NAS' "Life Is Good"; True Artist At Work
As a TRUE artist does, NAS makes music when he feels it in his heart and has some jewels to drop on us, instead of pumping out commercial garbage for the radio.
QUEENS DAY in RUCKER PARK...RETURN of NAS the DON
It's a steamy Tuesday evening when I'm at Rucker Park in Harlem, recently. The day NAS' 10th studio album, "Life is Good", is being released.
The bleachers are packed with his fans from all 5 boroughs; but of course Queens is extra heavy on this particular day. DJ Supastar Jay is providing the soundtrack. He bangs a mix of NAS' hits from the classic "Ain't hard to tell remix" to the new banger "The Don", as the spectators bop their heads and lip sync their favorite verses.
Team Certified and Team T.N.P. are putting on a show of their own--sick handles shake the defense and a trick pass leads to a high-flying slam, "Oooh!" Street-ball at its finest. As the teams sprint back down the court a familiar voice is heard through the speakers, "Bye baby, I guess you knew why I walked away"...Enters NAS mic in hand, dressed in a green New York t-shirt, jeans, aviator shades, neck & wrist aglow and waves on 360 with the fresh line...typical NAS.
"20 years in the game, lookin' 17". He walks on the court, pausing the game. "My bad, my bad y'all. New York what up?" The crowd erupts! It's more than evident that NYC loves GODSON.
In 2002, on this same day, NAS shot the video for "Made you look" on this same court. Ten years later Nasty NAS has matured into NAS the Don and is sharper than ever. This album is quite reminiscent of the young, chipped-tooth NAS with his tech on the dresser, whose debut "Illmatic" changed Hip-Hop forever and forced veteran Emcees to salute the new kid on the block. He clearly went back to the essence when he wrote this album.
When you press play be prepared to go on a Bentley ride through the concrete jungle narrated by NAS' awesome story-telling, soundtracked with his lyrical genius over dope beats and features from artists such as the Large Professor, Rick Ross, Mary J. Blige, Anthony Hamilton and Victoria Monet.
From rugged beats by Salaam Remi on tracks like "The Don", that force you to bang your hammer fist, to smooth-tempo'd tracks like "Cherry Wine", his collabo with the late Amy Winehouse, and "Summer on Smash" ft Swizz Beats and Miguel, NAS gives his fans just what they expect. On joints like "A Queens Story", that pays homage to some of Queen's fallen soldiers (E Money Bags, D.U., Black Jus), "Back When" with it's nostalgic melody and "Reach Out" ft Mary J. Blige which puts you right on Jamaica Avenue & 165th St. on a summer day listening to a DJ Clue Mix-tape...it's all classic NAS. Then there's "Accident Murderers" ft. Rick Ross, erasing any doubt that even as a veteran he is more than capable of flowing with the new school. "Stay" and "Loco-Motion" are both produced by and feature the Large Professor who first introduced us to Nasty NAS and created that hypnotizing melody for "Ain't hard to tell".
Throughout the album he raps about a plethora of socially conscious topics, beginning with the introduction "No Introduction". For the first time he shares HIS personal story. In "Daughters", an ode to his own, Destiny Jones, NAS discusses the trials of parenting a teen-aged girl. "Bye Baby" talks about his previous marriage to singer Kelis. He doesn't sound bitter or angry, but rather at peace. He seems to be embracing the growth one experiences from life's trials.
As a TRUE artist does, NAS makes music when he feels it in his heart and has some jewels to drop on us, instead of pumping out commercial garbage for the radio. "I don't care about Hollywood or the Entertainment Industry. I make music for the people...REAL Hip-Hop!" Nasir Jones' mantra has evolved from "Life's a Bitch" to "Life is Good", and indeed it IS good to hear new material from one of the greatest Emcees to ever to hold a mic. The return of NAS the DON was well worth the wait.
"LIFE IS GOOD" rating: ****