Critiques

Life is Good – but is it great? OFFICIAL NAS REVIEW

Written by Wil

LiG doesn’t break any new ground – it’s simply good music. There’s no groundbreaking concepts like I Gave You Power or Rewind. There’s no storytelling as vivid as Shootouts. There’s nothing lyrically on the level of NY State of Mind or Memory Lane. There’s no all-time classic record that can touch If I Ruled the World. There isn’t an all-around song as good as One Mic. I’m not sure how many, if any, of these tracks will eventually be considered amongst Nas’ best. I can see Cherry Wine, Worlds an Addiction and Bye Baby getting some consideration, though I think they’ll settle into that second tier of songs, much like the album itself.

Here is my list of Nas’ Top 25 Songs (Life is Good songs excluded):

 

I have a tremendous beef with us. I spend hours on twitter every day hearing people complain about “real hip-hop”. Complaints that everything is about girls and money or violence and drugs. Everything is about that bounce. There are no more lyrics in hip-hop. No insight. Hip-hop is Dead.

Then Common drops a beautiful, musical, lyrical album – and it gets ignored. Sells a handful of copies and, despite critical acclaim, is basically a flop. He gave us what we asked for and we let it pass. We downloaded it, praised it with our tweets, and then moved on. We paid far more attention to his beef with Drake than we did to the album that he spent months crafting.

Lupe Fiasco drops one of the most brilliant albums of the decade in Food & Liquor, then does almost the impossible and drops another album at or near the level of the first! They were lyrical. They had good production. They were creative, conceptual and told all sorts of stories. They were refreshing. Lupe was quickly hailed as one of the most pure emcees in hip-hop.

Both of those albums, however, were only marginally successful from a sales standpoint. The label forced him to put out Lasers – an album that catered to a more casual fan base. Fans revolted. Lupe went to war with Atlantic. In the end, he released what the label had asked and it easily became his most successful album based on sales and charting measurements. Yet, fans lambast Lupe every day for releasing Lasers. He’s “fallen off”.

Truth is – we don’t support these “real hip-hop” albums. We give Common no choice but to create Universal Mind Control. We force Lupe to rap over techno beats. And then we blame the artist. We want them to make the type of music that we want, even if it means them sacrificing their livelihood, yet we choose not to support it. We want everyone to stay underground forever.

Either there aren’t enough of us to support natural hip-hop music or we don’t want to put in the effort. Either way, we shouldn’t blame the artist. We should blame ourselves. We, as fans, dictate what we hear – not the labels or radio. Their job is to create and promote what people will support financially. Labels are looking to generate sales and tour revenue, and radio is looking to raise ratings to sell advertisements. The listeners dictate that, yet we point the finger at every chance we get.

That was a prelude to this album. Nas has, in my opinion, the greatest hip-hop album in history on his resume with Illmatic. It’s a gift and a curse. It’s a curse because everything he ever released after it is unfairly compared. But it’s also a gift because I don’t think any other artist could’ve survived the disasters that were The Firm and Nastradamus and still maintain any semblance of relevance. It Was Written is a great example of the impossibly high standards that Nas faces. Looking back? That album was really remarkable. But because of the expectations set, it was met with bitter disappointment from most fans – even though it enjoyed commercial success. Once we remove the shadow of Illmatic, were able to appreciate it for what it is: a truly great album. It’s just not Illmatic 2, which is all anybody ever wants from Nas.

I usually stay away from leaks from albums that I’m really anticipating, but in this case, they were necessary to even have me excited. I was a huge Nas fan for about eight years. As time passed, I became disconnected from his music. I haven’t really anticipated anything of his since God’s Son. I usually like a handful of songs on each album, add them to my Best of Nas playlist, and then put the album to the side.

But the more I heard these Nas leaks and features, the more hopeful I became. Every song, for the most part, was strong. I was worried that these were just the highlights, so I remained skeptical.

With that said – let me finally get to the album.

