I have not yet had the pleasure to listening to the album in full, but so far I've had the chance to listen to six or seven of the mastered LP cuts. So far, so good; anyone familiar with Nas knows that the last thing about him is that he never keep his music boring and predictabpe. There's elements of soul, R&B, gospel and of course loads of booming hip-hop, which, not suprisingly is in the forefront throughout the disc although it often branches out. "Life is Good" might not be Nas' best album, but I can't imagine it could end up as his worst either; besides the singles represent a lot of change, it's clear that he can still bring that true school sounding boom bap that will satisfy his longtime fans. Like the majority of Nas' back catalouge, the seven cuts released from the QB emcee's latest opus follows tradition, with a great blend of hardcore joints a´la the '90s (especially on the street singles "Nasty" and "Loco-Motive"), and more laidback and reflective cuts. From what I've heard so far, Nas is staying true to the grittier side of the 2012 sound, with a few banging throwback records sprinkled throughout its runningtiem. Fans and critics alike from both the US and EU has praised all four original singles, since the first was release in December last year; "Nasty" clearly is a track that both brings it back to were it stated, and is impossible to shake off once you first comes across it. As Esco takes it back to an intense, crazy cut with the emphazis on RAW; "Nasty" is slightly reminiscent of "Made You Look", and Nasir does a fantastic job bringing it back to his old school roots; without coming off ass a clihé; the same goes for Nas who absolutely killed three already memorable verses.
The next single, the ragga-influenced ""The Don" is more of a club track, yet it maintains a lot of integrity, making it suitable both for clubs, the vehicle or even your home stereo device. Salaam Remi is the credited producer with Heavy D and The Internz, so it's likely that Remi put the the finishing touches on the song after the fact, as Nas boost "Heavy D gave this beat to Salaam for me to rap too!". "The Don" is one of Nas' most succesful club records, and althoug, there's a lot of producers involved it doesn't sound cliché or forced at all. Long time Nas affiliate Remi (who has produced at the very least one song each on all Esco album since "Nastradamus") was involved in both first singles from "Life is Good". Not that suprisingly considering Remi's and Nas extremely underrated chemistry.
The next two single follows a similiar path, and are equally mindblowing as its predecesors. Veteran super-producer No I.D. handles work on both "Daughters" and the aforementioned "Loco-Motive". The firstmentioned is a more somber, laidback and effective joint; with a ill piano sample that has Nas touches on how his little girl, Destiny, is becoming a woman, taking an interest in boys, dressing as she like and so on. Definitely a track that parents with children of that age can relate to, and it's an overall great track. "Loco-Motive" reminds me a bit of "NY State Of Mind" in No I.D.'s production which is fitting considering how it's all about taking it back the '90s, sample based boom bap era; complete with ad-libs from Large Professor. I can definitely see this being mentioned as one of Nas' true classics in the future. About two weeks ago, another single was released from the project - "Accidental Murders", featuring bitch asss Rick Ross, I don't have a program to edit out his verse, but I included it anyways since it will appear on the album. It's a pretty tuff joint to say the least, Escobar style.
The next two joints have just leaked and I'm not sure whether or not they are official singles, or simply leaked; i know that "Cherry Wine" with Amy Winehouse was released to the radio, and only a couple of days later the Mary J. Blige assisted "Reach Out" hit the net as well. Since they both soon appeared in CDQ, I take it as official singles and decided to include them. "Reach Out" features the queen of hip-hop, and is produced by Queensbridge legend DJ Hot Day, together with Remi and R&B producer Rodney Jerkins. The track is definitely not your typical R&B-radio jawn; rather Hot Day makes use of one of the most classic samples hip-hop has ever heard, sampled by everyone from Tragedy Khadafi and Doug E. Fresh/The Furious Five & The Cold Crush Brothers to Foxy Brown and Mary J. Blige, DJ Hollywood's "Hollywood's World". Nas and Mary sounds fantastic over this gem, and it's great to hear Hot Day back in business. The final recent leak is "Cherry Wine", featuring the late, great Amy Winehouse, and I believe that this is the third time Nas, Amy and Salaam Remi has cooked up some heat. It's a laidback cut, and I long said that Winehouse's voice is one of the best and strongest in the industry, so I can't possibly hate on this joint. I wonder if this is from the same recording sessions as the Nas/Amy collabo that appeared on the singer's posthumous LP "Lioness". Whatever the case, it's another relaxing cut that to me is kinda reminiscent of one of my favorites from "Hip-Hop is Dead"; "Can't Forget About You".
Over the last few years, especially Salaam Remi has cooked up classic safter classic for Nas, and since he first appeared on a Nasty album in 2001 his contribution(s) has always been highlights of the LP. No I.D. is of course, not only one of the most prolif producers of our time, but also one of the best who still hasn't got the rightfull props he deserves. although he's of course a respected producer. Here the two main producers prety much equally split the albums production credits. The album is available everywhere, starting July 17, and will be the last Nas album to be released via Def Jam Records, and after hearing the singles and read the tracklist, this is a definite purchase for me. The additional producers to get their shine on "Life is Good" is, the almost always reliable J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, who lends a helping hand on the intro; legendary Queen's DJ Hot Day as mentioned above; Young Money producer Noah #40" Shebib even adds some additional work on the final cut; Swizz Beats got one placement, and last but defintitely not least the one and only Buckwild gets a sole production credit for his work on "You Wouldn't Understand". Judging by the singles/leaks and how this looks on paper I have very high expectations for "Life is Good". A line-up of No I.D. and Salaam Remi with additional contributions by Buckwild, JUSTICE League, DJ Hot Day, Rodney Jerkins and Noah "40" Sheibb combined with one of the best emcees in the game can hardly go wrong..
Seven tracks have now leaked, and the album only features fourteen tracks, not counting the Deluxe Version. The biggest mistake is that the one track that EVERYBODY loved; "Nasty", is left as only a bonus track on the aforementioned Deluxe/iTunes version which is a real shame which means that it most definitely will not appear on the vinyl release. Don't you just hate when they save some of an album's absolute best songs end up as a bonus cut,. FUCK THAT!! No matter what, this album got enough heat to warrant a buy either way, and I strongly encourage you to do the same. 'Til then, enjoy the leaks but make sure you don't play them out before the release. Enjoy brothers!