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 is a great
lyricist, in top form, meeting great production, and it remains a
perennial favorite among serious hip-hop fans.
FORMAT: VINYL LP
NEW (FACTORY SEALED)
JEWEL CASE: 12" VINYL LP COVER
GENRE: RAP /
RECORD LABEL: COLUMBIA EUROPE
NO. OF DISCS: 1
1 The Genesis
2 N.Y. State of Mind
3 Life's a Bitch
4 The World Is Yours
6 Memory Lane (Sittin' in da Park)
7 One Love
8 One Time 4 Your Mind
10 It Ain't Hard to Tell
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