Nas1 Nas1

5 Reasons "Life Is Good" For Nas On His New Album

By now, we hope that you've had a chance to sit and listen to the new Nas album, Life Is Good—the tenth studio album for Nasty and his first solo project since 2008's Untitled. It is, as the title suggests, really, really good. From the lead single, "Daughters," to the emotional "Bye Baby," which details the Queens MC's breakup and divorce from ex-wife Kelis, Nas has a real gem on his hands. This album has to be one of his best, right?

We'll leave the debate over where Life Is Good fits into Nas' catalog to you guys. But, to help him celebrate the release of his new project and to prove to you just how highly we think of it, we do want to let you know a few of the things that we love about the album. So, we put together a list of the 5 Reasons "Life Is Good" For Nas On His New Album. Whether you're pressing play on the album for the first time—or the 50th time—these are just a few of the reasons Nas is winning with Life Is Good.

Reason #1: No I.D. (pictured above) and Salaam Remi handle the majority of the album's production.
The last Nas album, Untitled, had a few solid beats on it. But, for whatever reason, Nas decided to work with a different producer on almost every single song. From Jay Electronica and Mark Ronson to Polow da Don and stic.man of Dead Prez, Nas featured a different producer on every track. That led to an album that, at times, felt really disconnected. That's not the case on Life Is Good. It features a handful of No I.D. beats and a handful of Salaam Remi beats that pull everything together and make the album sound cohesive. Kudos to Nas for going that route instead of simply pulling beats from all of the of-the-moment producers out there.

Reason #2: The changes in Nas' life give him plenty to vent about.
From the troubles he's had raising his teenage daughter to his very public divorce from Kelis, Nas has gone through a lot since the last time we heard from him. It probably was pretty painful for him when he was going through it. But, now that he's come out on the other side and had time to reflect on it, he's put a lot of it into his music to show that he's not all that different from everyone else. He has problems. He struggles with things. But, he works through them and eventually learns from them. As a result, life is good for him now. That's a message that everyone can relate to.

Reason #3: Nas recognizes what rap fans want—and he's still able to give it to them.
"This is for my trapped-in-the-'90s n-----!" Nas says at the end of "Loco-Motive," which sees him reunite with Large Professor. And, he's right—the song does sound like something that Nasty Nas would have created back in 1994. But, it also sounds right at home on Life Is Good and doesn't sound forced at all. It's certainly not the first time Nas has pulled that off. But, it is nice to know that, even 18 years after his debut, Illmatic, Nas can still create the kind of stuff that leaves fans reaching for their rewind button every 30 seconds.

Reason #4: Nas outshines Rick Ross on the album's lone guest appearance by a rapper.
Was this really smart on Nas' part—or just a coincidence? Either way, Ross, arguably the hottest rapper in the country right now, makes an appearance on the standout track, "Accident Murderers," and gets outshined by Nas. That's not to say that Ross doesn't hold his own with a rap legend. But, that is to say that Nas proves that he can still hang with (and, at times, outshine) the new guys when he raps alongside of them. Not all rap vets can say that today. But, for Nas, it's a challenge that he still welcomes.

Reason #5: The good easily outweighs the bad on Life Is Good.
Is Life Is Good perfect? No. There are some missteps on the album. For instance, we're still not sure whether or not we can rock with the Swizz Beatz track, "Summer On Smash" and there are several R&B-tinged songs that don't sit well with us. But, every time we run into a problem, we just play "Cherry Wine," featuring Amy Winehouse, or "A Queens Story" or "The Black Bond" or "Roses" or…well, you get the point. Those songs let us know that Nas put work in to make sure that Life Is Good would be good. And, he definitely succeeded.

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Premiere: 12-Year-Old Rap Princess That Girl Lay Lay Introduces Tha Slay Gang With Fun "Long Hair" Video

It all started with some freestyle raps in her Dad's car that went viral on social media, now Houston's 12-year-old superstar rapper, Alaya High aka That Girl Lay Lay, is poised to take over the teen market and y'all grown-ups need to watch ya back too!

With an infectious hook game and bars that topple stars, Lay Lay burst onto the scene in 2018 with a crowd pleasing appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. That's the same year she dropped her Tha Cheat Code music project to adoring fans that were clamoring for a full body of work from the energetic artist. Having laid claim to signing a record deal as the youngest female rapper ever to her own label, Fresh Rebel Muzik/EMPIRE, Lay Lay is wasting no time in bringing her girls on this ride with her.

