x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Nas ponders his role offstage in Life is Good

At 38, Nas is four years younger than the King of Hip-Hop, Jay-Z, yet he seems preoccupied with growing older on his latest album.

Life is Good
Def Jam

Nas has chosen to name his 10th album Life is Good, but he may as well have called it I'm Getting Old. At 38, he's four years younger than the undisputed King of Hip-Hop, Jay-Z, yet almost every track betrays a fixation with growing older.

Take Daughters, a heartfelt reflection on that age-old fatherly concern - when daddy's little girl becomes a woman. It's not unusual for a rapper to lavish affection on their loved ones in songs, but when the man who wrote Shoot 'em Up confesses to worrying about what his daughter is getting up to on social networks, you know something has changed.

Even his rare gangsterish boasts seem to have an air of nostalgia about them. The album's beats could hardly be called cutting-edge either, from the intentionally retro Nasty, to the scratch-laden Loco-Motive.

Even the somewhat contemporary-sounding Cherry Wine ends-up feeling like an ode to an earlier time; the rapper recorded the duet with Amy Winehouse shortly before her death. But despite entering his pipe and slippers phase, Nas never sounds tired. This may not be an album destined to reinvent hip-hop, but the rapper has lost none of his ability to craft potent and engaging tunes.