Billboard point towards ‘Loco-Motive’, a cut that’s got Illmatic scrawled all over it. Nas has paid tribute to his peerless debut before, of course: everything from the CD design through to the title of 2001’s Stillmatic suggested Nas wanted us to keep that mercurial first foray in mind. Although not a bad record, Stillmatic suffered from a comparison that ended up being both unnecessary and graceless.
‘Loco-Motive’ pays its dues in much smarter, subtler fashion. The track begins with the same train-track rattle and hoot that welcomed the listener into Illmatic opener ‘The Genesis’. It’s also difficult to listen to those honky tonk licks without meditating of ‘NY State Of Mind’. The cast list also look back: Large Professor of Main Source crops up, his first appearance on a mainstream rap track in yonks.
No I.D’s instrumental is a slice of classic head-nod, defined by the same sort of elephantine bass twitch we saw on the undeniable ‘The Don’. Nas sounds absolutely ageless (although he confesses “I’ve been rich longer than I’ve been broke”), and his flow is more impressive than on any of the other Life Is Good advance tracks. There isn’t a hip-hop fan on earth who isn’t rooting for this album to be a beast; we’ll be crossing everything until mid-July.
Life is Good drops on July 17.