Pushing their first single, "Long Hair," Lay Lay and her two bouncy "Tha Slay Gang" group members, Sweets (hailing from South Carolina) and Sugar (repping North Carolina), are sure to dominate every pre-teen birthday, graduation and youth celebration party from here on out. The uptempo track is fun, super engaging and chorus friendly for the hyper masses. Lay Lay explains, "This is one of my favorite songs because its fun and something everyone can dance to. It’s about my friends 'Tha Slay Gang' and I sticking together, working hard and not getting into any drama! We try to demote bullies, and show the world that working hard pays off.”

The video takes place at a neon'd out roller skating rink, with the ladies leading a group of kids in a lit chant of the vocals and letting off one liners galore like: "I don't want no drama/If you go dumb then I'mma go dumber/hot girl winters and hot girl summers/If you knew me Daddy I'm Balenciaga Momma!" Just got to love the kids.

Check for Lay Lay in national tv commercial campaigns with Old Navy

and Mitsubishi.

So much more is on the way for this uber talented MC.

 

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Dave J Hogan

New Music Friday: Eminem, Mac Miller, Dreamville And More

Eminem fans were greeted with a pleasant surprise today, with 20 new tracks from the rap legend. But there's plenty of new music this week: Mac Miller fans are left with a final musical memory from him, Dreamville revamped their Grammy-nominated compilation, and Thundercat released a new single with Steve Lacy and Steve Arrington. Look below for today's New Music Friday.

Mac Miller – Circles The passing of Mac Miller in Sept. 2018 was one of the toughest losses that hip-hop has had in years, with the rapper/singer/producer’s kind spirit and immense artistic growth touching the lives of many. Today, his legacy continues with the release of Circles, his first posthumous album. According to a note from his family, Mac was “well into the process” of recording the Jon Brion-produced album, which was meant to be a companion piece to Swimming, the last album he released months before his death. Apple Music | TIDAL

Eminem – Music To Be Murdered By In the first major surprise release of the year, Eminem has surfaced out the blue with Music To Be Murdered By, the follow up to his 2018 surprise release Kamikaze. Eminem tweeted that the album was inspired by filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, and the 20-track final product has guest appearances by the likes of Young M.A., Juice WRLD, Black Thought, Q-Tip, Anderson .Paak, and a partial Slaughterhouse reunion. Apple Music | TIDAL

Dreamville – Revenge of the Dreamers III: Director's Cut The Dreamville crew’s Revenge of the Dreamers III compilation made history in 2018, uniting over 100 musicians from around the world for a “rap camp” in Atlanta and earning a Grammy nomination in the process. Now, they’re releasing a deluxe edition with an extra 12 tracks from the same lineup that made the first edition special. Apple Music | TIDAL

Thundercat - “Black Quails” Jazz maestro Thundercat announced a new album this week, and the beautiful first single “Black Quails” has him playing and singing alongside Steve Lacy (of The Internet) and Steve Arrington. Apple Music | TIDAL

2 Chainz ft. Future - “Dead Man Walking”

Bad Boys For Life Soundtrack Will Smith and Martin Lawrence reunited for the third installment in their hit Bad Boys buddy cop franchise, and DJ Khaled flexed his superstar rolodex for the film's soundtrack. Meek Mill, Rick Ross, City Girls, The Black Eyed Peas, Pitbull, Nicky Jam, and more make contributions. Apple Music | TIDAL

Stretch and Bobbito + The M19s Band – No Requests Stretch and Bobbito are largely known for hosting the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show, a New York radio program from the 90s that welcomed many of the greatest rappers ever before they officially blew up. But they're music fans first, and their new album showcases their tastes to brilliant effect: the two DJs compiled a playlist of their favorite songs to DJ, and then they enlisted the handpicked M19s Band to play them live. Their foundation is hip-hop, but No Requests is a diverse set of Latin, afrobeat, samba, jazz, reggae and soul. Apple Music | TIDAL

Theophilus London – Bebey Theophilus London’s new album, Bebey, is “a celebration of self-love and represents a return to Theophilus' roots, inspired by his Caribbean heritage and the Brooklyn neighborhoods he grew up in, steeped in Dominican, Puerto Rican, Jamaican and his native Trinidadian traditions,” according to a press release. Tame Impala, Lil Yachty, Ian Isiah, Raekwon, Giggs, Ariel Pink, Gemaine, and Kristian Hamilton provide guest appearances. Apple Music | TIDAL

070 Shake – Modus Vivendi Many music fans discovered 070 Shake with her standout vocals on the G.O.O.D. Music run in 2018 with Kanye’s 2018 album Ye (“Ghost Town,” “Violent Crimes”), Pusha T’s Daytona (“Santeria”), and Nas’ Nasir (“Not For Radio,” “Everything”). Since then, the rapper/singer has been steadily taking her time to drop her G.O.O.D. Music debut, Modus Vivendi. Apple Music | TIDAL

