Life’s ride takes us up hills, down into valleys and often into strange territories. And such is the theme of Nas‘ tenth studio album Life Is Good, which was released today. It’s the NYC rapper’s first LP in four years — not to mention his first since his divorce from Kelis. But as the title implies, he doesn’t dwell much on any lingering bitterness.
Critics found that, while it may be a challenge for some of Nas’ old-school fans to feel the same euphoria over the 38-year-old’s output as they did when he was 20, Life Is Good is in aptly-titled album that proves the MC still has something left to say. Catch our roundup of reviews below.
:: In our own review, we note Life Is Good plays like a retread — which isn’t a bad thing: “Life is Good isn’t just for trapped-in-the-’90s listeners, and it isn’t simply a midlife crisis album. It’s Nas sounding 10 years younger, in an apt reminder of, simply, what works.”
:: The Los Angeles Times feels the album’s title is appropriate: “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.”
:: New York’s Daily News notes, “The recent controversies in the icon’s life seem to have brought out in him a mix of the philosophical, the nostalgic and the inspired. Nas’ new lyrics feature some of the densest, smartest rhymes in a career full of them.”
:: All Hip Hop touts the LP as a proper comeback: “It has been said that Nas was unable to catch a victory; from the situations involving his very public split with his ex-wife, Kelis, to his daughter’s misuse of Instagram, it’s easy to interpret the building missteps as losses. However, Nas has a way of giving hope to his fans even in those times… After a few leaks, the entire album is upon us to dissect, and it may be one of the few times where it’s a good thing to believe the hype, as Nasir delivers in almost every way possible.”
:: The Versed adds, “From start to finish, Life is Good is full of the unpretentiously insightful and impressive lyricism that showcases the skill and vision that made him one of the most influential artists in hip hop’s history. But, the subject matter has changed dramatically. It’s a lot more focused on the personal issues that Nas has been facing, and they aren’t as tied to many of the subjects that are common in some types of popular hip hop. That isn’t a ‘bad’ or ‘good’ thing, but for fans looking for ‘street’ rap, this isn’t going to be their favorite Nas project.”
:: The Huffington Post is feeling it: “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.”
:: MTV’s RapFix sums it up with this: “As a whole, Nas’ latest represents 17 years of growth and maturity, without obnoxiously screaming, ‘Look at me! I’m grown and mature!’ While drastically different from his 1994 debut, there is something especially majestic about Nasir’s 2012 release, and hopefully it grows a little more special with each passing year.”