Nas - Life is Good (Review)


"Life Is Good" is the latest album released by Queensbridge legend, Nas. The album features guest appearances by Large Professor, Rick Ross, Amy Winehouse, Mary J. Blige and others and production primarily by No I.D. and Salaam Remi. It was released on July 13, 2012 on Def Jam Recordings.


1) No Introduction - The album jumps off with an epic J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League instrumental and Nas just bodies it. The beat has a stadium feel to it as Nas reflects on his past and also speaks on his present day situations.
"Trying to cop quarters and trying to move that hard
Roll with a shooting squad
How could I not succumb? How could I not partake?
15 I got a gun, 16 I robbed a train
Licked off a shot for fun, what's got inside my brain?
A hustler's job ain't done, until he becomes a king"
No skit, no bullshit, just a dope hip-hop beat and classic Nas rhymes. Great way to start the album.

2) Loco-Motive (featuring Large Professor) - The second track on the album is produced by one of my favorite hip-hop producers, No I.D. The beat has an old school underground rap feeling to it and is very reminiscent of some of the classic mid-90s bangers that came out of the New York area around that time. Nas spits real hard on here and proclaims the track to be for the "trapped in the '90s niggas". Very, very dope song.

3) A Queens Story - Frequent Nas collaborator Salaam Remi stops by to provide an upbeat classical music / orchestra sample for Nas to rip. The beat is constantly evolving and changing as Nas spits a Queens street story from his past. The last minute or so with Nas spitting rapid-fire over a drum-less piano instrumental is just epic. Another banger.

4) Accident Murderers (featuring Rick Ross) - No I.D. returns with a organ-based instrumental that also features a beautiful choir sample and some boom-bap drums. Nas rhymes about how bullets have no names and sometimes the innocent are accidentally killed when shots ring off.
"Some of his boys on the corner was who your bullets entered
Two of em pull through, but one didn't, son's finished
You took the life of him
The part about it that's crazy, you was aight with him
Tight with him, why was he in the way?
Why was he standing next to the enemy that specific day?"
Even Rick Ross comes correct on this. Dope song.

5) Daughters - I must admit to having a soft spot for this song since I have a daughter of my own. No I.D. comes through again with a beautiful instrumental that combines a lighthearted sample, female vocals during the chorus and a dope boom-bap bassline. Nasty Nas spits about his daughter Destiny and how his fame may have affected her life, especially with her growing up while he is always away on tour.
"They grow fast, one day she's your little princess
Next day she talking boy business, what is this?
They say the coolest playas and foulest heart breakers in the world
God gets us back, he makes us have precious little girls"
Fire.



6) Reach Out (featuring Mary J. Blige) - This song, produced by Salaam Remi, Rodney Jenkins, DJ Day and Nas, has a nice old school hip-hop feel to it and utilizes the same sample as Cormega's track "Beautiful Mind". Nas is seriously spitting on this album and his lyrics and flow seem reinvigorated after his public divorce from Kelis. This is good, but not one of my favorites.

7) World's an Addiction (featuring Anthony Hamilton) - Salaam Remi provides a somber, drum-less instrumental that has some sweeping strings and a subdued electric guitar that slowly builds up to epic proportions over the course of the song. Nas comes correct while Anthony Hamilton provides the chorus and some harmonizing throughout. This is pretty dope.

8) Summer On Smash (featuring Miguel and Swizz Beats) - I'm really not feeling this song. The instrumental, by Swizz Beats, tries to be a summer-time banger but comes off as uninspired and bland. Nas sounds good, but Swizz Beats gets really annoying on the chorus. Definitely could have done without this song.

9) You Wouldn't Understand (featuring Victoria Monet) - Buckwild comes with an energetic, somewhat old school synth instrumental for Nas to get busy over. Victoria Monet provides the chorus as Nas speaks on success and where he comes from all while incorporating a few braggadocio bars. This is good, but definitely not a standout track for me.

10) Back When - No I.D. returns with yet another banger and, once again, it has an old school underground rap feel to it. The beat and lyrics are retrospective as Nas spits nostalgic bars about his life growing up in Queens. I really like this song. Its got a nice, care-free feel to it. Dope.

11) The Don - This track is produced by the late Heavy D, with additional production by Salaam Remi and Da Internz. The beat is very energetic and successfully blends a more mainstream, dancehall sound with something still respectable to the underground. Nas spits about being "The Don" of New York. At first I didn't really like this song, but it really grew on me after repeated listens. Nice.



12) Stay - The No I.D. beats on this album are simply amazing. This one is a beautiful, laid-back, jazzy horn instrumental with some subtle female vocals adding texture to the beat. Nas spits fire on here despite the lack of drums in the beat.
"I might kill you, but do I got love for you?
I want you dead under six feet of soil
At the same time want you here to witness me while you in misery
We hate each other but it's love, what a thug mystery"
Very ill.

13) Cherry Wine (featuring Amy Winehouse) - This song was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, but it ended up losing out to "No Church in the Wild" by Jay-Z and Kanye West. This is the better song in my opinion. Salaam Remi comes through with another soulful, jazzy instrumental for Nas to rip. The chorus by Amy Winehouse is just amazing as well. Very dope song.



14) Bye Baby - This is the final song on the album. Its produced Salaam Remi and Noah "40" Shebib and finds Nas reminiscing over his failed marriage with Kelis over the "Goodbye Love" sample. This song is really good and its nice to hear Nas open up about what happened. The whole divorce thing has definitely sparked something in him since he sounds like his old self again. His flow and lyrics have been on point throughout the whole album.



*Deluxe Edition bonus tracks*

15) Nasty - This was the first video from the album. Its sad that it only ended up as a bonus track since this track is absolute FIRE. Salaam Remi provides a definite banger, with a dope old school sample and hard boom-bap drums that will have you nodding your head for sure. Nas channels his 'Nasty Nas' persona and just rips the instrumental. This is one of my favorite songs on here.



16) The Black Bond - Nas and Salaam Remi come through with a James Bond inspired track which features Nas spitting about his lavish lifestyle over a violin and horn instrumental. While this may sound corny, the end result is really good. So far these bonus tracks have been iller than some of the album cuts.

17) Roses - The instrumental on this song, provided by Al Shux, has some subdued pianos, eerie female vocals and mellow drums. Nas gets real personal on here and speaks yet again on his failed relationship with Kelis.
"I prayed we would stay together
Wished it'd last forever, know what I mean?
Heard you tear a rose from the roots, the rose screams"
Nice.

18) Where's the Love (featuring Cocaine 80s) - The final bonus track is produced by No I.D. and it has a Middle Eastern feel to it. Nas comes correct, as always, and spits about how the younger generations don't always respect the previous generations. Dope.

I'm going to rate the album

4.25 / 5

because there are plenty of bangers on here, but a few filler songs as well. Nas, fresh off his nasty divorce with Kelis, sounds like his old self again, as if the misery of the break up fueled his passion to write. His lyrics and flow are the best I've heard from him in years. The beats, which are usually hit-or-miss on Nas albums, are consistently dope and blend old school boom-bap beats with modern day sounds. This is definitely one of Nas's best albums in years and I highly recommend it for any hip-hop head.

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