No I.D. Speaks on Working With Nas on Life Is Good

Nas’ latest album, Life Is Good, is currently projected to sell 120,000 units and debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 next week. The album, which came out this past Tuesday, is some of the Queens MC’s best work in years. He remains a lyrical force and offers listeners a healthy array of content—from boasts to concepts to personally revealing moments. Production legend No I.D., currently serving as executive vice president of Def Jam, worked extensively with Nas on the project, ultimately earning credits for five of the 14 songs. Here, No I.D. discusses their studio sessions, “Daughters,” and more. —As told to Adam Fleischer (@AdamXXL)

We did some sessions before. I would say in the scope of really working with each other, we hadn’t worked with each other until now. Meaning, sit down talk, figure out direction, share ideas, and be on the same page. We got a really good work relationship now.

[We did] a lot of sessions together. A lot of those sessions was not even working on music, but really discussing where music is, where we wanna go, why we wanna go there, how. It was a lot of sharing. He’s like a vault of hip-hop information within himself. Everything that we did, it wasn’t on accident. The discussions made the music.

I don’t remember exactly [how "Daughters" came about], but I’m pretty sure that he came up with it and then we worked on the concept. The beat came, and he just starts to lay verses. He laid a couple verses. We had a lot of talks about Marvin Gaye’s Here My Dear album. One of the things that I was stressing to him was, I feel like Nas fans are Nas fans. They care about Nas. They don’t care about what’s current, they don’t care about what’s in the club. With him not being a guy that you see on TMZ and on the blog sites often, I felt like, “Hey man, you gotta let people know you.” That was probably most important to me, to let even the younger kids that missed all the great things he did because they were too young, let ‘em know who he is, what he’s thinking, where he’s at, how he feels.