nas LostGram said:Let's pretend we're standing on the streets of New York in the late 80s and early 90s. Look in front of the liquor store and you'll see people mingling outside at all hours of the day, smoking, drinking, slangin rock, just wasting away the days. Look down an ally and find people shooting cee-lo, betting the only couple dollars they have to their name. Notice how young some of the people are, kids who dropped out of school either because they had to, they thought street life was cool, or both. The poverty cycle is a vicious thing. To quote Notorious BIG, “You see the streets is a short stop/Either you're slinging crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot”. Ghetto youths were forced into the trife life from a young age, realizing early on that they did not have many options if they wanted to live the life they wanted to. Soon they found out there was a 3rd option, an option that just recently came into fruition as a realistic one: becoming a rapper. See, rap didn't even exist until 1979, and rap as we know it now didn't evolve until the mid-late 80s. Before “Rapper's Delight”, in the 70s, an MC really was just a “master of ceremony”, basically the guy calling out random shit while the DJ spun his music and the people danced. The MC's job was just to get the crowd hyped. Until Run-DMC, it wasn't a realistic profession for anyone trying to escape life in the ghetto. During the 80s, there was a young teenager aspiring to be a rapper, calling himself “an MC sparkin”. He had many of his own rhymes, but he was “too scared to grab the mics in the parks and/kick my little raps”. He was only comfortable showing his growth as an artist with his close acquaintances, not ready to show the world what his mind was concocting just yet. But they would find out soon enough.
Fast forward to 1991. Main Source just dropped their critically acclaimed album “Breaking Atoms”, and on one song, “Live At The Barbeque”, an unfamiliar voice is introduced. His name is Nasty Nas, and he's rapping about shooting Jesus, hanging ******, murdering police, and kidnapping Barbara Bush. The only thing coming out of listeners' mouths after his verse was, “Well, damn.” Nasty Nasdaq had been introduced. Nas soon met with producers DJ Premier, Pete Rock, and Q Tip through main source producer Large Professor. They then began constructing Nas' debut album.
Now it's 1992, and there's a song on the radio called “Halftime”. Listeners recognized the voice as the kid who spit the “verbally, I'm iller than an AIDS patient” verse. This time Nasty Nas is in full on boast-mode, dropping a flurry of braggadocio quotables for a 4-minute span. The kid wasn't even 20 years old yet, and he was garnering comparison to hip-hop's most skilled and influential member, Rakim. Nobody wanted to say it at the time, but there were murmurs that Nas was actually BETTER than Rakim. The same Rakim that basically invented flow and internal rhyme. The biggest pioneer of the modern rap industry. How could this be? It was only one song, they thought. There's no way he could keep that up for an entire album. “Halftime” was just the first single, and the hype for the album had begun.
When Illmatic finally dropped, listeners didn't know what they were getting into. After a brief intro, they were blessed with the sound of the heaviest, stickiest, most perfectly simple piano progression in hip-hop history. An unsure Nas decides to go in on the beat without “knowing how to start this shit” and proceeds to drop the most memorable opening lines to a rap song ever. If you don't know those four lines, fuck you. Nas set off a short film in their minds, with his rhythmic commentary as the driving force of the story. It was basically the opposite of a silent film, in which there is no sound other than a live orchestra portraying the thoughts and emotions of the silent characters on the screen. Nas painted these pictures with his words for them throughout the album, from the scintillating chase scene of “NY State of Mind”, to the letters to a friend in jail on “One Love”, to the descriptions of youngins breaking in and entering on “Represent”. Nas provided them with the narration and they were forced to imagine the scene in their heads.
Nas let his listeners peer into his life, dropping an introspective verse on “Life's A Bitch” that shows his growth from his youth to that point. He showed he matured from stealing to improve his life in the short run to being smarter and looking into the future. “I switched my motto, instead of saying 'fuck tomorrow’/That buck that bought a bottle could've struck the lotto”. Nas also unleashed one of his good friends onto their ears, letting AZ have the first and only guest verse on the entire album. He probably only let him on because he dropped one of the best rap verses of all time. “Visualizing the realism of life and actuality/Fuck who's the baddest a person's status depends on salary.” No further explanation is needed for that greatness.
Nas didn't tell stories just for the sake of telling stories. Every one of his anecdotes carries a central theme, a point he is trying to make, whether it be about love, trust, or just letting everybody know what the fuck was going on in the streets of New York at the time. Chuck D said that rap was basically black people's form of news, how they found out what was going on in THEIR world, instead of the fabricated one the media portrayed that primarily focused on the “white” world. Illmatic would be like if channel 5 news was filmed and directed by Quentin Tarentino. Or Chris Nolan. Or Spielberg. Or Scorsese. Or whoever you consider to be an elite film director. Nas recited works of art. Nas is a master of description, littering minds with minor details that give you the exact image that he is seeing. He shares that skill with the best writers of any genre.
