Thursday, July 19, 2012

Life Is Good: Busby's Review

In my opinion, the 4 rappers that made the biggest impact in hip-hop right now are Eminem, Jay-Z, Nas, & Kanye West.  Out of those 4 rappers, nobody is more critical on one rapper then Mr. Nasir Jones.  Just 18 years ago, Nas dropped what many considered the greatest hip-hop album of all time called Illmatic.  After that album many people have been comparing his next 9 LP's to his debut album.  Many have considered his sophomore album It Was Written to be the closest thing to top how great Illmatic was. Other then that, a lot of people were agreeing with what Hov said on Takeover, Nas only drops 1 hot album every 10 year average.  Having your first album be a classic album is a pretty heavy load to have on your back.  It just seems like no matter what you put out, people will ALWAYS compare it to your classic work.  In Nas's case, some feel that he peeked way to early at a young age, and it just seemed like he never had that same spark.

In my honest opinion, Nas has always been one person..himself.  He has never tried to be something that he is not.  He has always stayed true to himself, and doesn't really give a damn about album sales, or what anybody else thinks.  His only true goal in life is just to rap, and that is all he ever wants to do. Nas has been in the game for damn near 20 years and he is one of the most respected emcees in the game today.  He has dropped classic records, from the One Mics, to the I Give You Powers, to the If I Ruled The Worlds, to the Ethers and the Undying Loves, Nas's track record can go on. In my honest opinion, Hip-Hop Is Dead and Untitled are really underrated albums.  There is a reason why people call Nas one of the greatest rappers to ever touch the mic and it is a very good reason.

Life Is Good is Nas's first solo album in 4 years.  Despite dropping the criminally slept on Damian Marley collaboration album Distant Relatives in 2010.  Nas's life was pretty much going in a downward spiral.  Nas was going through a very bitter and ugly divorce with Kelis, which ended up with him paying over $5,000 in child support.  To make matters worse, Uncle Sam was knocking on his door, and he found out he had to pay $6.5 Million in back taxes.  And to put insult to the wound, his daughter Destiny was posting very juvenile things on her social network sites, that made people question Nas's parenting.  Through out ALL that, you would think Nas would fall off and sink into a depressed state.  Instead, it lit a fire in him and lead to him dropping one of the best hip-hop albums of the year.  Nas wanted to show that through out all that, he came back stronger then ever, he is happy and Life is good..

The tales you hear is the truth of me...
 Let me just say that the first 5 songs on this album, Nas comes out SWINGING.  With the booming J.U.S.T.I.C.E League orchestrated autobiographical track, No Introduction.  To the trapped in the 90's inspired sound of Loco-Motive (which features words from Large Professor).  To the Salaam Remi orchestrated cinematic New York sound of A Queens Story.  No I.D's booming cautionary record of Accident Murderers, which also features Rick Ross who is the only featured rapper on the album (who also had a good verse).  Then with the 5th record, he dedicated to his daughter Destiny entitled Daughters, which is also one of the main highlights of the album.  With those 5 tracks the album could have easily been an EP and I could have been happy with that.  However, the album just got better..

No I.D and Salaam Remi really drove this album production wise, and also really cleared Nas's ears when it came to beat selection.  With songs like Reach Out (feat. Mary J. Blige), You Wouldn't Understand (feat. Victoria Monet), and Back When.  Nas went back to that 90's sounding flow and content, it sounded like something he would have released back in his It Was Written/I Am days.  Nasir also dropped that knowledge on you with songs like World's An Addiction (feat. Anthony Hamilton), and the No I.D. smooth production record of Stay.  The 2nd verse of that track is one of the real highlights of the album and is some real shit.

Even though I don’t like you, next Friday night can’t wait to fight you
Locked up I would knife you, don’t fuck with you
Last month I even bucked at you, you got locked
I felt bad, wait, do I got love for you?
I might kill you, but do I got love for you?
I want you dead under 6 feet of soil
At the same time, want you here to witness me while you in misery
We hate each other, but it’s love, what a thug mystery
Years ago they ate the heart of a slain enemy
We enemies, but your hatred could never enter me
Some seek fame cause they need validation
Some say hatin’ is confused admiration
Spotlight on me, I still look twenty
Still get money, lady killer pushin’ a Bentley
Maybe niggas could see too much of they failures through a nigga who realer
I don’t like you near bruh, but I need you to…
Now the only downside record I can say about this album is Summer On Smash which features Swizz Beatz and Miguel.  It's a really booming cliche Swizz Beatz type of record, but Nas does shine on the record.  I can see the record getting HEAVY radio play during the summer, but other than that it is what it is.  One of the highlights of the album is Cherry Wine which features the late Amy Winehouse.  With production by Salaam Remi, everything about that track is perfect.  It pretty much sounds almost like a duet, even with Amy's little scatting in the end.  It just reminds us that we truly lost a true talent with Winehouse.

The final track on the standard issue of the album is also the most personal track entitled Bye Baby.  Co-Produced by Drake's producer 40, Bye Baby is Nas telling the story of the roller coaster relationship with his ex-wife Kelis.  For 4 minutes, Nas goes through his entire relationship from the very beginning to the bitter end.  Bittersweet record, but it was a very mature way for Nas to put everything behind him and close that chapter in his life.

Now the 5 bonus tracks are just as good as the regular album.  With Nas going back to his Nasty Nas roots on Nasty.  To Nas getting his James Bonds swag on with Black Bond, and the P.S. "fuck you" letter to Kelis on Roses (even through he doesn't say her name, but it's obvious).  Nas gets Cocaine 80's to assist him on Where's The Love which is produced by No I.D, which is another very good record.  The real highlight of the bonus tracks is Trust, which is produced by Boi-1da and shows that Drake isn't the only one with trust issues.

This was a VERY good album, so good to the fact that I actually went out and BOUGHT this album.  The first album I bought in over a year, and Nasir deserved every bit of money I spent.  You can tell he took his time to construct a very consistent and very well thought out album.  Nas is at a really good place in his life right now.  You can really tell on this album that he is in a better place and is happy.  Nas can NEVER make another album like Illmatic, it's just not possible.  The only thing he can do is be himself and mature, which is exactly what he has done in the past 20 years.  Life IS good...and without further is MY personal favorite track from the album...

Busby's Review: 4.5/5

~~Mr. Busby~~

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