Once upon a time, there was an era before Illmatic. A young Nasir Jones was linked up with none other than the great Easy Moe Bee. During those pre-Illmatic studio sessions, an unfinished gem entitled “Life Is Like A Dice Game” (among other gems) was conceived. Dice Game… presented haunting production from Easy Moe Bee containing Moe Bee’s mesmerizing sample of Norman Connor’s “Valentine Love”. This track is literally two and a half minutes of perfection. Click here to see Easy Moe Bee’s recent Instagram post about the track. Perfect production for the perfect Emcee at the rawest state of his career. The original “Life Is Like A Dice Game” screams grittiness, this is unpolished art at its finest. Nas jumps directly on the track with a hook that you can sing along to and just starts spittin on the mic with a “mic check 1,2”. Nas spits:
“I never knock a brother, I’m anti-jail for realNas
Smooth criminal skill, locked in a human flesh shield
Watchin’ niggas get rich beside me
Pushin’ a 5 B-Y, me up in the passenger seat
But I see me as Hallie Selassie in my kingdom
Sippin’ Asti Spumante, driftin’, reality kicks in..”
Fast forward to 2021, someone thinks it’s a good idea to re-record “Life Is Like A Dice Game” and throw Cordae and Freddie Gibbs on the track and also replace Easy Moe Bee on production with Hit-Boy. Hit-Boy is given the same Norman Connor sample to work with but lacks the raw gritty strength of the Easy Moe Bee track. Hit-Boy’s version not only gave this gritty track a more happy commercial feel but it also attempted some G-Funk style sonics. Not a great combination. The reworking of the chorus came through the speakers disingenuously as you could tell the artist on the track were attempting to recreate the magic of 1993. All three artist tried their best on the track but certain things can’t be remade and given justice to. Nas’ 1993 original track was perfectly imperfect and a shiny “new and improved” model of a track like this just falls completely flat. Maybe if Easy Moe Bee would have stayed in place as the producer the new track would have actually stood a chance.
I respectfully don’t ever need to hear the updated version of “Life Is Like A Dice Game” again. But what many of us Hip-Hop fans would like to see is many of Nas’ unreleased tracks from the 90’s actually be released on streaming platforms, including the original “Life Is Like A Dice Game” and “Deju Vu”. With Nas’ new deal partnership with Sony, there should be no problem with that.
Thank you all for releasing “Silent Murder” to streaming platforms but you all could have kept this new version of “Life Is Like A Dice Game”. Respectfully.
Check the original and the new one below. What do you think?