Google+ Beathearts: Nas - Life is good (Track by track)


Nas - Life is good (Track by track)

Nasir Jones just dropped his long awaited album Life is good. It's been a long time since we were this excited about a new Nas album and with the tunes that dropped before the album it sounded promising indeed. We normally don't do standard reviews of albums but since we've had our expectations up for such a long time we felt we wanted to release some of that tention through a track-by-track walk-through.

1.No Introduction (Prod. J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League) 2
Unnecessary. Not the best opener.
2.Loco-Motive ft Large Professor (Prod. No I.D.) 4
Still a solid head nodder for the people who are "stuck in the 90s".
3.A Queens Story (Prod. SalaamRemi.Com) 4 
Always had a weakness for storytelling rap tunes. Nice tune with original production from Remi.
4.Accident Murderers ft Rick Ross (Prod. No I.D.) 3
Ok track but I fail to understand how the only featured rapper on the album ended up being Rick Ross?
5.Daughters (Prod No I.D.) 4
Nice positive tune that sticks out in both production and the theme of the importance of beging present.
6.Reach Out ft. Mary J. Blige (Rodney Jerkins & SalaamRemi.Com) 4
Best performance in a while for Mary. Great choice for a collab.
7.World's An Addiction ft Anthony Hamilton (Prod. Salaam Remi) 2
First sub-par production from Remi. French producers mastered no-beat-beats 10 years ago...
8.Summer On Smash ft Miguel (Prod. Swizz Beatz) 2
I had high expectations for another New York Shit type (Busta) classic from Swizz Beatz. Fail.
9.You Wouldn't Understand ft. Victoria Monet (Prod. Buckwild) 3
Nothing groundbreaking but you gotta love the Miles Jaye sample.
10.Back When (Prod. No I.D.) 4
Solid reminiscent tune and production. This will probably grow.
11.The Don (Prod. Heavy D, SalaamRemi) 5
Without a doubt the best track off the album.
12.Stay (Prod. No I.D.) 4
Great late-night-driving-through-downtown-tune. Another grower.
13.Cherry Wine ft Amy Winehouse (Prod. SalaamRemi.Com) 3
Never been a Winehouse fan but nice production from Remi.
14.Bye Baby (Prod. SalaamRemi.Com) 5
My personal favorite off the album. Dope way to end the standard edition of the album.

Total score for standard edition: 3,5/5

15.Nasty (Prod. SalaamRemi) 5
Why exclude one of the best tracks of the year from the album?
16.The Black Bond (Prod. SalaamRemi) 4
Dope production and another story teller. Why only a bonus track?
17.Roses (Prod. Dan Wilson, Al Shux) 4
Original production and an unexpected experimental track from the man.
18.Where's The Love ft. Cocaine 80s (Prod. No I.D.) 4
Another great track that should've been included in the standard edition.
19.Trust (Prod. Boi 1-da) (iTunes Bonus Track) 4
Solid track in a different style than expected.
20.The Don (Don Dada Remix) (Japanese Bonus Track) 4
Ok, but unnecessary remix of the best track off the album.

Total score for deluxe edition with bonus tracks: 4/5

The verdict? 

Well, all in all Life is good is in my book Nas' best effort since Illmatic. However, that stands for the Deluxe edition with all bonus tracks. The fact to exclude four of the best new tracks from the standard edition is not done out of love for music. I've got no facts to back this up but it smells label politics and marketing tactics and won't do Nas any good in the long run. Let's keep our fingers crossed that future copies of the album will include all bonus tracks and this might have a chance to end up becoming a rap classic in a few years.

Our take-away tracks off the album are:

Nas - Bye Baby (Prod. Salaam Remi)
Man! I must admit that before these new Nas tunes I haven't really paid attention to Salaam Remi's production skills. But with bangers such as Nasty, The Don and now Bye Baby he's defintely on my radar.

Bye baby is the bastard child of that Teddy Riley 80's sound (Goodbye Love 1988) and an early south London dubstep acetate (e.g. Doc Scott/Nasty Habits - Shadow Boxing). Fantastic tune that gives me the same kind of sensation as when I first heard Biggie for the first time on a crackling boombox in the summer of 1994.

Nas ft Mary J. Blige - Reach out (Prod. Rodney Jerkins/Salaam Remi)
Like Nas put it on LocomotiveI I may be "stuck in the 90s" but I'm just a sucker for that Isaac Hayes sample from Ike's mood. One of the best uses to me was Rayvon's No guns no murder (1994) but here Nas and Mary put on a great performance over that funky bass/piano combo.

Nas - Nasty (Prod. Salaam Remi )
"I’m not in the winters of my life or the beginner stage, I am the dragon Maserati, pumpin’ Biggie, the great legend Blastin’, I’m after the actress who played Faith Evans My little Jackie Onassis, dig?"

Nasty was the first video off the album Life is good but for some reason not on the album. (It's a bonus track on the deluxe edition). The track is produced by long time collaborator Salaam Remi. For Nas he has produced tunes like I can, Get down, Made you look and many others. It's great to hear Nas rhyming over a dirty breakbeat again. The video kind of reminds us of the feeling when Biggie's Juicy dropped and it was just what we were hoping for after remaniscing to Elzhi's Elmatic project last summer. It's got that same boots-on-the-concrete-street-corner-vibe we came to know Nas for.

Nas - The Don (Prod. Heavy-D & Salaam Remi)
Produced by the late Heavy-D this hard, straight forward beat with a ragga twist got our heads nodding from the first bars. We took our eyes of Nas and he brings back this New York banger that floored us when we least expected it. One of the baddest tunes of the years. No doubt.

Nas - Daughters (Prod. No-ID)
The third single off the album. It's entitled Daughters and is a dedication to to all fathers that try to be good role models for their daughters. Produced by No-ID this is a conscious slow banger.

Bonus material:
As a bonus and to wrap things up, here are two great documentaries about the man.

The first documentary is called Nas - Behind the music and was recently aired on VH1. It's his personal reflection of his career's ups and downs so far with added comment from the likes of Q-Tip, Common and DJ Premier.

Last but not least here's Nas ode to the old cassette mixtapes recorded the latest joints from radio back in the day. Courtesy of TDK Chronicles. Ah man, I just to stack up on those even though BASF Chrome maxima II was my choice :)

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