The Appreciation of Nas Illmatic 20 Years Later


April 19, 1994 a 10 track, 9 song album was released that is still today regarded as classic and one of the greatest rap album debuts of all time! That album was Nas “Illmatic”.

I’ll admit at first, didn’t dig this project at all. I wasn’t a teenager yet and his videos weren’t interesting to me so whenever I seen this on Rap City…CLICK! Until I seen something else. It wasn’t until 1996 that I actually became a Nas fan and it wasn’t until 1997-98 that my love and appreciation for this project really set in. As I became a lyric listener this album became “Rap Gold” to me. I was reciting and quoting this album like it had a new release date of April 19, 1997.

Illmatic is an album for anybody who enjoys nothing more than beats an rhymes. The album isn’t overly creative, it doesn’t necessarily give you anything “NEW” however it tells a story of a young kid from Queens who definitely has an interesting and rough perspective on life and the people in it. It was pretty shocking how this teenager came up with his rhymes and how advanced and ahead of time the lyrics are. He wasn’t the first teenager to rap but, he appeared to be the most poetically creative. This isn’t “I Need Love” and it isn’t “F**k The Police” yet it’s easily understood if you love and appreciate the aspect of lyricism. So many sounds and lyrics from this album still feel current today yet can bring you back to a time where you enjoyed hip-hop just because it was hip-hip.

Large Professor, Pete Rock, Q-Tip and AZ helped create this great album. This album is the first shovel in the dirt for the “New Queens Grimey Era of Hip-Hop”. This album spawns the career of AZ, Cormega, Mobb Deep, CNN, Mic Geronimo, Royal Flush and many others to come after him.

Sometimes I wonder would this album get the same praise if The Source never gave it 5 Mics. I also wonder how this album would do if it was released for the first time in this current era of music. I think the CRITICAL acclaim remains the same because the aspect of knowing how to rap will always be appreciated. However, I do feel people would hesitate to call it classic simply because the structure of this album doesn’t even give you an idea of what to expect next.

We’ll keep this album at it’s Classic Status. However, I think this album is no longer Nas best album. I put “It Was Written”, “The Nigger Album” and “Life Is Good” above it for sure. That’s me and my list though. Who truly knew that a young shortybuster from Queens would be regarded as one of the greatest rappers EVER? Salute to Nasty Nas and his gem Illmatic.

But when it’s real, you doing this even without a record contract, nahmsayin? – Nas

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