Madlib and Oh No – The Professionals Recent years have seen all-time great producer Madlib enjoy critical acclaim after his two albums with Freddie Gibbs, and this year he's teaming up with his blood brother Oh No, a talented producer and rapper in his own right, for an album called The Professionals. Apple Music | TIDAL

Raekwon – The Appetition Three years after his stellar album The Wild, Chef Raekwon has teamed up with Red Bull to release The Appetition, a three-song EP of new songs with producers and songwriters from Red Bull Songs and created at Red Bull Studios in NYC. Apple Music | TIDAL

Tech N9ne – Enterfear Level 2 =One of the most prolific rappers of all time, indie or otherwise, Tech N9ne follows up his 2019 studio album N9NA with the EP ENTERFEAR Level 2. Apple Music | TIDAL

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Che Pope interviews Vincent “Tuff” Morgan, peermusic’s head of A&R urban/pop, on Q&A With Che.
HiStudios

Che Pope Talks ‘Q&A With Che’ Podcast, Kanye West, And Why He Left G.O.O.D. Music

At some point in your career, you want to pay it forward. Regardless of the industry you’re in, there comes a time when you reached a certain level of success and want to groom the next generation with your knowledge and expertise. Che Pope, a Boston native, veteran music producer, songwriter, and former head of Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music, is in a position to do just that. After spending seven years with G.O.O.D., as well as making music with critically-acclaimed artists like Lauryn Hill, Dr. Dre, and The Weeknd, Che Pope has utilized lectures and podcasts to discuss his diverse career, sharing a perspective tailored to young creatives who want some mentoring in their own paths. Pope’s experience allows him to give gems in all aspects of the music business – no matter if you’re an aspiring manager, producer, singer, or artist, he has a piece of advice that can apply to you. 

It’s why he’s finally launching a podcast of his own called Q&A With Che, a HiStudios Original, that’s available on the Himalaya app, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more. He describes the show as “Ted Talks with the urban entertainment industry,” using his large network of friends for real conversations on how they made it. The format is more for educational purposes and using the platform to expand his Q&A section of his discussions, with each guest detailing what they do, how their industry works, and their take on the future. Che’s first guest is DMV rapper IDK, who is coming off a major 2019 with his partnership with Warner for his label Clue and the release of Is He Real? 

Speaking with VIBE over the phone, Che explains the genesis of Q&A With Che (the idea came after having a convo with Jay-Z), why IDK was the perfect first guest, his thoughts on Kanye and G.O.O.D. Music, and the books he’s reading today.

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VIBE: Q&A With Che is going to be part of HiStudios’ original programming slate. You’re alongside sport personalities that also have podcasts like Mike Tyson, Gilbert Arenas, and Caron Butler. If I did my research, you’re the first “music veteran” with a show on HiStudios. Was podcasting a logical next step in your career?

Che Pope: I think it was important for me to share the information. And just really what’s the best way to? Obviously, the lectures are great. That’s like, ‘Okay, cool. I go to Harvard Business School just so those kids get it.’ This was a way to really share it with a wider audience, with anybody. And I’ve been getting hit up on Instagram or Twitter where people are always asking me tons of questions and this was a way for me [to reach them]. So many people would be like, ‘Hey, can you mentor me?’ I can’t mentor all of them. This was kind of my way of like, ‘OK, I can’t mentor all of you, but I can do this.’ I think that is what really attracted me.

I had a really great conversation with Jay-Z about it and he just loved the idea of it and that really put a battery in my back. Because at one point in time, it was this great idea we had, and just getting caught up in work and [being] busy and not pursuing it. Once I spoke with Jay-Z and he said, ‘This is amazing. You have to do this.’ That really put the battery back, and then partnering with HiStudios and Himalaya, it just really gave me the team I needed to really bring it out there in the manner that I wanted to do, the professional level that I wanted to present it at.

So you were already thinking of podcasting back then. When did that Jay-Z convo happen?

That happened about two years ago in his living room.

How’d the convo go? Were you trying to pitch yourself to Tidal?

No, I actually wasn’t. He said, ‘You know, you’re more than welcome to consider Tidal.’ But he was like, ‘I just think it’s a great idea.’ I wasn’t actually pitching anything. We were just having a business conversation. I guess you could say the next step in my career is not only the podcast, but I also have a start-up. I was just getting business advice and out of that meet, Q&A came up.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the hip-hop podcast landscape. We got everybody from ItsTheReal’s, which you were on. The Joe Budden Podcast. Rap Radar Podcast. Do you see the success of those guys as motivation to reach that level or are they competition?

