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Hip-hop heavyweight Nasir “Nas” Jones released his 10th album, Life is Good, on Tuesday.
Since his start in music — and the 1994 release of Illmatic, his first album — the Queens rapper has undoubtedly been considered one of hip-hop’s reigning fathers. His consistency as a musician has enabled him to generate the same attention for Life is Good, 18 years after his debut.
Here’s what the critics are saying about his latest release.
Billboard says, “In a time where hip-hop lyricism is dominated by luxury rhymes, it’s refreshing for one of the genre’s most influential artists to explore himself and his life before us.”
Nas is noted for his raw rapping talents, addressing issues of life and lessons through his rhymes. Nas is considered to be one of the greatest rappers of all time, and Life is Good seems to be testament to that.
Cristina Jaleru of The Huffington Post says, “Producers No I.D. and Salaam Remi give this very personal record an aura of nostalgia, a throwback to the golden age of hip-hop, by using classic beats. Collaborations with artist like Mary J. Blige, Rick Ross and Swizz Beatz and Nas’ solos arrange themselves into a coherent necklace made of discreet gems. Old mixes with new, noir enters the flow and the lyrics are tinged with both vulnerability and brutality.”
Nas proves he isn’t afraid to tamper with his personal life in Life is Good. The cover of the album shows Nas sitting down in an all white suit holding what seems to be the green dress his ex-wife Kelis wore on their wedding day. After a very public divorce, Nas tackles what everyone is already talking about, not only throughout the album, but even on the cover.
Randall Roberts of The LA Times says, “Life is good, indeed, or at least Nas has gotten better at rolling with the punches — and you can hear it in every verse on the 58-minute album. A thoughtful, fierce, honest and — most important — heavy-duty work. The album shows a man not only comfortable in his own skin but tapped into his muse and willing to tackle the many tough matters he’s endured since his previous, untitled album in 2008.”
On the other side of the spectrum, Entertainment Weekly isn’t impressed with Nas’ nostalgic tone on Life is Good. Ray Rahman says, “As Tony Soprano once said, ”Remember when’ is the lowest form of conversation.’’ Sadly, onetime wunderkind Nas falls into that trap on his 10th album…Too many tracks here recount his salad days in the era ”before Air Jordans.” EW graded the album a B-.
The Washington Post, however, finds that Nas’ album stays true to what makes him such an excellent rapper, admiring and acknowledging his growth. “Nas is the same master wordsmith as he was when he first bowled over critics with his 1994 debut Illmatic. He tackles thug life, chrematistics and the pursuit of status, yet shows signs of growth by considering more personal topics like parenthood, love and his relationship with his celebrity.”
Life is Good is available now.
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