You all know the Rapper, NaS(Nasty Nas, The Prophet, Now The Don) the Queensbridge dweller who said "I don't Sleep cause Sleep is the cousin of Death"?
His debut album/ crowning achievement, the one, the only, Illmatic shook the hip-hop world with its complex rhyme schemes and descriptive lyrics that shaped Hip Hop after it.
Often referred to as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. NaS has been in the rap genre longer than most cats in Hip-Hop, dating back to as early as '91 with a guest performance on the song "Live at The Barbeque" by Main Source that surprised many hip-hop listeners at the time. People referred to him as the "New Rakim". A Multi-Platinum Artist, NaS has had great success in hip-hop and is thoroughly respected in the hip-hop community.
Note: Nas's Album Cover, the green dress is his past wife Kelis and it's genius! Nas always has a knack of having great album covers.
Read Nas's Life is Good Album Review Below.
View their Video Here: http://www.mtv.com/videos/news/814698/nas-comes-back-strong-with-life-is-good.jhtml
So I listened to the whole Life Is Good in its entirety and I have to admit It defintely was not what I expected. It exceeded those expectations I had with this new album by Nas. But let's review song by song.
1) No Introduction: A Great Introduction to this album as Nas paints his childhood, growing up, interactions with others and the first thing I noticed was the beautiful instrumental that accompanied Nas on this song. The Title itself "No Introduction" would make you think this album didn't have a Introduction, but it does The Irony. Nas addresses the album to Kalis, saying he'll share his experiences in the following songs.
2) Locomotive featuring Large Professor : A 90s Style Song that many serious hip-hop fans like myself could enjoy. Nas shows his lyricism once again on this song, with his descriptive lyrics, my favorite line when he compares the summer heat of New York to the numbing feeling of burning the roof of your mouth with scalding pizza. Ouch! We all know that feeling! This song I really liked as well.
3) A Queens Story: Nas describes to us about his environment in Queens, his hectic live, and his friends slowly disappearing from his life. Describing his hometown to the listener, and shares his story with us in this song. I really like the beat as in the background accompanies Nas very well in this song as well, The Production is Great So Far! It gives me chills towards the end when he talks about his mother who died from cancer and the friends he gave shoutouts on his first album, Illmatic. He looks around and doesn't notice any familiar faces, Times Have Changed. I thought this was one of my favorites so far.
4) Accident Murderers featuring Rick Ross: The Beginning of this song, the organ in the background after the last song "Queens Story" has Nas rapping, talking about "Accident Murderers" leading into the next song ( Kind of how A Tribe Called Quest did on Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders which I loved..)
I was surprised to see that Nas chose Rick Ross on this song, rather than choosing AZ on the phenomenal song "Life's a B*tch". During Rick Ross's verse, I was just thinking "Alright Ross, Let Me Hear Nas."
This Song was actually pretty alright once you get past the fact of Rick Ross on it. He talks about the Gun being a virgin, and "Accident Murderers" saying the gun isn't the murderer, but the person holding it was it was responsible, yet they brag of it. Once again, Production is smooth.
5) Daughters: This song is definitely another favorite of mine on this album. Surprised me when I heard this single a few months ago and was surprised of how well done it was. Nas shows his struggle as a father, allowing other fathers to relate to the experience of having a daughter. He wants his daughter to have the best, but he also says how hard it is to raise a girl being a single father without a motherly presence. No I.D. did a beautiful beat on this song.
6) Reach Out featuring Mary J. Blige: The Feeling on this song, the scratching and the guitar in the background and a nice addition of Mary J. Blige gives this song a sort of funky,cool feeling, which I really like. Nas talks about his money problems, ironic as many of us would think he would have no problems. Talking about how "He's too hood to be in the Hollywood circles, and too rich to be in the hood that birthed you."-Nas, Reach Out
Mary sings an interpolation of New Edition's "Once In a Lifetime Groove" over DJ Hollywood's "Hollywood World".
