Life's a Bitch (song)

"Life's a Bitch" is the third single from Nas' debut album Illmatic (1994). It was released as a 12" single on April 19, 1994 by Columbia Records. It features rapping from AZ and cornet playing by Nas' father Olu Dara.

"Life's a Bitch"
Single by Nas featuring AZ
from the album Illmatic
ReleasedApril 19, 1994
  • Nasir Jones
  • Anthony Cruz
  • Olu Dara
  • Ronnie Wilson
  • Oliver Scott
Nas singles chronology
"It Ain't Hard to Tell"
"Life's a Bitch"
"The World Is Yours"

The beat is produced by L.E.S., who samples "Yearning for Your Love" by The Gap Band and "Black Frost" by Grover Washington, Jr. for the songs down-tempo jazzy beat. AZ's verse was the first recorded verse of his rap career. The song was sampled numerous times in modern times, examples include "Keep It Real" by Miilkbone (1995), "Carry On" by Statik Selektah featuring Joey Bada$$.[citation needed]


Olu Dara's cornet work was the first on-wax collaboration with his son. "Jungle Jay" and "Dance" eventually followed, as did the 2004 single "Bridging the Gap". According to Nas:

"I asked my dad to play on the end of it — I told him to play whatever comes to mind when he thinks of me as a kid. I think he's really proud to see me coming up and really taking my life serious and doing what I want."[1]


Nas's verse discusses how he is happy to be alive at 20 years old, his rough childhood, consisting of "robbing foreigners" of their green cards, and selling crack. However, the tone of his words suggest that he is reflecting rather than glorifying his deeds, and now has a more positive outlook on life.[citation needed]

Thematic continuationEdit

The song's title and concept was later mentioned in Nas' verse on the collaboration track "Affirmative Action" off his 1996 album It Was Written in which Nas raps "Life's a bitch but god-forbid the bitch divorce me". This track also featured AZ along with fellow Queensbridge rapper Cormega, Park Slope and Brooklyn rapper Foxy Brown.[2]

In popular cultureEdit

In the 2009 film Fish Tank by Andrea Arnold, the song is played in one of the final scenes, bringing thematic closure to the narrative. It is also played as the closing credits roll.[3]

The song is quoted in the final scene of the Netflix series Bojack Horseman.[4]

Track listingEdit


  1. "Life's a Bitch (Radio)" (3:37)
  2. "Life's a Bitch (Dirty)" (3:29)
  3. "Life's a Bitch (Instrumental)" (3:29)


  1. "Life's a Bitch (Arsenal Radio Mix)" (3:31)
  2. "Life's a Bitch (Arsenal Dirty Mix)" (3:31)
  3. "Life's a Bitch (Arsenal Instrumental Mix)" (3:35)


  1. ^ Nas' "Greatest Hits": A Track-By-Track Journey With the Pride of Queens : Rolling Stone
  2. ^ Brown, Peezy (December 13, 2018). "Tale of the Tape - Nas' "Affirmative Action" ft. Foxy Brown, AZ, Cormega". Revolt TV. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  3. ^ Meaney, Jake (March 24, 2011). "Andrea Arnold's 'Fish Tank' Is Rich with Stark Beauty". PopMatters. Retrieved November 5, 2019. [...]Nas's stone cold classic "Life’s a Bitch", which runs under the final scene[...]
  4. ^