Happy birthday to Hip Hop icon Nas, who celebrates his 44th year of life today. Nas reigns as undisputed Top 5 Royalty, and whenever he releases a project, The Culture rejoices. Nas is a legendary MC, and it was an absolute privilege to write a piece on his last studio album in 2012. Five years later, Life Is Good is still one of my favorites, and today I pay homage with a re-publish of my original album review.
Happy birthday Nas. We appreciate you being a foundation of The Culture. Salute.
July 16, 2012
With an eclectic blend of cinematic intros, heavy percussion, jazz influence, soulful hooks, and 80s samples, Nas delivers vivid narratives of intimate moments of his life in pure MC fashion. On the deluxe edition of his 10th album Life Is Good, tracks 1 through 18 transition into tales of the streets, personal growth, love, betrayal, and healthy doses of societal enlightenment swaddled in a mildly aggressive unfiltered form of sophisticated word play that only Nasir Jones himself can bless us with. Life Is Good is more than just a typical album. It’s a soundtrack of his circumstances he’s battled with, most notably highlighting his well publicized divorce from ex-wife Kelis as personified on the album cover with Nas in a tailored ivory tux; green bridal gown draped across his knee. On his most recently released track “Bye Baby” the song opens up with 80s group “Guy” front man Aaron Hall singing “I guess you knew and blew a good thing”. The sample of the group’s “Goodbye Love” record sets the tone for an open letter to Kelis as Nas reminisces of the good and bad times of their relationship. His track entitled “Roses” further illustrates his feelings toward his ex-wife’s behavior that strained their marriage and his disappointment about how and why it ended.
For the die hard Nas fanatics who’ve faithfully stood by him since his Illmatic emergence, “Loco-Motive” (featuring Large Professor), “The Don”, “Nasty”, and “A Queens Story” (a record celebrating his survival and paying homage to his fallen comrades) are all tracks guaranteed to satisfy your insatiable appetite for the Queens MC. The bass heavy rhythms compliment his signature rhyme patterns mentally taking you back to Nasty Nas’ humble beginnings that made him a 5 mic lyricist.
If you take a liking to features, Nas collabs with Rick Ross on “Accidental Murderers” where he calls out those boasting false street credibility. Queen of Hip Hop Soul, Mary J. Blige graces the hook of “Reach Out”, Anthony Hamilton lends his soulful vocals on the more somber society conscious record “World’s Addiction”, and the late great Amy Winehouse infuses her melodic Blues sound on “Cherry Wine” with many more to name.
The production for Life Is Good plays a vital role in this album being one of the most entertaining albums to listen to. With tracks produced by J.U.S.T.I.C.E League, Saalam Remi, Swizz Beats, No I.D. and more, the instrumentals alone will take you through what feels like a private screening of a major motion picture where every scene captures your interest and holds you emotionally hostage to its subject matter.
Overall, Life Is Good is a masterfully constructed album with virtually no flaws or records that deserve to be skipped over. From the day-one fans, to the “Nas fell off” naysayers, to the newer listeners who have yet to appreciate his deeply rooted significance as a Hip Hop staple, I can guarantee theres at least one track on this album that’s for everybody. Some may call it a classic while others may consider those levels of accolades premature but one thing’s for certain, Life Is Good is an album that demonstrates artistic progression and further legitimizes Nas’ imprint as the Hip Hop legend he is.
– Music Industry Diva
Original article published here
-Dominique Nicole ( @she_is_dominique )