NAS [LIFE IS GOOD] REVIEW BY EDWIN SANTOS
By Edwin Santos
So at exactly midnight, my preordered deluxe copy of NAS’s new album “Life is good” began downloading 19 tracks plus the videos for “Daughters” & “Don.” When it finished, I got my earphones out, plugged them in and in the dark, lying in bed I listened… and then I listened again.
“Life is Good” feels like a movie and I don’t mean it in “that” corny way that a lot of rappers and DJs like to use the word “movie,” but literally like in the way that you talk about the “Godfather” being a great movie.
This album feels like a score with vocals not to be confused with a soundtrack. What’s the difference you ask? A “soundtrack” is a marketing tool and a “score” is like a character in the movie. Many of the beats just have that grand cinematic sound to them like they are part of an epic period production by Martin Scorsese. From the piano and strings in "No Introduction" to the opening horns of "A Queens Story"
This film-like experience is a celebration of surviving success, learning from your mistakes and acknowledging your flaws. This is an album for grown folks.
Life is Good is Hip Hop 3.0. It’s not a cheap update to patch up some holes and fix some glitches on Hip Hop’s aging operating system of money, guns and hoe’s. This is a new version grounded in lyricism. It's trying to reset the game and get it back on track.
Life is Good is not perfect, it also has it’s kinks like the track “Summer On Smash” with Swizz beats. I just don’t think NAS and Swizzy are a good match or maybe I just find Swizz’s hook/voice annoying. The beat itself is not bad. I would love to hear this track without the hook or maybe a different one, “Accident Murderers” might have been my favorite track if Rick Ross wasn’t on it. I like Ross but hearing him on the same track as the Godson puts things in perspective. I’m glad there aren’t any other rappers featured on the album. “The Black Bond” is a little 2minute 20 second gem that I wish was at least a minute longer. With a beat that sounds like something the RZA would have made for Wu back in the 90s, I contradict my previous statement by saying that Raekwon would have been crazy on this track! “Loco-Motive” Sounds like a rediscovered lost track from Illmatic, was this intentional? is it a coincidence that one of the original Illmatic producers Large Professor created the track? I think not but I’m definitely not complaining. "Reach Out" is a feel good throw back jam featuring Mary J Blige. This is probably the only song that might get you out on the dance floor gripping a bottle and singing the hook along with Mary. "Bye Baby" addresses his relationship and the unfortunate and very public divorce from Kelis in a very honest and revealing manner that is a bit unexpected in this era and "Cherry Wine" is a wonderful soulful prize featuring the late Amy Winehouse that is so smooth that you won't get enough of.
I’m not going to go through every track on the album as I’m still listening and absorbing it all. Like a great you movie, sometimes you have to watch it a few times in order to get a better understanding of the details.
Like any Nas Album, this is for heads that place a premium on lyricism. Very few of these tracks will make you want to bop your head on the dance floor. This album is better suited for a night time drive in your luxury car with the premium sound system bumping and streets lights flashing by at 80 mph. It can also be enjoyed at home in your Eames lounge chair, aged drink in hand, with the lights dimmed. It’s what an album from an (almost) 40 year old MC with 20 years of rapping under his belt should sound like… mature, wise and grand.