Nas returns here with his best album since Illmatic and one of the best albums of the year. Now as a big Nas fan, for me it will be hard to ever top the Illmatic and this album although very good, does not do so. Don't let that put you off though, as this album is a turning point for Nas and after a few mediocre albums over the last few years has proved that he still one of the best rappers in the game.
The main subject matter revolves around his relatively recent divorce from singer Kelis and he has made a conscience effort to go back to his style from his early albums. His rapping had become slightly more commercial lets put it, and I for one never thought he would go back to this sort of rapping. Old school beats with the Nas swerve from Illmatic. I heard someone else say that this has a very nostalgic feel to it and I couldn't describe it better myself. As usual I will review my favourite tracks from the album.
Life is Good
The first track I heard from the album, and the moment I knew Nas was back with a bang. It features Mary J Blige who is as great as ever. Vocally she is excellent and nails the hooks whilst Nas nails the flows in the raps. It is the catchiest track on the album and very upbeat. The lyrics are also very thought provoking and he talks about how rich he is which makes it hard to maintain his routes. Also he spits another awesome liar, about how it's awkward that he has become greater than the legends he grew up looking to. I highly recommend youtubing this track.
This track stands out the most as it features the late Amy Winehouse. They recorded it a couple of years ago and it is great to hear Amy's voice again. I can't say I was her biggest fan, and definitely not of her drug fuelled lifestyle, but she has a unique voice. With the 80's style beat you cannot ask for a more complementary voice. Nas hits the ground running here, and whilst the flow isn't as smooth as Life Is Good, it is still equally as effective.
This one has a bizarre hook, with a slightly electronic sounding woman. Clearly they have added some effects to the voice, but it all adds to the track. This track I love due to the lyrics, rather than the beat. He raps so many puns and rhymes everything together with topics ranging from tax brackets, going to hell, relationships. It is like a million topics all rolled in to one song, but essentially it relates to Kelis as most of the album does. I could be wrong though and it could be another woman. The beat is quite mellow and simple at the same time. If anything I would describe it as haunting, especially with the hook. Definitely not one to lighten your mood.
Overall this is a solid album, and has a number of great tracks. Even some that could have made the cut for Illmatic, but that album is one of the greatest albums of all time, so nothing was really going to compare, and I can't even compare this album. However it was great to see Nas back to his old school flow and long may it continue. He needs to forget about making tunes that appeal commercially and continue to make tracks for his true fans that have stuck by him through the 18 years since his debut album.
Nas is arguably one of the best rappers of all time. He has delivery, charisma, lyrics, good beat selection and all in all he delivers hit records. Life is good for a rapper who has been in the game when most of the new school generation were in nappies and has seen many come and go. His new effort delivers for those who enjoy rap having grown up on it but may be in a different place in their life due to maturing. He doesn't rap like a person in denial, you know, the type who are millionaires but talk as if they are still in the streets and partaking in criminal activites. He gives us his perspective on his current situation and a truely accurate one at that. He also allows us to understand that older people are relevant in rap, and regardless of your comfortable financial situation and family there is always some struggle and heartbreak in life
Daughters is one of the best songs I have heard from Nas in a while which chronicles his relationship with his daughter Destiny who is now 18 and going off to college. It allows anyone with a child or loved one to relate to him and shows a different role many do not see in the rap game: a father.
The Don is another great song built around a Supercat sample Party in New York which shows the streets and Nas' core fanbase that he is still the one to beat when it comes to lyrics and bravado. This definately deserves respect.
Bye bye baby is about his ex-wife Kelis who he endured a painful divorce with. The lyrics and beat on this song are amazing as well as the old school sample which makes the track flawless.
All in all a great, classic effort from QB's own Nasir Olu Bin Daru Jones.
*Review also posted of ciao.co.uk under HennyRoc*
1.No Introduction (Produced by J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League)
2. Loco-Motive feat. Large Professor (Produced by No I.D.)
3. A Queens Story (Produced by Salaam Remi)
4. Accident Murderers feat. Rick Ross (Produced by No I.D.)
5. Daughters (Produced by No I.D.)
6. Reach Out feat. Mary J. Blige (Produced by Salaam Remi, Rodney Jerkins, DJ Hot Day & Nas)
7. World's An Addiction feat. Anthony Hamilton (Produced by Salaam Remi)
8. Summer On Smash feat. Miguel & Swizz Beatz (Produced by Swizz Beatz)
9. You Wouldn't Understand feat. Victoria Monet (Produced by Buckwild)
10. Back When (Produced by No I.D.)
11. The Don (Produced by Salaam Remi, Heavy D & Da Internz)
12. Stay (Produced by No I.D.)
13. Cherry Wine feat. Amy Winehouse (Produced by Salaam Remi)
14. Bye Baby (Produced by Salaam Remi & 40)
Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones or as he is better known, Nas announced himself to the music world with his critically acclaimed debut 'Illmatic' album which was released when he was just 21 years old. Since then he has produced music of a good standard but not always up to the heights of his debut album. He is known as an insightful storyteller. 'Life is good' is his 10th studio album and was released in July 2012. This is his first album as a solo artist for 4 years, although he did collaborate with Damien Marley on 'Distant relatives' in 2010.