Aside from the subject matter of the album, Illmatic shows some of the most technically sound lyrical wizardry ever. Nas is a master of internal rhyme, multi-syllabolic rhyme, flow, and cadence. He uses many poetic techniques as he alludes several subjects with deep metaphors that are littered throughout entire album. He flexes his lyrical potency on every song on the album, and it takes endless spins to pick up everything. On first listen, one might think Nas is speaking an entirely different language, with all of the slang he uses. But as you figure out what every word he's saying means, it becomes more and more obvious that Nas is a poetic genius. How a 19-year-old kid who dropped out in middle school was able to become such a master of the craft, I'll never know. Nas obviously did a lot of self-schooling as a teenager.
“It Ain't Hard To Tell” may be his best display of metaphorical mastery. Nas drops enough knowledge darts on this song to make anyone's head spin. “I drink Moet with Medusa, give her shotguns in hell”. Are you fucking kidding me? That line is beyond the scope of adjectives. Before Rap Genius (aka before I knew another meaning of the word shotgun other than the actual gun and chugging a beer), I spent days trying to figure out what he meant by that line. Nas is so badass that he can go face to face with Medusa and get HER stoned, instead of letting her turn him into stone. I can't even count the amount of times my mind was blown during this album, but that line provided the biggest explosion.
From a technical standpoint, Nas is untouchable. He doesn't make all of his rhymes obvious the way Eminem does when he recites every rhyming syllable the same way as the previous ones so that you can tell he meant to rhyme them. Nas is more laid back and doesn't annunciate all of his rhymes the same way as the previous words he's rhyming them with. If you listen closely, Nas was rhyming everything on every song on Illmatic. Illmatic contained the most complex rhyme schemes anyone had heard to date, and it changed the way every rapper approached their rhymes. That is the biggest way that Nas influenced hip-hop. That's why you'll hear every rapper list Nas as one of their biggest influences. Jay Z might be the biggest Nas stan of all time. Eminem admitted to jocking Nas' entire flow for his first album, “Infinite”. It's corny to say that a rapper is probably your rappers favorite rapper, but one thing that you can for sure say about Nas is that he influenced your favorite rapper.
Nas is my favorite rapper of all time, and Illmatic is my favorite album of all time. Seems cliché, I know, but the fact of the matter is I’ve listened to almost everything hip-hop has to offer and nothing ever stacks up to Illmatic. There’s nothing I enjoy more. I know there are a lot of people out there that haven’t heard it, but I truly think it’s a life changing experience for everyone. It made me view music as a true art for the first time, and opened up my eyes to many things. It changed the way I viewed nearly everything in life. I’m obviously an extreme case, but I think everybody needs to hear this album. The only thing I think is more tragic than people not having heard this album is people who have heard this album but don’t appreciate it in the slightest. I’m not saying it needs to be in everybody’s top 10 rap albums, but if you don’t recognize the influence and the skill displayed on this album I don’t know what to tell you.
This goes beyond numbers so I’m not giving a score. Peace.
wow. you've been there since the beginning, og shit.Daredevil said:First time was at a Luda concert in Seatle, that was one week after CD dropped. Then Touch The Sky tour, Glow In the Dark tour, WTT tour. All in Vancouver.
Glow in the Dark was the best, i had a better time at WTT because i met Ye and Jay but as far as concerts go (I've seen a lot) Glow in the Dark is the best I've been to. Nothing tops first time I saw Kanye though, it was like magic, I knew he was going to be the next big thing in music after seeing his incredible stage presence... i had in 1 week learnt every Ye song to date (easy then) and was a big Rocafella fan but in line for the concert (Ludacris, David Banner ect) the promoters said Kanye wasn't going to make it, he was last billed on the concert. Luda was headlining, he sucked, really disappointing. At the end of the concert last min Ye showed up and did Through the Wire and Slow Jamz. It was fucking amazing. Only thing comparable is the other Ye concerts.
Just turned 26rwk said:wow. you've been there since the beginning, og shit.
you go to the school spirit tour?
damn, jelly af.Daredevil said:Just turned 26
I grew up around music, my dad was a music producer and played with a shit ton of famous ppl so i was around concerts my whole life.
Been to the ones i posted. Seen lots of other rappers, seen Jay multiple times, other artists on GOOD to.