This album is vintage Nas. He’s finally back to just rapping. No more awkward pauses or slow deliveries to try and satisfy a base that doesn’t really support him anyway. Gone is the stingy Nas who, like Joe Budden, believes that his words are so great, there’s no need to invest on production. Many times, Nas has done away with big name producers in favor of lesser-knows or up-and-comers. His production and hooks have been his Achilles heel throughout his career. He seems to finally have realized this. The bulk of the production is handled by No I.D. and Saalam Remi, with J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Swizz and others also contributing. And the hooks were mostly handled by some of R&B’s most respected vocalists, including Anthony Hamilton, Amy Winehouse and Mary J Blige. And they all compliment him well. The production is open and musical, but with enough drive in the drums to keep the pace moving well. The vocalists relieve the pressure on Nas and let him focus on what he does best – deliver insightful verses.

Where the album suffers a bit is in the fact that it’s sometimes hard to decipher one song from the next. While I prefer this mood, especially for Nas, it does suffer a bit from the same thing that hurt The Dreamer, The Believer, Ambition and Take Care. Sure, Loco-motive and The Don help give the album life, but the entire middle portion of the album has a similar vibe and mood. The topics might not be diverse enough for most listeners. Personally? I like it. I don’t mind an album with a consistent theme, though I can see how some people will get bored a bit

Lyrically, this is as good as I’ve heard him in a long time. He’s not trying to sound smarter than his listeners. He’s rarely talking about subjects where he’s out of his comfort zone. He raps about Nas. And who can talk better about a person than themselves?

I need to be careful. Am I judging this album fairly, based on what it really is? Or am I grading it on a curve and really saying “compared to his last few albums…” That’s why I really needed to sit with it for a bit and absorb it.

I had a majority of this review written before the weekend. I’m really glad that I took a few extra days though to compose my thoughts and be more objective than my initial couple dozen listens. There was an excitement in hearing Nas return closer to form than I had heard him in a decade. Life is Good is head and shoulders above any other Nas project to come out since Stillmatic.

But that’s exactly my problem. It’s more on the level of God’s Son than it is Illmatic, and I need to keep reminding myself of that while grading this album. See, I consider Illmatic his best album (best album in hip-hop history, actually), followed by It Was Written, Stillmatic, Lost Tapes, then God’s Son. Time will ultimately tell, but I feel that Life is Good will slot right between Stillmatic and God’s Son. It’s a very strong album front to back, with very few skip-able tracks. But there is a huge disparity between this and his first two albums. Lyrically, musically, conceptually – those first two were on a completely different level. I challenge anyone to listen to LiG and then listen to or read the lyrics on IWW and Illmatic. You’ll easily see the disparity.

Life is Good is especially impressive when you consider it comes 18 years after Nas released debut. There is no denying that Nas is one of the all-time greats. If you were to put Nas’ best 50 songs against any other artists’ best 50? Nas would undoubtedly be in the top two.  But that isn’t how we judge artists. We assess them based off their entire body of work. And unfortunately, Nas has had many missteps. There are Nas supporters who liked most of his discography, but the general consensus of hip-hop fans would argue that Nas’ last good album was God’s Son (some would even say Stillmatic). Street’s Disciple, Hip Hop Is Dead and Untitled all had very lukewarm receptions.

I’ll always wonder how different Nas’ career might’ve been if his double disc I Am…Nastradamus (The Autobiography) would’ve been released as planned. For those who don’t know the story, the double album leaked out early (before leaks were expected) and was heavily bootlegged. Sony then decided to release I Am… as a single disc and release disc 2 later in the year. They cut a bunch of the album’s best records and had Nas record a few new tracks (K-I-S-S-I-N-G). Most of the songs that were cut could later be found on the incredible Lost Tapes. Instead of releasing those tracks on the new disc, as originally planned, Nas wanted to record entirely new material. That’s how we ended up with the forgettable Nastradamus.

Imagine if Nas followed up Illmatic and It Was Written with an album that featured NY State of Mind 2, Fetus, Nas is LIke, Blaze a 50, Undying Love, Drunk by Myself, etc.? He would’ve had a three-album-run only rivaled by Eminem, Mobb Deep and A Tribe Called Quest. Even though I Am… was solid, it’ll always be ruined to me because of what could’ve been.

