Illmatic

Illmatic

5.0 12
by Nas
     
 

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By spring 1994, the potent combination of West Coast G-funk (the domain of Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Warren G) and gangsta lyrics had become the dominant style in hip-hop. Then Nas delivered his debut recording. His hard-edged, unapologetic, and literate tales of project life lived up to the hype generated by the success of his early single "It Ain't Hard to Tell."… See more details below

Overview

By spring 1994, the potent combination of West Coast G-funk (the domain of Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Warren G) and gangsta lyrics had become the dominant style in hip-hop. Then Nas delivered his debut recording. His hard-edged, unapologetic, and literate tales of project life lived up to the hype generated by the success of his early single "It Ain't Hard to Tell." Nas grew up in the infamous, sprawling Queensbridge Projects of Queens, and his New York state of mind was vastly different than Billy Joel's. On "One Love," he rapped, "I sit with a buddha sack/ Mind's in another world/ Thinking how can we exist through the facts/ Written in school textbooks, Bibles, etc.You may say I need time alone/ To relax my dome/ No phone/ Left the nine at home," and the caliber of rhyme skills rose three notches. With ILLMATIC's ghetto verité, Nas prefigured Notorious B.I.G. and fellow Queensbridge neighbors Mobb Deep -- and quietly but firmly reestablished the merit of East Coast hip-hop.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Steve Huey
Often cited as one of the best hip-hop albums of the '90s, Illmatic is the undisputed classic upon which Nas' reputation rests. It helped spearhead the artistic renaissance of New York hip-hop in the post-Chronic era, leading a return to street aesthetics. Yet even if Illmatic marks the beginning of a shift away from Native Tongues-inspired alternative rap, it's strongly rooted in that sensibility. For one, Nas employs some of the most sophisticated jazz-rap producers around: Q-Tip, Pete Rock, DJ Premier, and Large Professor, who underpin their intricate loops with appropriately tough beats. But more importantly, Nas takes his place as one of hip-hop's greatest street poets -- his rhymes are highly literate, his raps superbly fluid regardless of the size of his vocabulary. He's able to evoke the bleak reality of ghetto life without losing hope or forgetting the good times, which become all the more precious when any day could be your last. As a narrator, he doesn't get too caught up in the darker side of life -- he's simply describing what he sees in the world around him, and trying to live it up while he can. He's thoughtful but ambitious, announcing on "N.Y. State of Mind" that "I never sleep, 'cause sleep is the cousin of death," and that he's "out for dead presidents to represent me" on "The World Is Yours." Elsewhere, he flexes his storytelling muscles on the classic cuts "Life's a Bitch" and "One Love," the latter a detailed report to a close friend in prison about how allegiances within their group have shifted. Hip-hop fans accustomed to 73-minute opuses sometimes complain about Illmatic's brevity, but even if it leaves you wanting more, it's also one of the few '90s rap albums with absolutely no wasted space. Illmatic reveals a great lyricist in top form meeting great production, and it remains a perennial favorite among serious hip-hop fans.

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Product Details

Release Date:
04/15/1994
Label:
Columbia Europe
UPC:
5099747595912
catalogNumber:
4759591
Rank:
4442

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Nas   Primary Artist,Vocals
AZ   Vocals
Olu Dara   Trumpet

Technical Credits

MC Serch   Executive Producer
Nas   Composer,Producer
DJ Premier   Composer,Producer
Diego Garrido   Engineer
Large Professor   Producer
Tim "The Funky Red" Lathem   Engineer
Q-Tip   Producer
Kevin Reynolds   Engineer
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth   Producer
Eddie Sancho   Engineer
Jamey Staub   Engineer
Jason Vogel   Engineer
Stan Wallace   Engineer
Pete Rock   Composer,Producer
L.E.S.   Producer
Anton "Sample This" Pushansky   Engineer
Jo Di Donato   Art Direction
Jonathan Davis   Composer
William Paul Mitchell   Composer
O. Scott   Composer

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