New Release (Def Jam)
You don’t need to see the cover, where Nas poses with ex-wife Kelis’ wedding dress, to guess that the title Life is Good is ironic. But it plays as an odd mix of gritty divorce album and star-studded commercial comeback. “Cherry Wine” features a tender Amy Winehouse vocal (though, alas, it’s the same verse repeated four times) that undercuts the world-weariness in his rap. But it’s Nas’ offhand rhymes and references, rather than the weighty themes, that reinforce his supremacy: When was the last time anyone sounded like a macho ruler (on “Reach Out,” with a Mary J. Blige chorus) while referencing white-wine spritzers and Josephine Baker?