Nas is now much older (38) and this album contains a lot of personal subject matter. This includes his bitter divorce from singer Kelis, tax issues with the IRS and also dealing with a daughter who is growing up.
When Kelis left him, she took everything she owned, except her green wedding dress which he is shown with on the cover of the album. He is shown relaxing on a black leather couch in a sharp white suit with his hand supporting his chin with the dress draped across his lap . This is in sharp contrast to his first album which featured a photo of the rapper as a 7-year-old against a backdrop of New York housing projects.
He explains that "This album talks about life, love and money. It talks about the fact that marriage is expensive. Life Is Good represents the most beautiful, dramatic and heavy moments in my life."
The producers of the album include the likes of No I.D. and Swizz Beatz,
No introduction- this is a good opening track to the album and is a kind of reintroduction to Nas. He goes through some of his upbringing and some of his misdemeanours such as "15, I got a gun, 16, I robbed a train." 4.5/5
Locomotive- He continues his storytelling from illmatic on this track with a pumping beat which sounds like a train rattling along." I know you think my life is good cause my diamond piece
But my life been good since I started finding peace" is one of the best lines from this song. 4.5/5
A Queens story This is about his hometown and he raps 'Brooklyn keep on taking it
Manhattan keep on making it Trying to leave Queens out. He is repping queens in this song. 4/5
Accident murderers-this track shows Nas' grittier side and the consequences of stray bullets. "These two different personalities had to collide/N***as could not aim and innocent n***as died." Rick Ross features on this track showcasing the rags to riches story. 4/5
Daughters-. Nas opens up in this track about the highs and lows of his relationship with his daughter, Destiny Jones.Lyrics include" One day she's ya little princess, next day she talking boy business
What is this? And "It ain't easy to raise a girl as a single man
Nah, the way mothers feel for they sons, how fathers feel for they daughters" This is the latest single from the album. 4/5
Reach out-another big collaboration this time with Mary J Blige. This song has a decent backbeat and works well with Mary's great voice. This is a funky track as Nas' lyrics intertwine with Marys soulful voice. "When I was young they called me Olu's son
Now he's Nas father, I was the good seed
He was the wise gardener" Nas raps in this one4.5/5
Worlds an addiction-Another collaboration and this time it is Anthony Hamilton who provides his voice. In this song they are talking about obsession/addictions in the world such as drugs and money and the negative effects of these. Hamilton sings "The world is an addiction
Serving up a fix
The world is an addiction
It's way too much for me." 4/5
Summer on smash- this track seems to be a bit out of place on this album. It seems to be a track made for radio play with beats from swiss beatz. Low point on the album for me. 2/5
You wouldn't understand-The tempo is lowered for this track and this is a mellow track with vocals also provided by Victoria Monet.4/5
Back when-this is a song about his early days and how it all got started.Another solid track.4/5
The don- In this song the lyrics are about the difficulties of poverty inside disadvantaged societies and other issues such as weapon and drug problems. Another one of the singles off the album. 3/5
Stay-another smooth track with jazz style backdrop. 3.5/5
Cherry Wine"--this features the recently deceased Amy Winehouse and is another top track from the album. Winehouse' beautiful voice works well with the lyrics of Nas. In the song he fantasizes about his dream girl . "You're the woman I need, but where is she."4/5
Bye baby- In this song Nas is coming to terms with his failed marriage and also the good and bad things that came about from it. It is written like he is directly talking to his now ex wife.
"Bye baby, I guess you know why I walked away
When we walked to the altar that was an awesome day."4/5
This album is able to show Nas at his best with some top tracks. It is not quite a classic but is a solid showing from the queens rapper. Nas is back but really it is like he never left. He is able to turn some of his recent pain into progression and pieces it all together with 'Life is good.' This is a socially conscious album and has a lot of personal subject matter. There are some top tracks including No introduction, Loco-motive and Accident murderers. The first 5 tracks get the album off to a good start but he falters a bit with summer on smash and a couple of others towards the end. Nas had an album entitled 'Hip Hop is dead'. With him still around, it is still well and truly alive. Overall I would give the album a solid 4/5 dooyoo stars.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 No Introduction
2 Loco - Motive feat. Large Professor
3 A Queens Story
4 Accident Murderers feat. Rick Ross
6 Reach Out feat. Mary J. Blige
7 World?s An Addiction feat. Anthony Hamilton
8 Summer On Smash feat. Miguel & Swizz Beatz
9 You Wouldn?t Understand feat. Victoria Monet
10 Back When
11 The Don
13 Cherry Wine feat. Amy Winehouse
14 Bye Baby
16 The Black Bond
18 Where?s The Love feat. Cocaine 80s