Label: Def Jam

Jay-Z famously took Nas to task for his spotty first 10 years in the game, but in the last decade it was Mr. Jones that had the higher quality control while Hov's albums were hit or miss. Street's Disciple bore the gift and the curse of double-LP largesse, while Hip Hop Is Dead and Untitled were solid efforts overshadowed by album title controversies.

But it was Life Is Good that really affirmed that Nas, even divorced and pushing 40,  still had something to say and a brilliant way of saying it. And after years of Nas' production getting knocked just for not being by DJ Premier, by the time Life Is Good came around, heads were finally ready to admit that Salaam Remi is an asset to Nas albums, not a liability. Nasty Nas was wise beyond his years at 19, but the hard-won lessons of his 30s give his new music a depth all its own.