“Loco-Motive” f. Large Professor
Despite getting the highly successful collaboration with Damian Marley in 2010, fans have waited a good bit for a new solo album from Nasir Jones. Life is Good, a personal album with overt references to his split with Kelis, may or may not continue his platinum-selling streak — but it’s a return to form either way.
Though the album doesn’t carry the racial and sociopolitical overtones of his untitled album from 2008, Nas already has caught flak from a different ex over his single “Daughters,” a public response to a public Instagram post by his teenage daughter. Jones ruminates on his shortcomings as a parent, one who couldn’t fault his suddenly “of-age” daughter if she were to run with hustlers like he used to be.
The most obvious tracks about Kelis — whose green garment adorns the cover — come later, in the forthright rhymes of “Bye, Baby” and the heartbreaking, more metaphorical “Roses.” There’s a train-wreck fascination with the dirty laundry, particularly in “Bye, Baby,” but it has more similarities to failed relationships than many might admit.
On the production side, the best efforts come from Salaam Remi. His work almost single-handedly carries “A Queens Story,” “World’s an Addiction,” and “The Black Bond,” where a plethora of string, piano, and horn melodies craft orchestral backings that aren’t melodramatic or stock. (Side note: “A Queens Story” samples Frédéric Chopin.) No ID provides more soulful if generic production, but the album’s few negatives come from the lengthy run time (18 tracks on the deluxe version) and “Summer on Smash,” an unnecessary ode to scantily clad women.
Still, there’s more than enough to like about Life is Good, and other guest spots (Common, Rick Ross, and a posthumous appearance by Amy Winehouse) keep things interesting.