Life Is Good is Nas’ taking stock album, reflecting on his past, his relationships, his daughter, his money and his legacy, both on the street and in the industry. Hip-hop is not known for longevity among its stars so if money and status flaunting, philandering, party animal rappers who are in their prime and have come from nothing are to be celebrated, where does that place Nas? He has, by his own admission, been richer longer than he was ever poor. He’s pushing forty and still referencing cars. It’s boring at this stage.
High points come few and far between, ‘Daughters’ shines, not only as a decent track but as a
blueprint for what Nas should be doing. He speaks passionately about his struggle as a former player trying to instill some moral direction in his 17 year old daughter. Of course it’s much more interesting than any bling-whinery or tedious ghetto tales.
Album guests Mary J Blige and Amy Winehouse both offer respite from Nas’ tedious waffle. Blige in particular sounds great on ‘Reach Out’ but Nas’ narrative is directionless. Between thoughts regarding his worries about the future he includes the line, apropos of nothing, “love the skinny model chicks but I love the thickness”; it’s simply filler. Winehouse drags a bit of life out of Nas on ‘Cherry Wine’, opening up about the kind of woman he wants in an all too brief moment of clear honesty.
Any decent points are levelled by Summer on Smash, an embarrassing attempt at a party track, hip-hop you’d expect from an anonymous sub-Pitbull Miami club rapper. “Bad bitches, champagne bitches …life is good”, he’s convincing no-one. In terms of his life he is a long way from the man he was during Street Disciples and Illmatic, but that’s just age. His flow and rhyming are impeccable as ever, but without the content it’s a just waste. He’s living in the past and convincing no one but himself.