Matter of fact, here’s my personal list of how Nas’ albums rank against each other:

Illmatic (1994)                  10.0
It Was Written (1996)        9.0
Stillmatic (2001)                8.5
Lost Tapes (2002)            8.5
Life is Good (2012)           8.0
God’s Son (2002)             7.5
I Am… (1999)                    7.0
Untitled (2008)                  6.0
Street’s Disciple (2004)   5.5
Hip-Hop is Dead (2006)  5.0
Nastradamus (1999)        3.5
The Firm (1997)                2.5

*Distant Relatives – I didn’t listen to this album enough to intelligently rank it.

LiG doesn’t break any new ground – it’s simply good music. There’s no groundbreaking concepts like I Gave You Power or Rewind. There’s no storytelling as vivid as Shootouts. There’s nothing lyrically on the level of NY State of Mind or Memory Lane. There’s no all-time classic record that can touch If I Ruled the World. There isn’t an all-around song as good as One Mic. I’m not sure how many, if any, of these tracks will eventually be considered amongst Nas’ best. I can see Cherry Wine, Worlds an Addiction and Bye Baby getting some consideration, though I think they’ll settle into that second tier of songs, much like the album itself.

Here is my list of Nas’ Top 25 Songs (Life is Good songs excluded):

  1. I Gave You Power
  2. One Mic
  3. The World is Yours
  4. N.Y. State of Mind
  5. The Message
  6. Life’s A Bitch
  7. Shootouts
  8. Memory Lane
  9. You’re Da Man
  10. It Ain’t Hard to Tell
  11. Undying Love
  12. Fetus (Belly Button Window) original
  13. If I Ruled the World
  14. Project Windows
  15. Rewind
  16. Black Zombies
  17. Nas is Like
  18. Ether
  19. Affirmative Action
  20. Made You Look
  21. I Can
  22. Black Girl Lost
  23. Thug’s Mansion
  24. Silent Murder
  25. Purple

And his top 10 feature appearances:

  1. Eye for an Eye
  2. Mo Money, Mo Murda, Mo Homicide
  3. Verbal Intercourse
  4. Thug Calm Down
  5. Self Conscience
  6. Fast Life
  7. John Blaze
  8. Phone Tap
  9. Music for Life
  10. How Ya Livin’?

Overall, I think Nas dropped a very capable project. It was his most personal record since his debut. My favorite Nas is “Nas the Narrator”. I love hearing him tell stories. I really enjoyed this album. For him to drop this at this stage of his career is a true testament to his greatness. There have only been a few better, in my opinion. It’s an enjoyable project, but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking this is as good as he’s ever been. It’s no better than his third or fourth best album – though it would be almost any other artist’s best. But this isn’t the time for highlighting the negatives. Today is a day for celebrating a legend. For celebrating “real hip-hop”. Today is the day we step up and tell the labels and radio exactly what type of music we demand. Today, we all do our part to bring art and insight back to hip-hop.

Please leave comments about the album and my Best Of Nas lists. I would love to hear your own top 5/10/25 songs and albums. Let’s get a great, old-school hip-hop debate going!

@culturevi

PS – I’m also working on a Jay-Z article that will review and rank all his albums, as well as discuss his top 50 songs of all-time.

PS2 – You might also enjoy these articles:

Reasonable Doubt vs. Ready to Die
Watch the Throne: Hip-Hop’s Thriller?
The Miseducation of Drake (Take Care review)

I Guarantee It’s A Classic (Wale: Ambition review)

About the author

Wil

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  • e’s Top 5 Songs:
    1) One Mic
    2) NY State of Mind
    3) Life’s a Bitch
    4) It Ain’t Hard To Tell
    5) Undying Love

    e’s Top 5 Albums:
    1) Illmatic
    2) It Was Written
    3) Lost Tapes
    4) Stillmatic
    5) Life Is Good

    • It’s difficult to argue with opinions, but how do you not have I Gave You Power in your top 5?? To me, that’s a top 5 song in hip-hop HISTORY – never mind Nas’ personal catalog.

