illmatic: 1.The greatest 40 minutes in Hip-Hop history 2.Beyond ill 3.The ultimate 4.Half-man, half- amazing 5.The best hip-hop/rap album of all time.6.the sickest, illest, best lyrical rap album you could ever be blessed to listen to.
New York is the city that founded hip-hop. It has produced a Hova, an X, a 50, a Puff, a Mase, Fugees, a Tribe, a Mobb, a Clan and the most Notorious artist ever. And yet somehow a Nas remained slightly iller than the rest, during the golden age of lyrists. His debut illmatic is widely regarded as the greatest hip-hop album ever created, a timeless example of the lost art of spitting street poems based on life. Its value is priceless when in comparison to the crap these soft, unoriginal, non-annunciating, lyrically illiterate, wannabe gangster fake MC’s churn out today.
The flow is quick and clear, a verbal AK-47 that never jams. The hooks are as clever as they are innovative in arrangement. His style is forever raw, yet polished. He bleeds his lyrics, carved from the Queensbridge streets and across the water the bright lights of Manhattan, so close yet so far away. After dropping out of school in 8th grade to pursue his calling as a verbal prophet, he released illmatic before he could legally drink a beer and since has gone from phenom to prodigal son of Gotham. Signed by Columbia records at 18, his debut album was highly anticipated and delivered in spades. A run time of 39 minutes and change, only 9 songs but all of them certifiably ill. Nas had homered off his first pitch in the majors, the start of a legendary career during the height of the rap revolution. It was most recently honored at the Kennedy Center for its massive contribution in respect to the history of music. The word illmatic was literally added to the English language and defined by dictionaries following it’s 1994 release. Every track contains eclectic beats reworked and sampled from his childhood musical hero’s, the cover an homage and picture of little Nostradamus, a nod to the afro of Michael’s Off the Wall.
Nas had written an undeniably honest, first-person narrative of what he saw in the projects of Queensbridge, N.Y. as demonstrated in every carefully crafted hook. His roots to the Apple run as deep as the tales he spits about the storied metropolis. The baseline of N.Y. State of Mind is as cherished now as the opening horns of Sinatra’s anthem, and one day will hopefully replace him as the soundtrack following Yankee home victories. Frank was right though. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.
The lyrics of Nas are forever poignant, the hooks beyond original and his delivery is as pronounced as the twin towers that dominated the skyline he stared at while writing this epic street odyssey. The masters for this album should be under bullet proof glass, in the fucking Smithsonian because it is an American treasure. You feel the pain, joy and reality of N.Y.C. through the eyes of a true poet lyricist, fully self-aware of who he is and what he could be in the future. The greatest MC to ever walk the concrete jungle. Half-man, half-amazing.
“There’s real hip-hop and there’s bullshit hip-hop”—Nas.
This was one of the first hip-hop albums I ever owned at age 13, along with Ready to Die and The Chronic. It is still in my top 5 all-time and reminds me fondly of every locker-room I was ever in, blasting Halftime before warm-ups. In the seasons and albums that followed, reciting the first 59 seconds of Affirmative Action as a team became our pregame ritual to every title run during the last 3 years of literally a decade of playing ball together, both travel and high school. I can still rip that first verse like it’s the 97 playoffs, the words engrained in my subconscious forever because even in my naïve adolescence I still knew they were the truth. It ain’t hard to tell.
For Nas, Nar and the rest of Queens, N.Y.
Nastrodamus Book of Street Prophecies
-The Message – It Ain’t Hard to Tell
-N.Y. State of Mind -Represent
-Life’s A Bitch -One Time 4 Your Mind
-Affirmative Action -I Can
-One Love -Live at the BBQ
-Street Dreams -Nas Is Like
-Halftime -Get Down
-Bridging The Gap -One Mic
-If I Ruled the World -The World is Yours