Nas
Life Is Good


3.5
great

Review

by Sobhi Youssef EMERITUS
August 3rd, 2012 | 83 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A notable continuation of a late career resurgence

Contrary to popular critical assessment, Life Is Good is in no way some triumphant return to form for Nas; it is merely a continuation of his latter career success story in a consistent sequence of solid records. To his dedicated acolytes it's no secret the time frame between genre classic Illmatic and the turn of the millennium was not good to Nas, either in terms of quality or record sales. 2001's Stillmatic was not only retaliation to Jay-Z's classic "Takeover" observational diss on this drop-off, but also succeeded in resuscitating his dying career. While not necessarily redefining or essential listening (except probably The Lost Tapes), each following album has followed this model of using simple beats as a vessel for Nas's nearly unsurpassed lyricism.

Life Is Good fits in as a retrospective piece in the same vein, yet with more impressive production that takes cues from 80s pop almost as much as the Golden Age. Justice League-produced "No Introduction" immediately demands attention with a sweeping orchestration and a drum heavy breakdown, shining an evident spotlight and introducing Nas better than any extraneous skit could. Veteran beatsmith (and VP of Def Jam) No I.D. handles primary duties, instilling a sense of quality control that wasn't really present throughout 2008's Nigger. The improvement is obvious on tracks like "Loco-Motive" that find revitalized spitfire rhyming over a gritty beat, truly emulating the experience of a late night train robbery. Album highlight "Reach Out" takes an 80s approach on the beats, but the track would feel at home just as well on a Fugees record (albeit with Mary J Blige on vocals instead).

While his lyrics may not make complete sense and can be hypocritical at times, Nas is on top of his game with Life Is Good. In terms of flow and literary/ poetic devices, his skill is unparalleled, at a minimum on that same higher level as Raekwon and DOOM. On "Loco-Motive" he raps about pizza burning his mouth - a lesser rapper would struggle making this interesting and coherent, but Nas somehow excels. Comeback single "Nasty" is an all-out brag rap attack that would not have been out of place on Illmatic. The only blemish to an otherwise solid track list comes with Swizz Beatz-produced "Summer on Smash", a club track that tries so hard to be catchy but stumbles and falls short (not surprising with Swizz Beatz who has really done nothing of merit lately). But overall, Life Is Good is a poignant statement; even though Nas is rich, famous, and pushing 40, he not only recalls his roots, but still has relateable issues with which to connect to his fan-base (most notably his divorce with Kelis, whose wedding dress adorns the album's cover). Hopefully his beat selection maintains this quality going forward as that is indeed the only variable for an emcee as automatic as Nas.



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Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
thecreative0ne (4)
When you listen to this, you'll be saying "Life Is Good"....

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Comments:Add a Comment 
breakingthefragile
August 3rd 2012


2962 Comments


Great review Sobhi. Agree with the rating especially, I gave this a 3 originally on the grounds that Nas came off as just downright mean-spirited and vulgar on this. I thought about it though, and this is a very different kind of record for him, even if it's not his best and made to cater to his ego more than anyone else.

Storm In A Teacup
August 3rd 2012


13167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Great review, certainly well written, but I disagree with most of your opinions.

Casablanca
August 3rd 2012


262 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review. I think because I was listening to his previous few albums recently, I liked it a bit more.

I don't understand the hate for Untitled though. To me, it's better than Stillmatic.

Digging: Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2

breakingthefragile
August 3rd 2012


2962 Comments


I agree Casablanca, I liked Untitled a lot. Out of all the albums he's put out in the 2000's, I think that's one of the best. As for Stillmatic though, I honestly believe that album is MASSIVELY overrated, I think it's the second weakest effort he's ever released.

Hep Kat
August 3rd 2012


15351 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

pretty much summed up how i feel about this in the first sentence

Storm In A Teacup
August 3rd 2012


13167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I feel like the deluxe edition should be added to the database. Those 5 songs are better than 75% of the regular track list.

Perplexion
August 3rd 2012


127 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review although I disagree with the ending thoughts. Nas is greatly underrated and this is one of the most remarkable albums he's put out in recent memory.

Storm In A Teacup
August 3rd 2012


13167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

The bonus tracks make this album close to 4.6 for me, but the regular edition is around a 3.9.

breakingthefragile
August 3rd 2012


2962 Comments


Well, since you just became a contributor, allow me to give you the first pos you've gotten in awhile.

Storm In A Teacup
August 3rd 2012


13167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I thought he was staff lol

kingsoby1
Emeritus
August 3rd 2012


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Must be some kind of bug. Lol, thanks!

breakingthefragile
August 3rd 2012


2962 Comments


Rofl welcome to the team man! xD

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
August 3rd 2012


23923 Comments


wtf contributor?

god damn this site is glitchy.

Digging: RATKING - So It Goes

klap
Staff Reviewer
August 3rd 2012


10510 Comments


not a glitch we decided we'd had enough of sobhi youssef

Digging: Caribou - Our Love

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
August 3rd 2012


23923 Comments


fair play. the guy never writes reviews anyway so whatever.

qwe3
August 3rd 2012


21369 Comments


yeah fuck you sobhi

qwe3
August 3rd 2012


21369 Comments


(i like the review)

DarthMann
August 3rd 2012


13818 Comments


ahahahaahah

macadoolahicky
August 3rd 2012


1835 Comments


Sobhi it, then.

Omg, see what I did there?

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
August 4th 2012


10302 Comments


Contributor what what what



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