Cypher Avenue Rating: 5 of 5      

PictureYou’ll be hard pressed to find a better album to come out this year than Nas’ “Life Is Good.” We’re only halfway through 2012 but I’ll go out on a limb and say this will be the best Hip Hop album of the year. Debuting at the #1 Billboard spot in the U.S. means that many people out there agree.

When was the last time you could go to the first song of a rap LP and just Press Play, without skipping? That’s what Nas gives us on his tenth studio album.

Teaming up with faithful producers Salaam Remy, No I.D., Swizz Beatz, Buckwild and the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League the cohesive sound of the 18-track journey simultaneously feels retro, current and futuristic.

Instead of sentimentally moping lyrically about a broken heart like fellow popular urban artists Drake and Frank Ocean, Nas displays exemplary emotional masculinity on songs like “No Introduction”, “Daughters”, “Bye Baby” and “Roses.”

Welcome appearances by Large Professor, Mary J Blige, Anthony Hamilton and Aaron Hall on hooks throw us in a time machine, causing us older fans to reminisce to the late 90’s when Hip Hop was at its prime. Help from Rick Ross, Miguel, Swizz Beatz and the late Heavy D bring it home to a more modern club experience, yet it all flows together nicely. Lastly, the very missed Amy Winehouse smooths out the already chilled out track, “Cherry WIne.”Throughout the album, Nas fills a much needed void with mainstream rappers speaking on more than just money, sex and flossing. Lyrically visual songs about family, being a responsible man, our misguided youth and senseless crime on our streets are littered over the album without ever getting too preachy.

On “Life Is Good”, Nas exemplifies our definition of manhood and masculinity at this website. A multifaceted embodiment of a masculine way of being that in no way represents a so-called “hyper masculinity” or exaggeration. If our ratings, reviews and opinions on Cypher Avenue hold any kind of weight in the future, we’re happy to say that this brilliant 5-Star album sits as an example of the type of work we’d love to see more of from artists. 

Nas: “The Don”


New York is like an Island,
A big Rikers Island,
The cops be out wildin’,

All I hear is sirens,
It’s all about surviving,

Same old two-step,
Try to stay alive when they be out robbing
I been out rhyming,

Since born knowledge,
Like prophet Muhammad said – the ink from a scholar,
Worth more than the blood of a martyr,
So I’mma keep it on ’til I see a billion dollars,
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,
Love model chocha Mommy pop it like she ‘pose to…


Nas: “Daughters”


This morning I got a call, nearly split my wig,
This social network said Nas go and get your kid
She’s on Twitter,

I know she ain’t gon’ post no pic,
Of herself under dressed,
No inappropriate shit, right?
Her mother cried when she answered
Said she don’t know what got inside this child’s mind,
She planted,
A box of condoms on her dresser then she Instagrammed it,
At this point I realized I ain’t the strictest parent
I’m too loose, I’m too cool with her,
Shoulda drove more times to school with her,
I thought I dropped enough jewels on her
Took her from private school, so she can get a balance
To public school, they too nurture teen talents,
They grow fast, one day she’s your little princess
Next day she talking boy business, what is this?
They say the coolest playas and foulest heart breakers in the world,

God gets us back, he makes us have precious little girls…
– Nick D