      • Ya know, I actually thought long and hard about putting that track in my top 5, but for whatever reason that I could never figure out, it didn’t impact me as much as I thought it would. It’s definitely top 10. I think the biggest reason I don’t have it higher up there is because all my homies like it and I like being different, so I subconsciously didn’t hit repeat as much on it.

      • Okay, bruh. I concede. You’re right. I played It Was Written mostly when I was just outta high school and not as keen on production as I am now in my older age. I figured it out. The High School E was looking for a more engaging beat, but perceived as monotonous. The Current Day E realizes the err in my ways.

  • Just added it up. This is the breakdown by album for the top 25 songs:

    Illmatic: 5 (all in the top 10)
    It Was Written: 7
    Stillmatic: 5
    Lost Tapes: 3
    God’s Son: 3
    I Am: 1
    Nastradamus: 1

  • Completely agreed on the I am… Nastradamus point. That album could have been a CLASSIC. Lost Tapes was unreal, and I am… Was damn good. It’s unfortunate that it leaked, but i really wish that Sony woulda just said screw it and still released it. My question is – and I don’t intend to spark a jay/nas debate – but does this prove Jay’s “one hot album every ten year average” line? And how does that affect how he’s viewed in terms of the greatest of all time list? I think Nas is up there, and Illmatic is also my personal best hip hop album ever, but like you said – he has to be judged on his entire body of work. So he’s got a few very, very good hip hop albums with more mediocre projects than that. I would like to think that an album this good (I don’t want to say a lot about my thoughts bc my review is coming tomorrow) would only improve his standing, but an album this good also makes me even more disappointed in HHID, Untitled, etc.

    • I think this album was extremely important for Nas because, in my opinion, his last 10 years have been littered with most of his worst albums. 1994-2002 were his best albums and songs, whereas everything after that has been his least impressive work. Having one of his better projects this late in his career was vital.

      Look at his songs. Of the top 25, I don’t have ANY within the past 10 years. Jay-Z has been far more consistent. His most successful song was Empire State of Mind – which was on 15 or so years after his debut. American Gangster is among his best. His best songs and albums are scattered throughout his career, where Nas’ are concentrated all in the early portion.

      I’m a Nas fan, so I’m happy that he was able to create something this great this late in his career.

      • Compeletely agree there – Jay hasn’t made anything, in my opinion, as bad as Nas’ worst stuff. He hasn’t touched Illmatic, but he really doesn’t have to at this point.

  • For the record, my opinion is allowed to change based on relevance during a particular period, personally. Example, Daughters will have great significance when my 8 month old daughter gets older. Ha!

    • Create a list of Nas’ best songs. You can’t tell me Lost Tapes has more classic Nas records than It Was Written. Lost Tapes was dope. But go listen to or read the lyrics on IWW.

      • I agree that It Was Written has more of Nas’ best songs, but overall I enjoyed Lost Tapes more. I’m a young’n so I don’t have the experience of getting Illmatic, and then hearing It Was Written, and so on and so forth. I basically heard all of Nas’ albums from 94-2004 when I bought all of them in a month and did nothing but listen to Nas for like 3 months. So to me, IWW had many classic records, but Lost Tapes gave me more of that initial feeling that Illmatic did. It Was Written and Stillmatic are interchangeable to me at 3+4 tho.

  • I definitely agree Illmatic is the best Hip Hop album ever made. Look at the producers on it, on top of Nas rhyming.

    I think the Distant Relatives album has kept him relevant this late in his career – by opening him up to a wider audience, just like Jay-Z started leaning towards Indie music to keep relevant with his last album. Therefore I would rate that as an 8.5.

    I’d be interested to see how the “hip hop’s dead” people rate the album. Music needs to evolve, the 90s are gone, unfortunately. The subject matter hasn’t really changed though over the last 15 years. If anything, champagne and bling style rap have only saturated the industry even further! I’d like to see a change to that, which is why it’s a shame the Common album didn’t do so well.

