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21 July, 2012@5:08 am

Yes, Nas is easily the most consistant rapper in the game. While Eminem may be the most technically amazing, and Jay-Z the one with the biggest catalog of hits, as XXL has put in their perfect rating of Life Is Good, Nas’ career has stretched the longest. If Biggie’s reign on the top was short like leprechauns, that of Nas is comparable to a giant.

True, Nas did have a few years of sub-par albums after Illmatic, but since around Stillmatic, he’s maintained a scary stride of consistency with each consecutive release. While rap’s collective editorial consciousness couldn’t agree all at once at which of those albums was a certified classic, each one has been called as such by each respective publication, at one time or another. (For us, it was Untitled).

We live in a different era than Illmatic, one where hip-hop has taken on so many different forms that each listener has their own definition of what can make or break the “classic” status. Nas’ latest – Life Is Good – is undoubtedly one of the strongest records of his career, but like all of his others, some will call it classic, others won’t.

Life Is Good starts out remarkably with “No Introduction” – despite being a bit overproduced – Nas is at his best here, letting listeners know what he’s been up to since the last time we heard his voice. This leads into the very Illmatic-esque “Loco-Motive” (feat. Large Professor), which proves Nas could easily craft a true sequel to his classic debut, if he wanted to. But he doesn’t need to, as proven on tracks like the cinematic “A Queens Story”, the fake-gangster blasting “Accident Murderers” (which features a blistering verse from Rick Ross), and the incredibly penned “Daughters”, where Nas laments “What he date, he straight a chip off his old papa / who she date, we wait behind the door with a sawed-off…”

But after “Daughters”, the album takes an unexpected turn, with a quartet of R&B fueled offerings – some that work better than others. The cookie cutter “Reach Out” is a throwback to the Bad Boy era of R&B-over-hip-hop-beats; except we’ve heard this one before, as Mary J. Blige is found singing over virtually the same track used for her own 1995 single “I Love You Pt. 2″, featuring Smif-N-Wessun. The Anthony Hamilton featured “World’s An Addiction” fares better, but Nas’ intricate lyrical display outweighs Hamilton’s heavy handed hook. The lone stinker on the album is “Summer On Smash” – a poor attempt at a club hit, dominated by Swizz Beatz’ hook and Miguel’s random musings – “Oochie Wallie”, it’s not. Finally, this subsection is closed out with “You Wouldn’t Understand”, featuring Victoria Monet. This is perhaps the best track of the set, with almost early Firm swagger; you can almost re-imagine Escobar once again donning the pink suit.

The album gets back on track right after this – and let’s be truthful – it never really derailed in the first place. “Back When” is another post-Illmatic banger, classically crafted by No I.D., while “The Don” is a dancehall fueled, Super Cat sampling New York anthem, sure to mash up the place. Closing out with a gorgeous pairing of Salaam Remi’s two greatest collaborators – Nas and Amy Winehouse – on the long overdue “Cherry Wine”, and the bittersweet dedication to his ex-wife, Kelis, on “Bye Baby” – it’s safe to say that Nas has recorded one of the best albums of his storied career.

Life Is Good is easily Nas’ most personal album to date, which amazingly is one of the first albums to peel a layer away of Nas’ armored exterior – something that’s been largely kept quiet throughout his career. Like Hip-Hop Is Dead and Untitled before, Nas has crafted another amazingly solid concept album. And we’ll put that on every last one of his classics.

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48 Responses to "Nas – “Life Is Good” – @@@@1/2 (Review)"
  • Arsenal18 says:

    When an album is given a four and a half, I compare it to other albums that are considered a classic within hip hop. This album does not remotely measure up to a classic album at all. Just because rap is so lacking in quality at this current time, does not mean fans should lower the standards of what is considered a classic. This album is considered the easy listening variety. I think Drake’s take care is more hip hop than this. Mr. Jones seems to be an old fighter that out there just going through the motion on this release. The man has no fire at all. He lacks passion. Don’t give me that he’s pushing 40 crap. I’m in my late 30′s too but I would rather hear a young twenty something that’s rapping like he doesn’t know where his next meal is coming from and this hip hop thing is all he has to sustain himself than an old pot bellied “been there done that attitude” from an old head. Nas’s career has been a disappointment. The last time he sounded hungry was on “God’s son” and that was 10 years ago. All this talk about he has been the most consistent old school head. I don’t care about constency give me some greatness. Nas has one in a generation talent but has fallen short time and time again. I only enjoy three albums (Illmatic,Stillmatic, and God’s Son)during his twenty year career. Although, DJ premier was able to light a fire under Mr. Jones’ behind on songs like Nas is Like and Come and get me, and etc. This album puts me to sleep. This is an R&B album to me and Nas should be embarassed. He always had trouble with beat selection. His move to Def Jam has been disastrous to his career. Salaam Remi is an excellent engineer the sound quality is exquisite but his beats are beyond wack. No ID does excellent beats for Common, so that illustrates to me that Nasir Jones is the problem. He can’t get out of his own way. He is the Evander Holyfield of hip hop. Nasir should retire because he has not fight in him at all. He should be embarassed by the last 10 years of his career expecially this waterdown album he has released.

  • Model Citizen says:

    @The man the myth, Stoupe has been wack for like 10 years.There are plenty of underground producers who’s beats Nas would sound sick over, Stoupe is not one of them though.

  • Skins says:

    Doesn’t Stoupe make emo rock records now? I’m not asking to be an ass, a serious question. I feel like I saw something about that in the past year or so…

  • Dayz says:

    @Skins Stoupe has two LPs with female singers, the first was with Liz Fullerton and the group is called Dutch the LP was called Bright Cold Day. Seoond is with Lorrie Doriza the group is called Vespertina the LP was called Waiting Wolf. I found these two LPs to be absolutely amazing, not Hip Hop at all however. If anything sorta like Portishead but not really. I think Stoupe’s production has gotten so choice and he really has evolved passed conventional Hip Hop beats. I hope someday he will come back with some Boom Bap but he really is an incredible artist and these projects really show his greatness.

  • Model Citizen says:

    @Dayz, I haven’t heard either of those projects, and I love Portishead so maybe I could get into them, but his hip hop production has been wack for quite some time now if you ask me. All his beats started to sound the same.

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