RapHead Album Review: Nas "Life Is Good"

by Contributing Writer: 
Shaun Evans

RAPHEAD.com - It’s been a few years since Nas released an album. His last album, “Untitled” was his most political and controversial due to songs like “Sly Fox,” which addressed why conservative right wing show host Bill O’Riley and Shaun Hannity are so critical of President Obama. The album was originally titled, "Nigg*" and caught the attention of Rev. Al Sharpton, who stated no one should use the "N" word at all, especially for an album title. Nas and his wife, R&B singer Kelis (Milkshake), were unmoved by the controversy as they both sported "Nigg*" t-shirts on MTV.

Later on, Def Jam intervened and the album name was changed to, "Untitled." Unfortunately, by the time “Untitled” hit the stores, Kelis had filed for divorce. She took everything from their home except her green wedding dress which Nas is holding on the cover of “Life Is Good.”

The year of Nas' divorce was filled with public feuds over child custody and property tax issues. Many music critics wrote him off as an old school great MC who caused his own downfall. Nevertheless, on Nas' tenth studio CD, “Life Is Good,” he states that he’s in a good place. Hence the title.

One thing I have always enjoyed about his music is that he uses it as a platform to express his cultural feelings, even if his peers have issues with the message. Nas has always been the kind of guy who would rather be hated for what he is opposed to, than being loved for what he’s not.  This courageous and admirable stance continues in his most transparent album, “Life is good.” On “Bye Baby,” under a Guy sample, he speaks on how happy he was when he and Kelis got married, and his admiration of her beauty. Nas states,

“Bye baby, I guess you know why I walked away, when we walked to the altar it was an awesome day, did counseling, it couldn’t force me to stay, I tatted you on my arm so brothers would know, I thought no one would stop us, I was your Jonny Depp, you were my Janice Joplin.”

Other than Nas’ nice flow, he also addresses those who questioned his marriage. He says,

“I see suckers , cowards speaking under their breath saying why did Nas trust her, but look at yourself; you live with your baby mother afraid to make an honest woman out of her at least I can say I tried. I even enjoyed the ride.”

In a bad divorce, Nas never puts blame on Kelis or disrespects her. This is refreshing, especially nowadays when there is so much negative language used toward women.
Another transparent song is, "Daughters," where Nas tends with the issue of his teenage daughter writing a letter to a prison inmate. He doesn’t want to be judgmental; he just wants his daughter to choose wisely. But, he admits that he may not always be the best example. Nas goes on to say she posted a picture on twitter of a box of condoms.

“At this point I realized I’m not the strictest parent, I’m too loose and too cool with her, should've spent more time with her, one day she your little princess, next day she talking boy business. What is this? They say the coolest players and foulest heartbreakers in the world; God gets us back by giving us precious little girls.”

Beyond being transparent, Nas has always been one of the best poets in Hip Hop.  For example, “Nasty," has a fast poetic flow and it’s reminiscent of a 1988 flavor with beat breaks and scratches. On “Reach Out” featuring Mary J. Blige, it’s a nice team up with a track that sounds like Mary's first album, “What’s The 411.”Overall, it's a good song, and should be a radio hit.  Nas deals with the materialistic state of the world in, “World’s Addiction” feat. Anthony Hamilton. Then on "The Don," he addresses his love for New York City with a reggae dance hall beat. Dance hall clubs could easily play this song all night. He even gives a shout-out to dance hall stars of the 80s--Super Cat and the late great MC Heavy D. One of the best guest vocals on the CD is by the late singer, Amy Winehouse, in the song, “Cherry Wine.” This song deals with the demands of being in the public eye, and has a jazzy background tone.

I’ve been looking forward to the "Life Is Good" album for a while and I’m not disappointed.  It has a nice flow and a lot of good guest appearances. His classic first, “Illmatic” had no guest appearances and became a Hip Hop Classic. I believe “Life IS Good” will also be considered a classic, but only time will tell. I’m really impressed by Nas and his music. For a forty-year old rapper, on his tenth album, Nas' flow has not lost a step.  The ITunes deluxe version of “Life Is Good” has nineteen songs and two videos (the Don and Daughters). After issues with The IRS, a messy divorce, being attacked by Fox news and others, Nas has come forward with one of 2012's best albums.

Out of 5 stars, I’ll give it 4 and a half.
If you love great hip hop music try “Life Is Good.”  

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