From Illmatic to Stillmatic, I Am to Nastradamus, God’s Son to Street Disciple, It Was Written to albums Untitled and the declaration Hip-Hop Is Dead to the close Distant Relatives collaboration with Bob Marley’s son Damien, Nas has released classic after classic whilst remaining the best hip hop artist for the last 20 years he’s been around, and (arguably) of all time. Now the rapper, who came into this game at age 19 and is now almost 40, tells the rap world on his new classic that his Life Is Good.
And how good it is too. Even with the delay of his cult classic second instalment of The Lost Tapes, Nasir Jones finds new life on his last contracted Def Jam release. With One Mic the rapper has made us look and listen this last year with big burner hits Nasty (where the swagger returned with spitting like ‘I’m not in the winters of my life or the beginning stage, I am the dragon/Maserati, pumpin’ Biggie, the great legend blastin’/I’m after the actress who played Faith Evans’) and the Supercat sampling The Don. These are the type of hip hop bangers that helped this conscious rapper explode back into the minds of the mainstream. Always with more depth than the shallow chart ground traversed, Nas has also brought attention to his thoughts on the deeply devoted Daughters and the pride-swallowing honesty of his lament to his ex-wife Kelis on Bye Baby.
With lines like: ‘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/When he date, he straight, chip off his own papa/When she date, we wait behind the door with the sawed off/Cause we think no one is good enough for our daughters” and “Divorce Lawyer telling you how this thing gonna be ending?/With you paying out the a**, and I’m talking half/Not some but half. No serious, half/Half of your soul, half of your heart you leaving behind/It’s either that or die, I wanted peace of mind’. It’s clear to hear the man holding his ex-wife’s wedding dress on his album front cover has more than a few things growing concerns on his mind.
Life begins with the no-formality-needed No Introduction as the M.C. that broke into the game with Live At The BBQ shows his rhyme slinging skills are still as hot as they’ve ever been. Then Nas tracks back to the rapping on the subway days with mentoring legend Large Professor on the verse carriages of Loco-Motive. A Queens Story is even more reminiscent of this rapper’s roots, before Mr. Jones brings it to today with today’s killing competition star Rick Ross on Accident Murderers.
Then Nas goes back again to the old school with urban soul legend Mary J. Blige for the funky, Issac Hayes sampling Reach Out, which looks to extend the rapper’s fanbase young and old. Back When and You Wouldn’t Understand featuring Victoria Monet paints even more beautiful shades of the past. The smooth sips of the Remi produced Cherry Wine with late, great legendary starlet Amy Winehouse from their sessions (see the smouldering Like Smoke) takes us even further back to the golden days of hip hop.
Along with the soulful heart of the lingering Stay and the dark past depths of the itching World’s An Addiction with the trademark old-soul vocals of today’s legend Anthony Hamilton, this album takes us back even further to decades gone of music history. Plus with storytelling as deep as, ‘A patient said she needs to see a doctor soon/Doctor busy operating on a lady who’s sedated/He can barely concentrate, cause he’s newly separated/His estranged wife likes entertaining her acquaintance/In the house they were married in, mad people waiting’, the top lyricist is writing some of his realest all over this release.
Today will know the Swizz Beatz heat hit making Summer on Smash, which puts the King of New York back on the rap throne that is rightfully his. The crown fits even better with the deluxe edition, which brings us closer with The Black Bond and the beautiful bloom of Roses. The Cocaine 80s-assisted Where’s The Love is the final heartbeat for the streets of a classic album that will put this even more soulful rapper back into the heart of New York hip hop. Friend and former foe and Def Jam boss and current fellow best-rapper Jay-Z has to be proud if not a little jealous right now. It’s all ‘Good’ now. Nas has still got it, drinking to success with a new old-soul style twist. For Nasir Jones life really is good again, like he keeps repeating at the end of Cherry Wine. We can drink to that. Cheers Nas.