    • I actually think that in the past three to four years hip hop has been getting better and better. Yes bling and that shit has saturated the mainstream, but there is a LOT of hip hop coming out that’s going against the grain and the industry in general. Kendrick Lamar, Ab Soul, honors english, big KRIT, Freddie Gibbs and a whole bunch of others have really gotten me excited again for hip hop, not to mention legends like Nas and Common are sounding better than they have in years. I can’t wait to see where we go from here, but I think we can all rest assured that hip hop is far, far from dead

      • I know all the names you mentioned, but haven’t given the time to any of them, must admit. I’m off to check them out – I hope Hip Hop ‘aint dead! Thanks…….

  • Top 5 Nas Albums
    5. Nastradamus
    4.Illmatic
    3.Lost Tapes
    2.Iam
    1. Stillmatic

    Top 10 features
    10. Can’t forget about you
    9.Hustlers
    8. Black republicans
    7.Favor for a Favor
    6.Life is what you make it
    5.phone tap
    4. Just a moment
    3.Last words
    2.Mo Money
    1.The Flyest

    Top 25 songs
    25. made you look
    24. Black Zombiws
    23.Cant forget about you
    22. one love
    21get down
    20A message to the feds
    19Nazareth Bronze
    18Project windows
    17we will survive
    16k-i-s-s-i-n-g
    15 2nd childhood
    14getting married
    13remember the times
    12Ether
    11we will survive
    10 the message
    9one mic
    8 flyest
    7undying love
    6 Doo rags
    5i gave you power
    4stillmatic
    3book of ryhmes
    2Nas like
    1 Rewind

      • @kinging52 yeah I know! LOL! It came out in a point of my life where hip hop wasn’t doing anything for me. Just being real (and I already told cultureVI that he was going to get mad), but illmatic began to get stale for me towards the middle. I love it, but stillmatic is so balanced and has his best tracks on there. As far as Nastradmus, how can you forget about “Life we chose”, Project windows, God Love Us or even shoot em up?

      • There’s that, and how is life’s a bitch and ny state of mind not on there? I guess I’m just confused that Illmatic isn’t number 1 haha. I’m not used to being confronted with this kind of situation.

  • @kinging52 yeah I know! LOL! It came out in a point of my life where hip hop wasn’t doing anything for me. Just being real (and I already told cultureVI that he was going to get mad), but illmatic began to get stale for me towards the middle. I love it, but stillmatic is so balanced and has his best tracks on there. As far as Nastradmus, how can you forget about “Life we chose”, Project windows, God Love Us or even shoot em up?

  • I’ll put it like this, I feel like there were more creative and better storytelling songs on Nastradmus than you guys remember. Stillmatic is by far a long shot from all the other albums. Street disciple could have been one disc and I love lost tapes, it actually felt like classic nas

  • @kinging52 Would it make more sense if i said I’m from the south, so the illmatic feel didn’t grab me as much as it was written and the others did? Once again, not saying I didn’t like it…justsaying it didn’t have as much diversity as the others.

  • I think Life Is Good is top 3 Nas!! A classic album. The overall body of work is incredible!! You gotta put “War” “Nazareth Savage” in your top 25!

  • Wow, you have so many Nas songs in you top 25 as me. I think your list matches a lot with mine!

    Here goes mine (Life is Good excluded)

    01. I Gave You Power
    02. You’re Da Man
    03. N.Y. State of Mind
    04. My Way
    05. Hate Me Now
    06. Nas is Like
    07. One Mic
    08. Dance
    09. Fetus
    10. It Ain’t Hard to Tell
    11. N.Y. State of Mind pt. 2
    12. Smokin’
    13. Affirmative Action
    14. Undying Love
    15. Represent
    16. Phone Tap
    17. Made You Look
    18. The Message
    19. Stillmatic Intro
    20. Don’t Body Yourself
    21. Eye For An Eye
    22. Live At The BBQ
    23. Shine On
    24. Film
    25. Star Wars

    I think future classics for this list from Life Is Good will be: Nasty, Loco-Motive & The Don

    Other mentionable tracks i really love:

    – Who Are You
    – Rule
    – Come Get Me
    – Life’s A Bitch
    – The World Is Yours
    – Where Ya’ll At? (Bboy Mix)
    – Less Than An Hour
    – Give It Up Fast
    – Rewind
    – Hip Hop Is Dead
    – Hero

    • I agree with a lot of what you put, though I hate My Way (not hate, just don’t enjoy) and Smokin’. Nas produced that one, didn’t he? Never liked that record. Thanks for taking the time to post this though!

