Nas-Illmatic 20 years on...

"Y'all know my steelo with or without the airplay
I keep some E&J, sittin' bent up in the stairway.."

It was inevitable but everyone and their Uncle and their Uncle's Uncle is speaking on the 20th anniversary of the classic, influential, esssential, momentous and vital 5 mic's in the Source debut Hip Hop album from Nas.

Like so many others I was in awe of (then Nasty) Nas's rugged and ill raspy vocal delivery and ill wordplay on Main Source's "Live At The BBQ" (1991) and definitely wanted more from him.

I knew he would be one to watch and he certainly fulfilled the promise by first appearing on the Zebrahead soundtrack with the classic "Halftime" (1992)

The same year he was enlisted as one of the MC's dropping ill verses alongside Chubb Rock & Red Hot Lover Tone on MC Serch's "Back To The Grill" and the remix. 

Nas followed that up with the timeless Large Professor produced Michael Jackson-"Human Nature" sampling...


I fondly remember buying the Illmatic cassette (it was sealed up and I was mad excited about tearing off the wrapper and placing the tape in my boom box/stereo (that did eat tapes on occasion) and reading the inlay credits) first and later purchasing the CD, actually from memory I think a record rep handed me a copy... needless to say the album was on heavy rotation through out 1994 and beyond, it was in essence one of the soundtracks to '94 for me, I used to bug Friends to play it in the car whenever I took the CD with me and needless to say but every track was most definitely played at some stage on The Weds Nite Jam show.


On my very first listen of Illmatic I loved the Wild Style sampling intro "Genesis" and though it was a great way to set off an album, but it was the Joe Chambers, Eric B & Rakim and  Kool and The Gang drum sampling "N.Y. State of Mind" that was the track that I rewound the most, Nas's delivery (it has been stated that he did it in one take) on that cut and DJ Premier's production, slow, bumping, menacing and seriously ill was simply perfection ...but as you all know the whole album is still an incredible listen from start to finish and with such esteemed producers behind the boards, DJ Premier, Large Professor, Pete Rock, Q-Tip & L.E.S. it was destined to the be the album it is and not to mention the dope beat makers that laced the remixes for the singles off the album: The LG Experience, Groove Merchantz (Godfather Don, V.I.C.), Dr Butcher & Def Jef.


Illmatic has been re-released and has a disc of remixes, rare tracks and a classic freestyle from the WKCR Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito The Barber show (that show will always have the "World Is Yours" (Remix) etched in my memory) to be honest I am a bit puzzled as to why 2 of Buckwild's greatest remixes for Nas were omitted as well as the original version/remix of "Memory Lane" but I suspect it was due to clearance or licensing issues.

Nas ft AZ-Life's A Bitch (Remix #1)

Nas ft AZ-Life's A Bitch (Remix #2)

Here is a quick round up of links celebrating the history and significance of Illmatic...
The Source-1994 Interview with Nas 
Rap Pages interview with Bobbito Garcia

One L (to the O V E)
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