I am already anticipating the summer’s sun and glow, the people’s shine and the contagion of joy that one only feels when it’s summertime (especially in NYC!). The vibe that comes with eating an icee from the Hispanic ladies with their little push carts who ask if you’d like a $1 or $2 cup, or the sound of “brrrinnng!” coming from the local ice cream truck delivering the day’s batch of bomb pops, makes you feel as if you have no cares in the world. And, in those moments, “Life is Good.”
Recently rapper Nasir Jones, or simply Nas, sat down with Complex magazine for a transparent, well-written and candid interview, by writer Rob Marriott. The aesthetics for the interview captured by Kareem Black gleaned that I was in store for a vividly brilliant read. For Complex Magazine to have selected one of my favorite emcees of all time for its cover during my birthday month (June) made it plain. Life is good. Nas discusses everything from finances to fatherhood to failing at love over the course of an interview that reads more like a feel-good jam session at Black Velvet Mondays in the Village Underground with Cheryl Pepsi Riley and the Hot Chocolate Band. I have a front row seat into his personal life for a brief moment—I can hear the gritty, low timbre and overly enunciated New York vernacular flowing from his mouth in my mind—I’m getting to know Nas…again.
I’ve learned over the years that Nas has an appreciation for beauty, but I never knew just how much and in what capacity until now. While his affinity is consistent it has evolved to encompass the total package and not merely what meets the eye. Additionally, I’ve learned that his appreciation has been cultivated over time due to maturity; beautiful to Nas are powerful, outstanding, and smart women like his late mother Ms. Ann Jones, and our own First Lady, Michelle Obama. These are women that have used their lives to make the lives of others better. This is the type of sincere beauty that piques Nas’ interest and grabs his attention on any given day— “Michelle Obama is the most beautiful woman on the planet. She cares about people. All first ladies have their job to do but you can feel her sincerity,” is what he shared with Complex Magazine. I can dig it. I admire my momma/aunty (they’re twins) and our First Lady too! In that comparative moment for me, I think “Life is Good.”
As a parent, of both a son and a daughter, Nas has come to the realization that he has to sharpen his skills, reflect more on the job he’s done and aspire to give better advice and not the “worst advice” based on the problems he’s had. Frankly, parenting is no easy feat (I have yet to jump into that ring) and so many parents would rather not have their skills placed under the critic’s microscope. But, Nas is open to it and I can respect that.
When I first heard “Daughters,” it took me to a nostalgic place about what I know my father would have wanted for me had he lived past his tender 25 years of age; he was a smart, revolutionary man to have left behind video footage from 1978 as the living proof that my sisters and I were his pride and joy and that his very existence was designed to be a role model and a provider for mother, sisters, and me. Each of Nas’ albums has motivated me to think more, read more and to judge Hip Hop culture and music through a different set of lenses; thus, “Music is supposed to inspire (Lauryn Hill).” What has softened me up the most is the vulnerability that Nas presents in questioning his role as a father. Truthfully, there is a pervasive vulnerability in all of Hip Hop, but Nas tailors words with an unforgivable flow, and is the masterful architect of the kind of thoughts that fill my mind when I reflect on what my daddy may have written about me as his daughter. And, in that pensive place, “Life is Good.”
I’m always thankful for time as cumbersome as some moments may be. In actuality, time is our only consistent friend and is the judge by whom we measure our growth and place on this planet. Ten years prior, Nas was in a another stage of his career at different apex in his life. He had never experienced the hurt of divorce and the weariness of the hypothetical that has surely asked a thousand times, “What if you had done some things differently?” I’m sure Nas would answer rhetorically, “What if? I guess we will never know.” What I do know is that on July 17th, 2012 I will continue my journey with Nas on his tenth album as he illustrates in each track the many reasons why “Life Is Good.” Just to look at Nas at 38 “it aint hard to tell…”
Check out the full Complex Magazine and Nas article here: http://www.complex.com/music/2012/05/nas-cover-story