  • Very good review. I agree that it’s not fair to compare everything Nas does to Illmatic. He is at a different point in his life right now and he can’t go back to his Illmatic style as much as us true fans wish he could. I also agree with some of the above comments that his greatest work was earlier in his career and that the past 10 years have been questionable for Nas. Not just because of the beat selection on his albums, but because he struggled to remain relevant with his fan base while winning over new fans all while trying to outdo the huge shadow that Illmatic seemed to have cast over his subsequent career.

    However, with this new album I think he finally found that balance that eluded him so much after his strong debut. Even though true fans enjoy It Was Written, a lot of people were disappointed with it upon its release. Partly due to it not being Illmatic 2, and partly because it was more commercial sounding than the gritty and soulful New York rap that Nas brought to the forefront of hip hop.

    And also to the above comments as well, Nastradamus was not a bad album. Call me a Nas stan, but I honestly have gone through the album several times and there are some true gems on there. As mentioned above, Life We Chose, Last Words, Project Windows, God Love Us. There were some questionable songs such as the singles, Nastradamus and You Owe Me, but how is You Owe Me any different than Summer on Smash from Life is Good?

    Overall, I agree that it is too soon to call this album a classic in this day and age, especially since albums seem to come and go much faster than they did back in 94 or even 5-6 years ago. What I will say is that this album is the best hip-hop album I have heard in a very long time. In comparison to Jay-Z as mentioned above, Nas has always been the better lyricist and while Jay-Z has had a better ear for beats and deciding which songs to release as singles, there is no way he could ever touch the depth of lyrics that Nas has been blessing our ears with for years, even if the songs themselves suffered from lack of good production or poor sequencing on the albums.

    • I’ll call you a stan if you think Nastradamus was anywhere close to good lol. It had a few songs, but most of it was horrible. I’m not even talking about the singles. The songs were just so forgettable and sometimes just plain bad. He wrote and recorded the entire thing in a few months, and it shows.

      Jay-Z is a MUCH better than Nas (more on that in another post), but Nas is better than 98% of other hip-hop artists.

      • Haha I knew the stan comments were coming from the Nastradamus reference. I used to think it was horrible too but I took some time away from it and picked it up again a year or so later and it was a nice listen. Maybe there were other personal factors influencing my taste(my disgust with the state of hip hop at that time) but I really feel that it gets more hate than it deserves. It is his weakest album because it does feel rushed and incomplete overall.

        As far as Jay being much better than Nas, I cannot agree with that. As I said earlier, Nas lyrics are deeper than anything Jay has put out. Jay has some introspective material, such as the Black Album which is a great release, but I never was personally moved by Jay’s lyrics. He’s got some ill word play but the subject matter of Nas’s material is on another level. Now when it comes to commercial appeal, beat selection and putting together an album for the time period, Jay is the clear victor, and I could see where some people would say he’s better than Nas. But for me, lyrics is key and the way Nas puts together verses and has tracks that mean something either political, social or just telling a raw hood tale, Jay can’t touch that.

      • I don’t think you’ve spent enough time with jay’s discography then, if you think that lol. I love nas, raved over this album in the review I wrote, and have been a huge fan for years. Jay definitely has all of those styles of songs. New Day? Ignorant Shit? Justify My Thug (which a lot of people hate but I loved, sans the chorus)? My 1st Song? December 4th? And that’s without even going earlier than the black album. Regrets? D’evils? Lucky Me? Jay has those styles of tracks in spades, and he never sacrificed beat selection for his albums.

        This is where it gets to jay stan vs nas Stan, and I understand your points, but to me, jay has nas trumped in every major category except Illmatic.

