In the past months leading up to the July 17 release of Life is Good, a lot has been made of Nas’ personal life and his tumultuous divorce from singer Kelis. Now, in a recent interview with Billboard, the Queensbridge emcee explains how his personal life ended up being pressed on wax with his impending tenth solo album.
Nas compared Life is Good to Marvin Gaye’s 1978 album Here, My Dear, which famously chronicled his own divorce. Nas said that he’s been a fan of the album for years, but was resistant at first to follow in Gaye’s footsteps with Life is Good. Eventually, however, he said that recording the project became his means of expressing his frustrations with his divorce.
“I thought Here, My Dear was brave, beautiful, honest, scary and daring. I remember putting several artists on to it, from Maxwell to Jay-Z,” he recalled. “I couldn’t imagine what Marvin was going through when he was recording it. And I couldn’t imagine me being in a similar position, years later…when I started working on the record, I tried to avoid [getting too personal]. The timing was just calling for me to not avoid all the shit that was going on out there. It was like a 10,000-ton gorilla in the room watching me. This is the way I got it off of my chest. This album talks about life, love and money. It talks about the fact that marriage is expensive. Life Is Good represents the most beautiful, dramatic and heavy moments in my life.”
Nas also explained that working with producers No I.D. and Swizz Beatz helped him open up more on records. He said that being to talk with both producers about their own marital issues helped make the album more universally appealing in its content and message.
“When I sat down with [producers] No I.D. and Salaam [Remi] and originally told them what I wanted to do, we felt like we were waking up a certain fan that doesn’t buy rap anymore,” he said. “Our goal on the album was to just do what’s real. No I.D. has been married twice. Swizz [Beatz] has also been married twice and has gone through baby-mama drama. So the conversation between all of us was great.”