Life’s a bitch for Nas fans. Keep reading…
Here’s the thing. Nas is arguably one of the most honest artists ever. With every release, he lets us inside of his complicated mind and heart, and we get a glimpse of who he is and what his thoughts are on the world at the time. Lyrically, there’s never a problem. When there is an issue, it’s always a production issue: Nas has, at times, picked beats that were, if not flat out bad, not fitting for him.But, he has gotten better. 2008′s “Nas” and 2010′s “Distant Relatives” with Damian Marley were both great from a production standpoint. The former, while produced better overall than some of Nas’s work, wasn’t a home run, so to speak. In the last couple of years, Nas has been through a lot, with his divorce from Kelis, and the whole child support thing. Add to that his recent run-in with the IRS, and one can safely say that Nas has had a rough couple years. Not to worry though, life is still good for Nas, and his 10th studio album has arrived to reassure us.
From jump, Nasty Nas comes out swinging over the Justice League helmed “No Introduction.” The beat is epic and Nas spits verses from the heart about what’s going on in his life, and partially for closure from his failed relationship. He jumps on at the 42nd Street Terminal for “Loco-Motive.” Dedicated to his “trapped in the 90′s niggas,” this track has the gritty feel of New York City, and with Large Professor in tow, the tone couldn’t be more set. He jumps off and tells the Queens story, which sounds like a Lalo Schifrin score on wax. Nas is flawless here. No I.D. provides the backdrop for “Accident Murderers,” as Nas and the bawse Ricky Ross tell vivid street tales of innocent bystanders and the mentality of street dudes.
“Daughters” shows a mature Nas. While he’s still the same dude he’s always been, his beloved daughter, Destiny, is a teenage girl now, dealing with the world she lives in. It all comes a shock to Nas, but he paints the imperfect picture perfectly. A Nas album wouldn’t seem complete without some New York flavor mixed in. No worries, Mary J. Blige stops by for “Reach Out,” which has a complete NYC throwback feel, and Swizz Beatz checks in alongside Miguel for “Summer on Smash,” which is impressive in its own right, because it feels like it could fit in right at home on the radio, but it still somehow feels like vintage Nas. We all know that his attempts at radio hits have, well, you know. “The Don” still sounds as fresh here as it did upon release as the lead single. Shouts go out to Da Internz for adding the magic touch to the Heavy D/Salaam Remi joint to make it the smash it became (credit goes to all three as producers on the song). “Stay” is a jazz-infused jam that’s as easy as Sunday morning. The anticipated Amy Winehouse collab “Cherry Wine” doesn’t disappoint, but it is sad to hear, considering that it’ll be one of the last times we hear her on a new recording. The epilogue comes in “Bye Baby,” which serves as the final goodbye to his relationship over a classic Guy sample. Surprisingly, Nas doesn’t regret doing it, in fact, he seems ready to go down that road again if it ever comes to that.
With Life Is Good,” Nas has shot down any doubts that he’s lost it. At 40, he sounds polished and on top of his game. The production on this LP is perfect throughout, and Mr. Jones has released, so far, THE hip-hop album of the year.