Written by brokencool writer Ru Black.
Nas has done it again. And by ‘it,’ I mean, crafted a listenable album with a tight cohesion interspersed with some of the MC’s best story-telling. Sure, he’s done this before (Stillmatic’s “Rewind,” anyone?) but there is a ripeness and wisdom tinting his rhythms on Life is Good and that can only come from one place—heartbreak.
At first listen many will deem this album merely about his failed relationship with the president of the weird black girls club, Kelis; however, there is more to the record than unredeemed love. On “No Introduction,” he reminds you of the project staircases, broken elevators, and Queensbridge spirit that bred him, before strapping the listener in for the real ride with the Large Professor assisted “Loco-Motive.” Every track leads to the momentum of the next—even the pre-released joints like “Daughters,” stand out. The radio-ready track “Summer on Smash” is also impressive with a little rappity rapping from Miguel, and it’s actually quite good. This song holds true to the Swizz Beatz rule: if you’re gonna get a beat from that nigga, he is going to be on the hook. No questions.
Life is Good is mostly Nas painting a picture of his trials, tribulations and joys along with the decree that through it all, goodness endures forever. The mantra “life is good” is repeated throughout the album like a resonating drum. Check for “Cherry Wine,” the collaboration with Amy Winehouse where the chemistry between the two artists is evident—they rightfully let Amy’s voice ride out for almost two minutes at the end of the track, an eerie reminder of a life cut short. Conceptually, this might be Nas’ mea culpa; the silencing of his own fears, worries and criticisms—and those of his naysayers.
The purists will find a touch of Illmatic’s “Life’s a Bitch” influence on “Stay,” while “Back When,” is simply classic hip-hop Esco rapping shit. “The Black Bond,” highlights Nas’ James Bond, true gentleman shit. He digs good marijuana, international chicks and is a wine connoisseur. A hefty nineteen tracks long, the album listens like a perfect inner monologue.
Joints to especially check for: “A Queens Story,” “Bye Baby,” where Nas gets on his super Marvin Gaye “Here My Dear” type sentiment for Kelis, and the final track on the album, “Trust.”