5.0 16
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


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:
Columbia Europe


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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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Illmatic 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Very few rappers have ever reached the level lyrically that Nas was on when he did Illmatic. It's not that Nas has lost his skills, but this album is his defining work like the Superfly Score was for Curtis Mayfield. Nas was just raw when he debuted, and the hunger was there.He had the perfect production from Primo, Pete Rock, and Large Professor and the perfect flow. Maybe Nas should return to his first crop of producers instead of using the average Trackmaster's production.
Guest More than 1 year ago
From the very rare and hard to achieve 5 mic award in The Source Magazine to being hailed as the second coming of Rakim, Nas had achieved the very rare status of the complete package. Lyrically at this point in his career he painted vivid pictures of street life not heard since Rakim, assembled some of the top producers in the game to give him some of the rawest tracks, all the while establishing the utmost street credibility. Not just one ALL tracks stand out as classics and established Illmatic along with 36 Chambers from Wu, Biggie's Ready to Die, ATCQ's Midnight Marauders and Black Moon's Enta Da Stage as legit artists who brought creditbility back to the East.
Guest More than 1 year ago
You know when an album is unbelievably astounding when you remember exactly where you were when you first heard it. I remember at the age of 12 sitting outside at the corner store and hearing someone play ''Life's a B****'' and I was simply amazed. This is one album that is definitely in my top five of all time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one album you can listen to straight through, every track is sick, the rhymes aren't corny, but make you think to decipher them sometimes, excellent beats to go with the great delivery, timing, and rhymes of NAS.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an album that towers above all others. It is lyrically untouchable in the rap industry. Infact, I think there is no other rap album that even comes remotely close to Illmatic. Nas, with his great storytelling ability, portrays the life of a man growing up in Queens and the hardships he goes through. This album is basically a life story. The second track, which I like best (N.Y. State of Mind), was written by Nas when he was only 17. I have listened to this album over 200 times and I still enjoy every track just the same. If you are a fan of real, true rap, this album is a necessity. Don't waste your money or your time on rappers that talk about their cars, jewels, and girls, because anybody could talk about that and make money these days. Illmatic, however is the truest album out there. If I were not limited to 5 stars, I would give this album as many as possible. A definite buy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Yo, I come from London and I was born in 1986 so I missed the golden era of hip hop. Nowadays all Mc's do is rhyme about their paper, hoes etc but this album is my favourite. lyrics are chillin, relaxed and real with the beats bangin. im a rapper aswell, 16 at the moment,so when i look for album inspirations i look at illmatic. Slammmmmmiiiinnn.........
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nas's 1994 debut is the finest concoction of music to reach my ears. The opening skit sets the mood. Thereafter, all tracks except one are stellar. My personal favorite is "World Is Yours", produced by Pete Rock. The low point of Illmatic is average. "One Time 4 Your Mind" is a solid track, but lacks the energy of it's peers. Any other track can be argued as a classic. Some cuts, such as "Life's A B****", are undeniably classic. I recommend this to anyone with the ability to comprehend sound.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is definatly a classic as you already know. nas only had 10 songs on here cuase he made sure all ten were hot id rather go 10 for 10 the like 8 for 16 ya feel me. halftime might just be my favorite joint along with N.Y. state of mind. Almost every song in itself on this album is known as a classic. dont call yourself a hip hop head if u dont have this cd. or unless for some reason u hate nas.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
nas is rough, rugged, real, and emotional on his debut. i bought this cd in '98 and i still have yet to take it out of my system. be it my car, my room, whatever, its been bumpin for seven years for a reason. ill never get tired of illmatic, nor have i ever heard such amazing lyrics/poetry/production/beats.
Guest More than 1 year ago
the dopest album nas ever did. he got it for for this album now why didn't he get a grammy
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nasier jones is one of the most remakable mc's of our time,not because he recived tha frist 5 mic rating in tha source but because he led tha way for many many mc's to speak tha truth in what we live everyday in tha streets and in life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this cd is the same as the original but digitally remastered so it had a higher quality sound. I also like the bonus disc its nothing special but any real nas fan would love it. If your not a true nas fan an you have the first cd then i wouldnt reccomend u buy this one but a die hard nas fan needs it to continue the collection.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Illmatic is my favorite album, Life's A b**** is my favorite song, and I can honestly say that there is not one song on the first CD that I think is skipworthy. The remixes aren't very good, but On The Real is great and Star Wars is good. Individual songs: 1) The Genesis- N/A 2) NY State of Mind- 10/10- Amazing 3) Life's A B****h- 20/10 - Favorite song ever 4) The World is Yours- 9.5/10 5) Halftime- 10/10- Great Jazz Beat, great song 6) Memory Lane- 10/10 7) One Love- 9.5/10- Great lyrics/ premise, musically not as good as rest of album 8) One Time 4 Your Mind- 10/10 Love the subtle beat 9) Represent- 10/10 10) It Ain't Hard To Tell- Awesome beat, great rapping, incredible song Best: 1) Life's A B**** 2) It Ain't Hard To Tell 3) Halftime 4) NY State of Mind 5)Memory Lane