I Can't Call It: Life Is Good - Nas

Posted On Monday, January 28, 2013

Man...I haven't liked a Nas album since "Stillmatic." And that dropped in 2001 so in a nutshell I haven't felt money for over 10 years. Wow. It's funny how a dude could end up being #3 on my greatest MC's EVER list but has been MIA from my rotation for over a decade. Now of course, I've messed with songs from Nas over the past 10 years ("Made You Look" and "Thief's Theme") but this dude is one of the best MC's EVER...this dude can't drop 4 albums in 10 years but I can't throw any of those jawns in the whip and just lounge with it without hitting the skip button...numerous times. I don't know about ya'll but I expect more from Nas then a dope song here and there. Then other cats will go onto tell me how he's had some of the illest guest verses over the pat 10 years and I'm sure ya'll are right but again in my eyes you can't be one of the top 3 MC's EVER and just hand out some dope verses here and there. All of that to say when I heard Nas was about to drop his 10th album "Life Is Good" that I could honestly care less. Then I heard his first single "Nasty"...it was cool. Not the illest beat ever but I'll take this over that "Hero" bull ish he was dropping his last go round. Then I heard "The Don"...aiight, this jawn is SICK...but we ALL know Nas' achilles heel is picking beats so it's gonna take more then two bangers for me to even think twice about getting hype for a Nas album. Then I heard "Daughters" which might just be the one of the most important songs (and not just in hip hop but music period) I've heard for the past 12 years. Plus my dude No ID produced it? Then I see the tracklisting and peep that No ID is checking in with 5 jawns?!?!?Aiight, now I'm getting hype for "Life Is Good." Then after hearing "Accident Murderers" with Rick Ross and "Loco-Motive" with Large Professor (both produced by No ID) it was official...this was the hypest I'd been for a Nas album since waiting for "It Was Written" to drop. It was to the point that when I saw more songs that leaked I didn't even wanna peep 'em, I just wanted to wait to hear the album as a whole. But even with me this hype, in the back of my mind I'm thinking this is still the same dude who made that wack ass "Hip Hop Is Dead" album and I've only heard 5 jawns...there's still 7 more songs and this dude Nas mos def has the capability to STILL screw this album up." So the question of the hour is, does he screw this album up?

"Life Is Good" sets off with the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League produced "No Introduction" which samples one of my fave Kirk Franklin songs "Don't Cry" and has Nas going in on this. "1990's Polo Ralph Lauren on him/gone a few years, the whole world snoring on him/girls all up on him, I spread, hit and dead 'em/she says, the 3rd leg of a legend is sheer heaven/she says it is the greatest loving, the tales you hear is the truth on me/who wasn't the most faithful husband/reveal my life, you will forgive me, you will love me/love me, hate, judge me, relate to me/only a few will, this how it sounds when you're too real/they think it's just music still." Then we got this dude doing it for us "trapped in the 90's n-ggaz" with the No ID produced "Loco-Motive" featuring Extra P which is EASILY one of the hardest Nas songs I've heard since '93's "New York State of Mind" while "Queens Story" gives you a vivid description of the borough who's always taking it, "back in the days, they were sleeping on us/Brooklyn keep on taking it, Manhattan keeps on making it/trying to leave Queens out/but we were pulling them beams out, them M3's out/pumpin bringing them D's out/rasta selling chocolate weed inside of a weed house/Coliseum downstairs gold teeth mouth/Astoria warriors, 8th street twin buildings/Vernon can't even count the Livingston children." "Accident Murderers" featuring Rick Ross has Nas and Rozay trading lines back and forth about how "n-ggaz cannot aim and innocent n-ggaz die" and there's really no need to go into how dope "Daughters" and "The Don" are so let's jump right into the part of the album where I can foresee Nas screwing this thing up lovely, which is the R&B feature side of the album and it's literally 4 R&B features in a row.

