Nas

Illmatic - 2022 Reissue

Image of Nas - Illmatic - 2022 Reissue
Record Label
Get On Down

About this item

In 1994, hip-hop was going through an at-times painful growth spurt. Since NWA’s and Ice-T’s ascent in the late 80s, the rap game was no longer owned by the East Coast. After the worldwide popularity of Dr. Dre’s ‘The Chronic’ in 1992, things were looking even worse for hip-hop’s hometown. The East Coast / West Coast feud that would later indirectly claim the lives of Biggie and 2Pac was still in its infancy, but New York needed a shot in the arm. The hype behind young Queensbridge native Nasir “Nas” Jones had been in full swing months before his smash debut album ‘Illmatic’, thanks to Columbia Records’ promo machine. From his earliest appearance on Main Source’s ‘Live At The BBQ’, to his own accomplished debut ‘Half Time’ (as Nasty Nas, in late 1992), it was clear that this kid was something special. In fact, the pressure on him must have been overwhelming at times. April 19, 1994 couldn’t have come soon enough. And as soon as the first lines of ‘NY State Of Mind’ kick in, bolstered by perhaps DJ Premier’s darkest beat of all time, the entire East Coast breathed a collective sigh of relief. God’s Son had arrived. Backed by an absolute all-star cast of New York’s top-shelf producers - Premier, Pete Rock, Large Professor, Q-Tip and a youngster named LES - the album never lets up. Serious to a fault, and lyrically dense to an extent that has possibly never been matched, the 20-year old Nas stood on the shoulders of his predecessors and proudly proclaimed, “Don’t f*** with the East… we are BACK”. ‘Illmatic’ was actually a slow-burn, which might surprise fans that have come to its genius more recently. Despite an unheard-of “5 Mics” rating in The Source – breaking an unwritten rule of never awarding classic status to debuts - it didn’t go gold until early 1996, and didn’t hit platinum status until late 2001. But when you dive deeper that shouldn’t be a shock: like Black Moon and Wu-Tang’s debuts, it was a dark, hard record, made for heads in New York, not teeny-boppers in Des Moines. There were no dance beats, no crossover love songs. Just boom-bap and rhymes, skills and heart.

STAFF COMMENTS

David says: This album pretty much single handedly reignited the flame of East Coast hip hop. Produced by DJ Premier, Large Professor, Pete Rock AND Q Tip!! It's an authentic, masterpiece of minimal beats and street poetry that is universally recognised as one of the greatest rap albums of all time.

TRACK LISTING

40 Side North:
The Genesis
NY State Of Mind
Life's A Bitch
The World Is Yours
Halftime

41st Side South
Memory Lane (Sitt'in In Da Park)
One Love
One Time 4 Your Mind
Represent
It Ain't Hard To Tell

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