I don’t think they’re competition. We are really two different things. I’m much more like Ted Talks than I am No Jumper, ItsTheReal, Joe Budden. Although ItsTheReal is a little bit different than Joe Budden. Joe Budden wants to be opinionated, sort of controversial at times and really drive listeners on entertainment. Mine is much more educational focused. Entertaining in the fact that people who are going to be on it cause anyone could be on it. It could be anyone from Diddy to someone you haven’t heard of. I think it is entertaining in that [regard], but it is much more educational than I am trying to entertain you and be controversial and all that kind of stuff.

And I think it's really interesting that you chose IDK as your first guest. He’s coming off his Warner partnership for Clue and his album Is He Real? dropped last year. He’s a younger rapper but he has this business savviness to him. Why did you want to interview him?

That’s specifically why. I built a relationship with the kid cause he was in negotiations at one point and time to sign with G.O.O.D. Music. He is from the DMV area originally, which is where my mom is from. So we kind of made a cool connection a few years back when he was still this independent kid coming up trying to figure it out. But he was far more informed than most artists I meet. He was talking to me about his independent promotion and his marketing plan and things of that nature, which he had written himself. And I was like, ‘Wow, this kid is [incredible].’ When he finally did the deal with Warner, he was just the perfect first guest for me cause he is living what these kids want to do, what many of them want to do. His journey is really a testament to educating and empowering yourself and challenging. He had overcome adversity. He had been in jail before. It built himself up from scratch. Really talented story and his story is just getting started. I think the sky's the limit to where he can go.

Before I let you go, I want to talk about Kanye. You’ve been there since Yeezus. You’ve been there since Cruel Summer. Now, he’s on this new trajectory of dedicating himself to God, releasing Jesus Is King and Jesus Is Born. He’s no longer making secular music and is reportedly done performing solo shows. When you were working with him, did you see any early signs that his artistry was progressing towards this?

No, but I would say the thing with him is he is always evolving. I would say you never know what is next, which is exciting. I couldn’t say I saw this coming, at all. You never know what’s next, I will say that, which is one of the exciting things when working with him, for better or for worse, you know? Whether it was a Trump hat or “slavery was a choice” comment or whatever, or those amazing moments like Yeezus or some of the amazing musical experiences I was apart of. You never knew what was coming and that was exciting. I wish him the best on it. When it was time for me to move on? I wish him the best with it.

You were with G.O.O.D. Music for six and a half years?

Yeah, seven years. Since 2011. I was one of the longest running people that lasted the longest with him [Laughs].

Why did you want to leave?

I think for me it was the next progression in my career. To transition from working with somebody and helping them build their stuff to building my own company. I am building a music incubator, start-up. It was really sort of the next progression in my career. I had to take that step as a business owner. And that takes a lot of work, a lot of focus, and a lot of commitment, you know? It’s one of those things. They say that saying, ‘if it was easy, everybody could do it?’ It’s not easy.

You once described your role at G.O.O.D. with Noah Goldstein as “getting shit done.” Now that Pusha-T has taken the role as president, what do you think of his “term” so far?

I think Pusha-T is an artist, and I think he has aspirations of his own label. I don’t know what’s going on with G.O.O.D. Music. It’s kind of like in…what’s the word when something is in suspended in time? Desiigner left the label. I know 070 [Shake] is putting her album out, but that’s more Def Jam. I don’t think there’s really a G.O.O.D. Music focus there.

I think Kacy Hill isn’t there either, right?

Yeah, Kacy Hill left. I do think they still have some artists. I know Teyana is active. I don’t really know much about what’s going on these days at G.O.O.D. Pusha-T is one of my favorite artists, and I think he’s still focused on Pusha-T. I don’t know what his involvement is with the label at all or a day-to-day basis or if he’s still involved at all. 

I think that means we’re going to see something major happen. Big Sean still has his album coming out, so maybe something like that.

Yeah. Big Sean’s coming. I’m sure Pusha’s coming. I know 070 Shake’s album is amazing. I’ve heard it so I’m excited for her because I know it’s a long time coming and she’s great. She’s gonna be on the Swedish House Mafia project as well. I think she could really be one of the next, big young artists.

I saw that books are your thing. What are you reading now?

As far as this year, I want to read as many as I can. I have different people that turn me onto books. You never know what someone is going to refer. Right now, I am reading Ben Horowitz’s new book What You Do Is Who You Are. I think Ben is just a brilliant guy and the fact that he loves hip-hop too, which is really cool. Anytime he drops a book, I try to get it.

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