  • Great read my man. Agree with your list of Nas albums as mine is basically that exact same order although I would probably have Lost Tapes ahead of Stillmatic. You had me nodding the whole time……..UNTIL you left out a song that should IMO be in every Nas fan’s top 10 songs nevermind top 25, the always slept on CLASSIC/TIMELESS “Take It in Blood”! I’m assuming you simply forgot to add this as you seem like a pretty knowledgable hip hop head. I’d also have “Blaze a 50”, “Haltime”, “One Love”, “Represent” (although on the low Elzhi’s Represent may be better & IMO elzhi is the dopest emcee in terms of 2005-Present & technically one of the illest ever, but that’s another discussion) in my top 25 as well.

    Agree Eminem has the best 3 LP streak in the history of hip hop & along with Nas the best prime ever (96/97-02/03 for Em & 94-02 for Nas). Love your comment about what could/should of been if Lost Tapes was added and apart of “I am” (which is still pretty solid on it’s own) bc then he & Em (all time my 2 personal favs in their PRIMES followed by G Rap, Black Thought, Pun, Big L, Pac, Elzhi, Rakim, & Pharoahe Monch). Follow back @SportsComedyRap

    • I love Take it in Blood too. It doesn’t crack my top 25, but is definitely in that next ten. It’s very difficult pulling 25 songs from an artist with 10 albums and countless features. I love lists though because everyone has an opinion so it stirs great debate.

      Eminem and Mobb Deep, to me, have the best 3 album run. Tribe is right behind them. Nas doesn’t to me. DEFINITELY doesn’t if you count The Firm. Even without it, I Am… takes him out of the conversation.

  • brilliant review! it’s early, but I think it’s his third best album to date, behind Illmatic and IWW, just ahead of Lost Tapes and Stillmatic. I agree with absolutely everything you said in the precursor to the review as well, hip hop heads are so loud and proud on the message boards, but every artist and album they support so vigorously in the comment section is a dud on the sound scan. we’ve got to do better

  • Bro if I wasn’t so sure of where I’ve been and what I’ve done the last few days it would be hard for someone to convince me that I didn’t WRITE this article… Salute!

  • You know, i’ve been a hard core Nas fan since Illmatic, as many of you have. But in all honesty, i’ve always had that vioce in my head that said….’do i like him more than i love him’? And if so…why? To me…Nas is the best…to me! I love many artist, but Nas always makes me feel like im in the epicenter of his mind. Regardless of how many times he’s come sub par, i always gave him a pass bc of how gifted i knew he was. But this article is beautiful in a way that assist me in understanding my own personal feud with Nas as an artist. Regardless of his past, at the end of the day, Nas is still one of the best to ever do it, period! Dope article 6! Proceed!
    PS Please support this man’s efforts! He may not be an artist, bit he’s a purist for the art form. Lets support it!

  • Great review Wil. I’ve enjoyed every article or rant I have read of yours, even though I might not always agree, it’s always a good read! Life is Good is Good to me but not Great to me. Just my opinion…but I do think you should keep writing and I think you have a bigger audience than you know, just not everyone speaks up. Hope you get that Dundee one day.

  • “am grading it on a curve and really saying “compared to his last few albums…” That’s why I really needed to sit with it for a bit and absorb it.

    I AGREE think the problm is that everyone is comparing Nas music now with Illmatic that was years go he was hungry raw n young& he made his statement it was heard indeed. His 38yrs now n ur expecting the same thing AFTER A DECADE. ever had of a word CHANGE. a lot has happened in the hip-hop industry his been absent & he drops an exceptional album for his fans called LIFE IS GOOD & all of yoll here arguing about his past albums. THATS the WELCOME BACK ATTITUDE u give him. do u think thats the kinda response he should be looking forwad to especially from his “FANS”

    STOP COMPARING HIM TO JAY-Z his Escobar,Nasir,Nas n Gods Son PERIOD.

  • I believe everyone has their own opinion when it comes to his albums and songs… with that being said my top 5 albums are:
    1.Stillmatic
    2.I Am
    3.Illmatic
    4.Gods Son
    5.Life Is Good.

    some of my favorite tracks are: (just to name off the top of my head) getting married, drunk by myself, your the man, rewind, destroy and rebuild, smokin, ether, (basically all of stillmatic except a few), Virgo, SHOOT EM UP, undying love..ETC. I just love ALL of nas even if some of his songs weren’t the best.

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