Life is Aight, I Guess
Nas f/ Mary J. Blige – “Reach Out” (Def Jam, 2012)
Life Is Good is definitely a 21st century Nas album. It’s exactly the type of record he has been making since Stillmatic – 12% good enough, 63% whatever, 25% completely embarrassing. And yet it will still get hailed as a classic (because it’s Nas, yo) for three weeks before fans forget it and forever and go back to longing for him to make another album with DJ Premier. 
Its saddest funnysad moment comes when Nas half dismissively says my man Dion said Nas overthink the songs he writing on “Back When.”  Listen to your friend No ID. He’s a cool dude. He knows what’s best for you, Nas. This is deafeningly apparent elsewhere on the album, on which every Salaam Remi track is like a breakbeat… backed by a symphony… backed by a flugelhorn… with a rasta toasting on top. Then when No ID slips him some shit it’s like “yo here’s a loop, try rapping to that.” See if you can guess which style of beat Nas sounds better on.
“Reach Out” is about as stripped down as Remi gets. Nas raps like Nas and he sounds good – the line about how he used to be known as Olu’s son and now Olu is Nas’ father is such a classically Nasish one. More than that though, the track is an origami duck of hip hop references. The beat flips Issac Hayes’ “Ike’s Mood”  and the hook interpolates New Edition, in a combination that nods back to Queensbridge pioneer (and the track’s co-producer) Hot Day’s “Master Mix.” Mary’s involvement (singing about love and you, no less) links it back to her using “Ike’s Mood” as well, on an album  inspired by the very sort of R&B blends that guys like Hot Day and, later, Ron G had pioneered.  And then all three songs seem loosely indebted to the original and greatest Ike flip, Biz Markie’s “Make The Music,” which of course was produced by another QB great, Marley Marl. So yeah, it’s a rap song borne of a very incestuous family tree. Incest and Nas go together like AZ and Nas.
 I’m still unclear as to why dudes aren’t begging for a full reconnection with Large Profesor instead, especially now that it’s been revealed that Extra P was coaching his rhymes on Illmatic.
 Well either that or earlier in the song when he brags about his testicular fortitude.
 A piano loop so flippable that it’s impossible to find on Youtube, buried by endless clips of a bunch of My First MPC type goons stumbling their way through remixes.
 Err… whatever, I linked the Smif N Wessun remix which isn’t actually on the album. Because that’s the superior version. Here is the original album version if you want to be pedantic.
 Pour out a little liquor for every time some Girl Talk jocking dipshit writes a history of “The Mash Up” without mentioning a single og hip hop blend dj.