must say Ross gave a good verse..and of course Nas keeps his lyrical stamina on brolic from beginning to end. Nas' most famous encounter with death came with the murder of his boy Ill Will.."for my [dude] that got killed/ got hit up/ vodka spills on the concrete/ light a swisha/ we miss ya". And do I hear an Illmatic reference..for Jerome's niece..who got shot in the dome piece (One Love uall...)? "and for that girl who never made it home/ shot in the dome/ how they gonna kill that beautiful sister?"

I think no song really captures the complexity of this "graphic classic song composer" like Daughters. 10 albums deep and Nas is still able to gives us a track that we have never heard before. Of course he is able to vividly paint a perfect picture (do yourself a favor..see the video..very well done) but that fact that he really has no topic that is off limits allows his listeners to connect with him in ways most artists-fans can't. Think this was one of the first leaks, so been listening to this for a min..I could really write a dissertation about it..but I won't..if you haven't heard it yet..do it now.

World's An Addiction features a soulful dark chorus from Anthony Hamilton (it's crazy but it has Michael Jackson's Who Is It vibe to me). Nas writes about hoodlums, guns and paddy wagons..to a billionaire who's into bestiality porn..to a surgeon who can't concentrate because his ex-wife cheated on him. This song tackles the word "addiction" in a such a different light than you expect. And the topics are definitely mature and complex.

The track Stay is a trumpet lined production from No I.D. where Nas shouts out the men doing right but warns them of money hungry women that want to break up a happy home. Later he admits he is seeing a women that has a man but decides to stay for the sex. The next verse Nas switches to the men who want to fight him but he realizes that the outcome would be death for one or both..so he chooses peace.

Cherry Wine has an amazing story behind the music. First is the uncanny synergy that these two virgos are able to accomplish (both were born on September 14th..Nas in '73 and Amy Winehouse in '83) on their first track together. Salaam Remi provides an almost period piece with this production..you can almost see the a 40's style lounge with Amy on a piano with her long gloves and cigarette with cigarette holder..Nas would be in the 3 piece suit of the day surrounded by cigarette girls (yes..I def hit up google for all of this). Amy has been described as an old soul trapped in a young body..this is what made her sound unique and great. Nas is more of the same..but his young appearance is contrasted with the fact that his experiences of a 40 year old man allow him to be at home in this track. There were talks of more tracks from these two musical prodigies..maybe even an entire album..but unfortunately this gem is what we have to be satisfied with.

Bye Baby is a bare-all track that Nas dedicates to his ex-wife Kelis. With his heart on his sleeve..Nas continues to question why they had to split. He recalls the good times..saying it was the highlight of his life..but of course it was not enough. Even though he lost half (money..soul..and heart) he has no regrets because at least he tried (in contrast to men that never wife their baby mamas) and because of the birth of his son..Knight. In the end this song feels like Nas' closure..it was an exhausting ride..with its highs and lows..but in the end Nas took the bitter with the sweet.

Overall this album has few sub-par tracks. One is the Swizz Beats track Summer On Smash. In my opinion it is unnecessary..I guess he wanted that club banger...but The Don is vastly superior in production/chorus/verses. But the good thing is that you get what you expect..another solid lyrical performance from Nas..with probably one of his better produced albums. I didn't review the bonus tracks..but be assured these are all fuego. It is all about evolution. Yes..Nas is still able to give us that grimy Illmatic verse that we still need..but also gives us Daughters. To juggle this duality for so long is commendable..and to do it so well is genius. 

I made a comment to my BITM fam a little bit ago. I was watching the Daily Show with my girl and her nieces..me and girl where laughing at the political/social jokes..and her younger nieces were lost/bored. I never realized before but shows like this are definitely for the older heads. In that same way I feel this album was made with his mature followers in mind (and I don't mean necessarily older..I probably have shirts older than our youngest BITM writer Ra'Z..but if uall don't know by now this kid is light years ahead of his peers). We all can appreciate that Nas has kept true to himself and his fan base. I don't see a millennial baby appreciating this..I hope I'm wrong though. 



  1. So I'm not the biggest fan of rap as in this genre ... If I were to purchase this album, where should I start on it?

  2. it really all depends on where you are in your hip-hop journey. the great thing about most nas albums is that he really provides such a great variety of styles to choose from. if you like that smooth/mature sound i would say CHERRY WINE. amy winehouse provides a superb chorus and nas makes his storytelling flow seamlessly between her hooks. that with STAY and DAUGHTERS i think would satisfy any hip-hop head who prefers a nice contracts to that radio hip-pop. if you want a good wild out sound go with THE DON..it bumps great in a car too. and if your an old-school connoisseur id go with LOCO-MOTIVE and NASTY. hope this helps..thanks to keeping up with BITM!