Nas is famous for his provocative album titles, from “Hip-Hop Is Dead” to his decision to call his last album “Untitled“, they often provide us with an insight into the message he’s trying to convey to his fans. His forthcoming LP will be his first solo project in three years, yet with his decision to call it “Life Is Good“, this time I feel the prevailing message is one of irony.Since his successes with “Distant Relatives” the 2010 Damian Marley collaboration album, things have since been far from good for the Queens native.

Since 2010 things have since been far from good for the Queens native.

The album cover is the clearest indication yet that not all is perfect in the life of Nas. Sat down with a stern look on his face, most of us were at first puzzled by the bright green dress accompanying him in the photo. It has since emerged it is the only treasured possession Nas holds onto from his marriage, Kelis’s wedding dress. There’s something a little bit unsettling about seeing a hip-hop legend like Nas expose his vulnerability for the whole World to see, but perhaps this risk taking is also what makes him a great artist.

The cover is not the only talking point turning heads in the hip-hop community right now. Many of us were shocked to hear about Nas’s fragile financial situation. The IRS have come after Nas three times for tax evasion and it’s believed he owes up to 6 million dollars in unpaid tax (as reported last year by Detroit News’ Tax Watchdog), whilst this may be old news, I wonder if his recent plans to tour Europe are out of necessity rather than enjoyment. Nas has previously admitted he was unable to afford his child support fees, which to be fair were extremely excessive.

The IRS have come after Nas three times for tax evasion and it’s believed he owes up to 6 million dollars in unpaid tax

Yet in the first single for his new album, a track he calls “Nasty”, he rapped about popping “thousand-dollar bottles of scotch” and followed that up with a song called “The Don” which includes lines like “That long cash get the baddest bitches out they jeans”. Personally, I was disappointed Nas chose to go down the fantasy gangster route, even though I enjoyed his flow and production on those two tracks. It’s hard to warm to a flamboyant figure in times of recession and Nas’s own financial problems make an even bigger mockery of his claims.

More peculiar still was his defence of political tyrant Gaddafi who he maintained was misunderstood.

I never saw Gaddafi as an enemy, like a deadly enemy that wanted to harm people for no reason. I kind of see him as someone who is misunderstood. I see him as someone whose… I think a revolution in Libya is important and I just hate to see that the people are against him or he has to be against them, I hate to see any violence between him and his people, I just don’t like that.

Maybe Gaddafi’s infamous million pound hip-hop parties had something to do with Nas’s defence, but either way it was a major screw up on his part and one which coincided with a divorce he is seemingly yet to recover from.

If these revelations caused some fans to question his ethics, a shock story from 2012 saw an even bigger response. A concert promoter spent nearly 50 days trapped in Angola after being kidnapped for failing to bring the rapper to the country. Nas had agreed to play a concert there on New Years Eve which never materialised after Nas missed his flight. The consequences were dire for the promoter who was subsequently held by Angolan authorities. The fee paid for Nas was believed to be over 300 thousand dollars.

So perhaps in an attempt to put these issues behind him, Nas is focusing on positive energy for the foreseeable future. Other songs which have recently surfaced are “Black Girl Lost” and “Daughters”, tracks which touch on his love for women and family. They fit in with a sense of maturity you’d expect from a man nearly 20 years in the hip-hop business. I for one look forward to his album as one of my most anticipated for 2012, for better or worse you can always guarantee that Nas will be captivating.


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