I've got my own little equation when it comes to mixing hip hop with R&B, especially in 2012. Which is simply "Hip Hop + R&B = failure." The first up of Nas' R&B collabos is "Reach Out" featuring Mary J. Blige who in my opinion should be banned from doing any more hip hop cameos. That magic Mary had being on a hip hop hook is 15+ years in the past and should stay there. Now the funny thing is with all of that said, I mess with Mary on this! Maybe it's the old school feel of the track plus Nas drops some nice jewels on this, "can see myself at presidential campaign dinners/but I'm passing blunts around a bunch of gang members/when you're too hood to be in those Hollywood circles/and you're too rich to be in that hood that birthed you." Now "World's An Addiction" featuring Anthony Hamilton is another story. First up, Anthony Hamilton doesn't have that voice to just be singing a hook, dude is a singer who needs to sing songs not hooks, so we're already behind the 8 ball on this right there. And on top of that, there's nothing amazing about the beat to make the song get any better which just leaves me wishing that Nas would forever lose Salaam Remi's number cause if Salaam would've given this same beat to Jazmine Sullivan I'd probably be praising him for it but last time I check Nas ain't Jazmine Sullivan. Next up on the R&B side of things is "Summer On Smash" featuring Miguel and Swizz Beats which from the door sounds like a double whammy but surprisingly I mess with this jawn. I can't front, every now and then I'm actually in the mood for some Swizz. Next up is "You Wouldn't Understand" featuring Victoria Monet produced by D.I.T.C.'s Buckwild which you would think would be ill. And it should've been ill if Buck didn't give Nas a beat that sounds like he had laying around his SP-1200 since '95. Plus since this jawn sounds like "Sugar Hill Part 2" the least Nas could've done was put AZ on it so we could all feel the nostalgia he must've been feeling to pick this beat.

Now that we're back on the hip hop side of things, on "Back Then" Nas paints a vivd picture of "how it all got started" back in the bridge, "I remember seeing Shan, chillin' near his Audi/Hollis Ave. Run and 'em, but I'd probably/put a poster up of Shan and Marley, that was art kid/you love to hear the story how it started" and "Stay" has Nas trying to check his feelings for this shorty he's hitting, "she got a lot of options/ hard to make up her mind to decide which baller to rock with/ hot to death, slim pickings, but I'm not impressed/she got the hottest sex so I'm guess I'm gonna stay"and one of his enemies, "even though I don't like you, next Friday night, I can't wait to fight you/locked up I would knife you, don't f-ck with you/last month I even bucked at you/you got locked, I felt bad, wait, do I got love for you/I might kill you, but do I got love for you/I want you dead under six feel of soil, at the same time, want you here to witness me while you in misery/we hate each other, but it's love/what a thug mystery." When it comes to "Cherry Wine" featuring Amy Winehouse, I'm on my Marlo jawn ("I'm not much for sentiment") so while everybody else is loving this (I guess cause it's features Amy Winehouse) it doesn't do anything for me. And for the finale for the album you've got "Bye Baby" which tells the story of the rise and fall of him and Kelis. Which is mos def an ill story with lines like, "why did we mess it up, we was friends, we had it all/the reason you don't rust me, that was your daddy's fault/he in the grave, let it go, he no longer living/said you caught him cheating with mom, f-cking other women", "let's take it back some years, rewind it to the happy years/you and your Star Trek fam, I'm thinking you cats are weird/same time different, yeah I was diggin ya'll flow/then I tatted you on my arm so n-ggaz would know/I thought no one could stop us, matches gold watches/I was your Johnny Deep, you was my Janis Joplin" and "can you imagine writing your deposition/divorce lawyer telling you how this thing's gonna be ending/with you paying out the ass, and I'm talking half, not some but half, no serious...half" but at the end of the day, Nas telling this story over Guy's "Goodbye Love" loop to me is just corny. It's like if Nas would've done "Daughters" over Stevie's "Isn't She Lovely." You know how wack they would've made that song? Even though he was still talking about something dope, it would've been a wack song and that's how I feel about "Bye Baby." I mean,  Salaam or No ID didn't have any heat left to give this dude to tell the most important story of the album and of the last 5 years of his life over? Word?!?!?!

I can tell you this, "Life Is Good" is no "Here My Dear" (Marvin Gaye's album about his divorce from his 1st wife, Anna Gordy) like cats have been comparing it to. In fact, there's only one song on "Life Is Good" that actually deals with the break up between Nas and Kelis. But don't forget Nas is a mastermind of promoting his music (see all of the hoopla the media was in when Nas was gonna name his album "N-gger") so trying to promote this album as the tell all story (and ever since Superhead ya'll know how the world LOVES a good hip hop "tell all" story) of the Nas and Kelis break up could be chalked up to Nas just wearing his promoter hat. But to be honest, I could care less if this album had anything to do with Kelis, his divorce, his child support payments, etc. as long as money was coming back to the hip hop side of things. And I won't even hold you, I mess with "Life Is Good." It's not the classic album I was hoping for but in 2012 and beyond I don't know if I'll ever get that 5 mic album from Nas I've been waiting YEARS for. But I can say that at the end of the day that "Life Is Good" is EASILY my favorite Nas album since "Stillmatic." And I ain't mad at that either cause to be honest, I didn't think Nas even had it in him anymore to still make good ole fashion hip hop but with "Life Is Good" he mos def shows he's still got it the same way he did when there was a "Nasty" still in front of his name.

4 outta 5

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