Always controversial and uncompromising in his role as hip-hop’s most influential MC – and often its most severe critic – Nas has completed his first new studio album in four years, LIFE IS GOOD, scheduled to arrive in-stores July 17th on Def Jam Recordings. The album’s new advance track, “The Don,” produced by Da Internz, Salaam Remi and the late Heavy D, made its premiere earlier last month on New York DJ Funkmaster Flex’s Hot-97 radio show. “The Don” follows up “Nasty,” issued as an advance single last summer 2011. A third track, “Daughters,” produced by No-I.D., will be available for sale through all digital retailers and services on May 1st.
Response to “The Don” has been nothing short of rapturous. Rolling Stone raves “on his new single, the Queens rap godfather spits vicious rhymes over a rugged, island-flavored beat…if Nas keeps up this level of quality, his new album is going to be like Illmatic all over again.” The epic new video for “The Don” – helmed by up-and-coming young director Aristotle Torres – will see a simultaneous premiere on MTV and VEVO this coming Friday, April 27th. Continuing the excitement, “The Don” will be heard as part of this year’s 2012 NFL Draft proceedings, April 26-28th.
VH1’s “Behind The Music” special on Nas aired last week, and was the music bio franchise’s highest rated special of the this year thusfar. "Behind The Music: NAS" will continue to see airtime throughout the summer.
LIFE IS GOOD , Nas’ 10th studio album, is the long-awaited successor to his gold untitled album (July 2008). It featured the iconic closing track “N.I.G.G.E.R. (The Slave and The Master),” produced by DJ Toomp, which contained the provocative lyric, “They say we N-I-double-G-E-R/ We are, much more/ But still we choose to ignore the obvious/ Man, this history don’t acknowledge us/ We were scholars way before colleges…”
Other standout tracks from the untitled album included the official single “Hero” (produced by Polow Da Don); “Black President” (produced by DJ Green Lantern); and “Fried Chicken” featuring Busta Rhymes, produced by 2007’s Grammy Award®-winning Producer Of The Year, Mark Ronson. The untitled album also contained collaborations with producers Stic.Man from Dead Prez, Jay Electronica, Stargate, DJ Cool & Dre, and others.
Prior to the untitled album, the worldwide platinum, Grammy®-nominated Hip-Hop Is Dead (released December 2006) became the third album by Nas to enter the Soundscan chart at #1. The lead title track single “Hip-Hop Is Dead,” produced and co-written by and featuring will.i.am. of Black Eyed Peas, was a solid Top 40 pop/R&B/rap crossover hit. The follow-up hit, “Can’t Forget About You,” featuring fellow Def Jam artist Chrisette Michelle, a jazz inspired Top 10 Rap track also produced by will.i.am, riffed off a sample from the classic “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole.Time Out New York stepped out early in January 2007, and picked Hip-Hop Is Dead as “rap record of the year.” Pitchfork’s reviewer called it “the album I’ll give to people in 20 years when they ask who Nas was.” The album release set up the “One Man, One Mic, One Night” 26-city North American tour, one of the biggest ever by Nas, from March through May 2007. * * *
Nas (Nasir Jones) first reached an international audience when his track “Halftime” was tapped by producer MC Serch as the opening cut on 1992’s Zebrahead movie soundtrack. Signed to Columbia Records, the first full-length album by poet and rhyme-master Nas arrived in 1994, the RIAA platinum Illmatic, featuring the singles “It Ain’t Hard To Tell,” “The World Is Yours,” and “One.” 1996 brought the breakthrough double-platinum It Was Written (#1 R&B for 7 weeks, #1 pop for 4 weeks), with his first major crossover singles “Sweet Dreams” and “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That).” The streak continued with the double-platinum I Am in 1999 (again #1 pop and #1 R&B), containing the chart singles “Nas Is Like,” “Hate Me Now” (featuring Puff Daddy), and “You Won’t See Me Tonight” (featuring Aaliyah).
Subsequent albums by Nas included: the RIAA platinum Nastradamus (1999, #2 R&B, #7 pop, with “Nastradamus” and “You Owe Me,” featuring Ginuwine); the platinum Stillmatic (2001, #1 R&B, #5 pop, with “Got Ur Self A…,” “Ether,” “One Mic,” and “Rule”); the platinum God’s Son (2002, #1 R&B, with huge R&B/pop crossover hits “Made You Look” and “I Can”); the platinum double-CD Street’s Disciple (2004, #2 R&B, #5 pop, with “Bridging the Gap” and “Just a Moment”); and Hip-Hop Is Dead in 2006.
Over the years, Nas has also been the featured guest on a number of crossover hits by other artists, among them: Allure (“Head Over Heels,” 1997); R. Kelly (“Did You Ever Think,” 1999); Missy Elliott (the #1 “Hot Boyz,” 1999); fellow Queensbridge rapper Mobb Deep (“It’s Mine,” 1999); Nature (“The Ultimate High,” 2000); Jagged Edge (“I Got It 2,” 2002); J-Lo (“I’m Gonna Be Alright,” 2002); Kelis (“In Public,” 2003, and “Blindfold Me,” 2006); Kanye West (“Classic (Better Than I’ve Ever Been),” 2006); and others.
In addition to his successful career in music, Nas has pursued a career in motion pictures that began with his co-starring role (alongside DMX) in 1998’s crime drama Belly, a film by director Hype Williams (with whom Nas has done several video clips). Subsequent appearances include Albert Pyun’s action crime thriller Ticker (2001, with Tim Sizemore and Steven Seagal); Carl Seaton’s Sacred Is the Flesh (2001, also co-written by Nas); a cameo as himself in Boaz Yakin’s comedy Uptown Girls (2003, with Brittany Murphy and Dakota Fanning); Lawrence Page’s Murda Muzik (2004, with Ron Artest and Chinky); the fictional hip-hop group bio-pic The Vapors (2008, with an all-star cast of Roxanne Shanté, Kool G Rap, Marley Marl, Biz Markie, and others); and tv’s hit series, Hawaii Five-O.