Review: Nas' "Life Is Good"

Review: Nas' "Life Is Good"

Nas’ latest effort, “Life Is Good” proves that hip hop is alive and well, and is littered with classic New York sounds. The legend has further cemented himself among hip hop royalty.

Nas has done it again, and further cemented his place amongst hip hop royalty.  With one of the most anticipated albums of 2012 now dropped the entire hip-hop community can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

The Queensbridge rapper’s tenth studio album, Life is Good, is a shock to the system for a community that has become accustomed to musical mediocrity.  As a fixed presence on the scene, Nasir Jones has taken it upon himself to prove that hip hop is not dead.

With this effort, Nas forces those attempting to ascend the hip hop throne to step up and take it to the next level.  Whereas many big names in the game seem more focused on the hype they generate rather than the music they produce, Nas has a true appreciation for the artistic nature of the genre, and this album is a testament to that. He acts as an inspiration, breathing life back into hip hop. As he declares on the track “Nasty”, he comes to “pop thousand-dollar bottles of scotch, smoke pot and heal the people”, and he does it damn well.

There is no shortage of dope beats on this album. “Loco-Motive” rocks a rhythm comparable to Mobb Deep’s Infamous-era, with a pulsating reflection on Nas’ rise to the top of the game, and his struggle coming up in New York City.

Tracks like “Bye Baby” and “Roses” elevate the album, exhibiting an emotional depth that is quickly becoming a rarity on the scene. Refraining from going overboard with the features, Nasty instead carefully selected specific artists who genuinely complement his own style. Most notably, Victoria Monet’s voice on “You Wouldn’t Understand”, and of course Amy Winehouse’s posthumous contribution on “Cherry Wine”. Nas clearly has an understanding of music outside his own genre, and does not allow hip hop’s traditional conventions to confine him.

Not only a master lyricist but a storyteller as well, Mr. Jones has the unique ability to simultaneously entertain and educate. As an artist he always has a message for his listeners presented in the form of stellar rhymes.  Prime examples of this include “Back When” and “A Queens Story”. Nas raps what he knows, as his New York City upbringing is a theme which permeates the entire album.  He even takes to referring to himself as the Don of NYC: “Now I’m the one who repping Queens/ Way beyond your wildest dreams” (“The Don”).

With Life Is Good, Nas reveals once again why he is regarded as hip hop royalty. Anyone can watch the throne – Nas owns it.

You can stream Life Is Good here.

 

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