Hip-hop veteran Nas is back this week with Life is Good, his tenth studio album. We’ve previously heard the singles ‘Nasty‘, ‘The Don‘ and ‘Daughters‘, not to mention seen performances on Fallon, Letterman and Colbert, and now you can stream the entire LP below. Listeners familiar with Nas’ back catalogue know him as a tremendously talented but frustratingly inconsistent rapper who has struggled to live up to the massive expectations which followed in the wake his brilliant 1994 debut Illmatic. Those fans will be pleased to hear that Life is Good is Nasir Jones’ best and most consistent album since 2002’s God’s Son, at least. This may be thanks to the guidance of legendary producer/Kanye-mentor/Def Jam vice president No I.D., who produces 14 of the tracks here and succeeds in his plan “to make a soundtrack that allowed Nas to be Nas.” Whether he’s glancing back at his past and mythology on ‘Back When’ and ‘Loco-Motive’, delivering virtuosic and incisive NYC tough talk on ‘Nasty’ and ‘The Don’, sweetly and awkwardly addressing his daughter’s coming-of-age on ‘Daughters’, or remembering his ex-wife Kelis on ‘Bye Baby’, Nas is in terrific form throughout. He has compared Life is Good to Marvin Gaye’s classic album Here, My Dear, which also chronicled the dissolution of a marriage, and the album cover (above) pictures the rapper holding his ex-wife’s wedding dress – the only thing she left in the house after their divorce. Guest appearances include Mary J Blige, Rick Ross and Amy Winehouse, but the real story here is that Nas is back, and Life is Good is one of the finest late-career hip-hop albums in recent memory.
Life is Good is out now. Stream it below.