Not just Nas at his best, but arguably hip-hop music as a whole at its best. Illmatic was a great releif to many hiphop heads when it was released in 1994, because it looked like a light at the end of the bling-bling rap tunnel. He was hailed as the saviour for bringing rap back to the streets - "I drop the ancient manifested hip-hop, straight off the block" The album is a classic. No argument about that because it has everything in it. The lyrics are fantastic and his flow is like nothing I have heard before or since. Lines such as "Fuck 'rap is real', watch the herbs stand still // Never talkin to snakes cause the words of man kill // True in the game, as long as blood is blue in my veins // I pour my Heineken brew to my deceased crew on memory lane" show that hes talent is undeniable. And the whole album is full of tight lins like that, i don't think he drops a bad lyric throughout. The production is crazy as well. Nas' skill is complimented perfectly by three beats from DJ Premier (including 'NY State Of Mind' possibly one of my favourite beats ever and Nas' best ever track), one from Pete Rock and one courtesy of Tribe's Q-Tip. The production suits Nas so well it is scary and he manages to stay the centre of attention despite blazing beats happening behind him. This is such a good album I find it hard to fail. It is 45 minutes long which is short for a hip hop album, but I honestly didn't notice because I just listened through it again. If you have heard more recent Nas stuff, especially 'Hate Me Now', I understand if you are hesitant to buy this, but do! I feel that he fell off after Illmatic and never matched its excellence. If you like hip-hop, you like this. Simple as that.
Some of y'all are thinking Nas'll never eclipse 'Illmatic'. That album was real raw and edgy, with Nas displaying his supreme lyrical skill on the likes of 'the world is yours' which could be the soundrtrack to anyone's urban adventures. Still, I reckon some critics are being too hard on him, saying he's lost it an' shit. The 1999 release 'nastradamus' is banging. The production compensates for any lyrical flaws, but there really aint many. He's still real audacious and street in his lyrics even if his lifestyle's not. Highlights include the childhood reminiscences of 'project windows' - reminds me of Lauryn Hill's 'every ghetto, every city' but from a more negative stance. He's as bold as ever in 'come get me' and 'shoot 'em up' is like a gangsta nursery rhyme. 'God love us' is real touching: 'God love us hood niggas/ coz he be with us in the prisons/ he take time to listen/ God love us hood niggas/ next to Jesus on the cross was the crook nigga/ but he forgive us'. Hey, maybe this is phoney, but it sounds real enough to me. What's the harm in blowin up if you don't forget your roots? 'big girl' is the sexiest track I've ever heard (yeah even better than his QBs 'Oochie Wally). The album's worth getting for this alone... This album's great background music. Ok it's not breaking much new ground, but it's on my playlist most weekends.
"The smooth criminal on beat breaks Never put me in your box if your sh** eats tapes" This is Nas's debut album recorded in 1994 and it is an absolute corker! It's a relatively short album standing at under 45 minutes but literally every track is a winner. The album starts off with a track titled "The Genesis" giving you a little background into Nas's upbringing whilst the theme from "Wildstyle" plays in the background. Nas when this was recorded was a relatively young rappper "coming outta Queensbridge". Highlights of the album for me, include "N.Y. State of Mind", "One-Love" and "Lifes a Bitch". Lyrically intelligent and I think this is Nas at his best. The production is superbly "hooky" with DJ Premier and Pete-Rock both helping out. An essential 90's hip-hop album.