The energy surrounding Nas’ new album Life is Good has been a rousing affirmation of Nas’ longevity (this is his 10th album) but it’s also being talked about as a renewed appreciation of a more classic “New York hip hop” sound. Beats by No I.D., Salaam Remi, even Swizz Beats…disco samples…even lyrical references to the subway…all echo some of the themes fans first fell in love with on Nas’ seminal work, Illmatic (which still stands on a pedestal in a different stratosphere).

But Nas seems well aware of the comparisons, and as an artist who isn’t afraid of attaching larger themes/messages to his music (i.e. Hip Hop is Dead, and that “untitled” n-word album)… he’s taking up the cause of hip hop classicism with Life is Good. At last night’s Hot97 album release party at Tammany Hall, Nas brought out Swizz Beats (who Large Professor says was the original producer of “Ether”), and his longtime Firm-biz partner AZ. And before performing “Locamotive” (a Salaam Remi-track that reminds me of Illmatic‘s “Genesis” interlude), Nas went on this rant:

“This is music that I just put together, I’m praying will be the inspiration for my brothers that’s in the rap game. I think a lot of us are confused about who we are. It’s important that we stay ten toes down at all time.
F–k pop, f–k all that shit. We don’t imitate pop, pop imitates us! So that’s why we go back to the gutter. We’re number one in about 5 or 6 countries around the world. And none of this is pop. Stick to your guns, do what you do….”

I’m not sure who Nas is referring to specifically, but if that fire and brimstone inspires him to make this Life is Good quality music, then wave that banner, by all means! I don’t think those rappers who have David Guetta on speed-dial will change their tune anytime soon; )

(Thanks to Hot97 Morning Show’s Kay Foxx for the audio from the party)

Watch Nas mentally spar with Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report…Always a must-see!
After the jump

Nas talks to Stephen Colbert and performs “The Don” on The Colbert Report

Colbert: “[the album is about] the good things in life, like comfy quilt covers, finding $5 in an old pair of pants…and by the way, is Nas short for anything? Like Nozzle?
Nas: Life is good because we wake up morning with life. So the music is not about quilts and fig newtons…it’s just about being happy to wake up every morning.

Nas, Miguel & Swizz Beatz Perform “Summer on Smash” on ‘106 & Park’ (Video)
Nas Parties at Moët’s Rosé Lounge with Jay-Z, Swizz Beatz, No I.D., Miss Info, Angie Martinez & More
Take It Back: Examine Nas’ ‘Life Is Good’ CD Booklet Like It’s 1997
Nas Opens Up About Ex-Wife Kelis on “Bye Baby”