7) World's An Addiction Featuring Anthony Hamilton: Anthony Hamilton, I have never heard of this artist before until listening to this song. Describing this cold world, fighting for lies, The World is Our Addiction as a quick fix to many of our desires. Nas is wondering his purpose and what he's supposed to do. I like the beat on this song, another example of the beautiful production so far on this album. Addictions, referring to drugs and alcoholism, showing a pastors's hypocrisy reciting lines of scriptures while he is into bestiality. Nas did really well on this song, and I'm adding it to my favorite songs from this album.
8) Summer On Smash Featuring Miguel & Swizz Beatz: I was disappointed on this song, Nas "What are you doing?!" Nas is trying to appeal to our generation by embodying the qualities he said, That Killed Hip Hop. Thus, making a terrible song I would expect from the likes of Flo Rida or Drake. or other mainstream garbage rappers...
Talking about Women, Money, "What the hell Nas?!" Bad Decision from him I have to say...
My Friend Nick Buglione said and I quote from him in our conversation: "He claims that hip hop died, yet makes a song the embodies all of the qualities that made it die. "
A end to the good streak of the good songs that was going on this album..
9) You Wouldn't Understand featuring Victoria Monet: The first thing I noticed listening to this song was the Rakim " Make them clap to this" from Eric B. is the President. I suddenly became pretty excited knowing Eric B. was producing this song for Nas. Another beautiful work of production, and this artist Victoria Monet I've never heard of, just as Anthony Hamilton. However, Nas talks about how We "Wouldn't Understand" what he goes through in his life, and describes how we wouldn't "Last a day in his shoes."
This Song I thought was honestly not bad and kind of, kind of...kind of..Makes up for "Summer On Smash", I'm still cringing..
10) Back When: This Song, you can tell Nas talks about his old days, "Back In The Day" about his beginning and relating it back to his life " Massages, Hotels, etc." He describes the world of where other rappers "wink", showing has he couldn't trust others after 2Pac's death. Nas says Dr.Dre says he overthinks the songs he writes, ironic in that note of that would be nothing but beneficial to Hip-Hop.
This song was not bad at all.
11) The Don: Another one of Nas's singles like Daughters, Nas proclaims himself as "The Don", "The King" showcasing his return into Hip-Hop. This song, produced by Salaam, Heavy D's old producer has a beat different from the others, and overall a great production as well. I liked this song, however not one of my favorites. It appeals to our generation, more hip hop today and I think this was a better attempt than "Summer On Smash" and sort of successful I believe, *shudders*. Nas proclaims himself "The Don" with his re-entry into Hip-Hop.
12) Stay: I like The Jazzy Feeling to this Song, Nas expressing his feelings of hating someone, yet it's love a thug mystery. Nas shows his dissent of a "brother" as he calls it, but he wants them to "Stay" no matter how much he wants them dead, and buried under 6-feet of soil. I find it kind of funny and yet it's sort of true. We could hate someone, yet we could love them at the same time. A love-hate relationship..
13) Cherry Wine Featuring Amy Winehouse: This song is another one of my favorites off of this album. Some of the best instrumentals I've heard are all over this album. Amy Winehouse on this song adds a ghostly feel to it, as she recently passed away. She sings about the search of the significant other, someone who shares the interests of her, and Nas's rap shares the same search. He talks about a person who understands what he feels, and can relate to him. Amy's beautiful singing, the mellow beat with the wonderful sample, makes a great song..
14) Bye Baby: I liked this song, another favorite from this album. He talks about his relationship with the R&B Singer Kelis, the marriage and divorce they had. How much he loved her, and thought they would be together forever. Talking about her weird family, and how much he digged her "flow" and loved his "gangsta wife". The samples used in this Production sampling from Guy's Goodbye Love results in such a beautiful instrumental, (which this album I have to say The Production is almost god-tier).
15) Nasty: Another single from this Album, going with Daughters and The Don another lyrical song on this album. "Nasty Nas" reclaims his title on his album showing an example of his lyricism on this song.
This was a surprise to me from this album as this single I heard a few months ago, and Nas returning was quite an excitement. This beat went "really great" with Nas, another great production example on this album. I liked this single as well, out of all the single(s) In order of likeness, It'd be Daughters, Nasty, and The Don..
