Released during the golden era of hip-hop, Nas’ highly anticipated debut album sent shockwaves all through the music world — that are still felt to this day. From the locomotive roar all the way to “Nas’ raps should be locked in a cell/it ain’t hard to tell”, this album opened the floodgates for a large number of emcees.
Since its release, the LP has etched Nas’ name in stone as “rap’s greatest lyricist” and who in their right mind could argue? Clocking in at a little under 40 mins, Illmatic wasted no time in getting the Queensbridge native’s message to world. Lyrically painting vivid images of growing up in the ghetto and still committing to the hustle. Nas isn’t merely a quiet observer of the harshness around him, but a leader with a voice willing to convert those experiences into a 10-track CD.
We all love that “perfect” album, but to bestow that name upon Illmatic is an understatement. It feels more like a greatest hits collection, recounting an artist’s legendary rise to the top. That is the kind of maturity Nas conveys here, and at the young age of 20, he became the premier face of the industry.
VERDICT — An incredible journey into the heart of Queensbridge, where Nasty Nas perfects the art of storytelling. An unmitigated masterpiece compacted with iconic New York City anthems.
RATING: 10 — ELITE
BEST TRACK: Here’s the thing — they’re all so good!