Nas's Life Is Good, CopperWire, Too $hort, Onra, WD4D/JusMoni
Some stuff you already know: Nas is a legend, and in his longevity, a testament to the blessing in disguise. After his initial run and the holding patterns, he was sparked back into his rarefied stratum of inspiration by one of the greasiest and highest-profile rap feuds ever. More than a decade later, with his 10th album, Life Is Good, adversity once again brings the very best out of Nas. His processing of a very public divorce, tax issues, and bad press make for a listen that's back-to-front consistent, the best Nas album since Stillmatic—Queens' narrator 10 years older and wiser. The comparison to Marvin Gaye's Here, My Dear is a gimme, and plenty abused in Life's promo run. The Marvin album that Life Is Good most resembles, though, would be Vulnerable, the under-heralded posthumous collection of wounded standards. Who knows how close Nas and Amy Winehouse ever really were—you know, "Me & Mr. Jones" and such—but I always thought their friendship merited a proper duet; I think "Cherry Wine" is it. "Bye Baby," a tender and honest look back at a failed marriage, is a benchmark in hiphop's emotional lexicon—or hyperbole aside, a goddamn beautiful closer to Nas's good Life.
CopperWire—the sci-fi soul of Meklit Hedero, Burntface, and Gabriel Teodros—connect their Earthbound home soil to the firmament with their original Afro-electro rhythms. Check their "Phone Home" video for clips from the first hiphop shows to touch the Ethiopian cities of Gondar and Harar, plus a cameo from the Ethio-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke. They'll be materializing at Nectar on Thursday, August 9, along with that maestro OC Notes and the funky free Orbé.
If that just ain't player enough for you, get with what's pimpin' that evening—Too $hort over at Neumos, with PDX OG Chillest Illest, Steady the Boss, and ya boy Neema on host. BEEITCH, what's my favorite word? "Ribs"?
Paris-based producer extra-fuckin'-ordinary Onra just released a new EP called Deep in the Night on Fool's Gold; it's watercolor-picture-perfect for your Seattle semi-summertime. Feel better, and go see him do his thing live at the Crocodile on Saturday, August 11, with Matthewdavid, WD4D, and Justice & Treasure opening up. Speaking of WD4D, sleep not upon the sweet new EP he produced for Seattle-raised and currently Oakland-relocated JusMoni called Queen Feel, released by local collective Care Package. WD4D is inventive and slap-minded; Moni is simply one of the brightest and bravest voices I've heard. Together their future-sultry soul feels like 4AD soul: edgy, glitchy but never icy, always deep and warm—my favorite kind of personality. Love how that Feel.
Also for your loving: Seattle Soul Sessions at the Columbia City Theater on August 11—the folks from Empathy Records, who put out that Soul of Seattle comp from earlier this year, are bringing together some of the town's finest to honor Prince, Anita Baker, Frankie Beverly & Maze, and more. Do that for yourself. Lastly, speaking of the Soufend, and everyone everywhere else: Please, stop shooting. These are just words on the page, but—do that for yourself, too.