16) The Black Bond: This Song was actually not bad. Nas shows us more of his example of lyricism, and still showing us he still got it. However, Nas lacked a little on this song however the Beat ( how often do I say this) was really creative and flowed with his lyrics. Alright.
17) Roses: The Mellow Piano in this song adds to the background of the song and the woman singing in the song surprised me when this song begun. Nas is trying to decide what woman to go after, they may appear as a rose but roses have thorns. He compares the girl to Martin Scorsese's first film saying it was fly , but saying she was even flyer. He says how no matter what he does, what people like from him he is resented. This Song was alright, not as good as the songs in the beginning though.
18) Where's The Love Featuring Cocaine 80s: The Last Song on the Album, and Nas asks "Where's The Love" as he has a vivid description of people today, with a description of "a FBI agent sitting in his cubicle chewing on his pencil eraser" You Can Picture that! He also says Cops look at him different from people like me or you, ordinary people and saying how his son will have a lot to live up to. His Father, Nas, a multi-platinum artist highly respected in the hip-hop community. This song was actually not bad as well, a Fine end to this album.
To Conclude The Review, Life is Good was a pretty good comeback by NaS and to be honest, I'm pretty impressed with what Nas's work on this. However, There are a few things I wish Nas did on this album. Let's go through the Pros and Cons.
- Amazing Production, Beautiful Instrumentals, Amazing Producers
- More Personal Lyrics/Songs, a shift from the "Gangsta-Style" of Illmatic
- Songs that any fan of hip hop can listen to and Enjoy.
- A landmark in Nas's Career, showing where he came from. Better than most of his albums excluding The Lost Tapes,Stillmatic(excluding "One Mic"), It Was Written, and of course Illmatic.
- Better choice for Accident Murderers, maybe 2 or 3 more collabs. (AZ, Kendrick, Jay-Z for example)
Rick Ross, Really?
- Lack of a song such as "One Mic, I Gave You Power, N.Y. State of Mind, Memory Lane,Rewind"
- Simpler Lyrics, not as complex and deep as the Nas we know. However, I was easy on that in the review.(me being a serious hip hop fan.)
- "Summer Smash", embodying the qualities that killed Hip-Hop. *shaking my head Nas*
What is the score? Well. Let's do this on a 10 Point Scale.
My First Music Review. So Here Goes.
Score: 9 Incredible!
Salaam, Eric B., No I.D. and other great producers.
The Problem with other Nas Albums was he lacked a good ear for beats. This album, not only the beats, the production is crisp, the samples are nice, some of the best production I've heard in a long time. In fact, The Best Production I've ever Heard on a Nas Album, Maybe even ever. Including Illmatic. All the beats fit the songs nicely. Exception to "Summer On Smash" which is the only terrible song..(though I understand Nas's direction)
Not expecting another Illmatic, I took that into account.
Locomotive the 90s style song, the most lyrical song on the album as the line I took from the MTV article above, the lyricism is descriptive. The lyrics paint a picture, this album differs from Illmatic in the sense NaS has changed from that 17 years since Illmatic. There is a good mix of songs on this album and I have to say overall I'm very impressed. Also, the lyrics weren't as deep
A Great Mixture Of Songs, The Nice Introduction(No Introduction) painting Nas's childhood about N.Y. Free Lunch's Program, the food he needed that he was able to get for free.
My Favorite Songs would have to be(that may change): Locomotive,Cherry Wine, Queens Story, Bye Baby,
And You Wouldn't Understand.
It's a good mix of songs, Songs about the typical Gangsta Life, Songs like Bye Baby and Cherry Wine(The Significant Other), Personal Songs(Daughters,No Introduction,Reach Out)
However, the song like "Summer On Smash" made me cringe. That is probably the only bad song on this album I feel.
I recommend you guys to buy this album, whether Nas Fans, or not! If you appreciate good hip-hop music, you'll find something promising in Life Is Good. Nas made a good comeback and shook me off my feet.
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This has been my first album review, Thank You!
Special Thanks To: Nick Buglione, Luciano Sardella, and Julian Vega for reading through this blog
and helping me edit it. Thanks Guys.