Life Is Good
It was 1994 when Nas released his debut album Illmatic, which helped strengthen the on-the-rise East coast hip hop scene all the more. Since then, he has released nine more albums, almost all of them being the same level of dynamic quality as his debut. Sure there were slumps here and there, a few rivalries sparked up (most infamously with Jay Z), and the birth of his mainstream success, but none of these things have ever seemed to phase Nas. He has always seemed to stay consistently on par making his own brand of jazzy, instrumental-based hip hop with tack sharp, socially poignant lyrics flowing over the back beats like wine through the gullet of Dionysus himself. The only thing that seems to separate Life Is Good from the rest of his albums is that it took him two extra years than it normally does for Nas to put the album out. Not that he took the time to recreate himself in any large way, but maybe to recover from the loss of some friends, the divorce from his wife Kelis (which is a primary theme in the album), and to try and figure out his place in hip hop once again, which I believe is still near the very top.
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Lioness: Hidden Treasures
We all knew it would come out eventually, it was just a matter of when. It’s a hard pill to swallow that Amy left so early in her career with so much promise in her future. She was only getting started, but it never really seemed like she was going to be able to pull herself together enough to become truly successful, or truly happy. Many bands have come and reworked the sounds of the 60’s into modern rock once again (ie The Strokes, The Hives, The Redwalls, Dr. Dog) But Amy and the pioneering team of producers behind her were spearheading the revival of that beloved Motown sound that had been missing in music for over 40 years. It was brilliant … She was brilliant. Unfortunately her untimely death has ceased any further progress, but rather than letting the unfinished demos/recordings lay wasted on their hard drive, producers Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi have hand picked and reworked a few tracks for Amy’s first posthumous compilation album, Lioness: Hidden Treasures. Both brilliant producers have their fingerprints all over this album, essentially constructing/producing every track on the album aside from two (“Wake Up Alone”, “Body and Soul”).
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