Nas
Illmatic


5.0
classic

Review

by Brendan Schroer USER (179 Reviews)
October 13th, 2011 | 673 replies


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Wondering about life in the streets of Queens, New York? Don't worry; Nas has it all painted out for you.

Hip-hop is sometimes a difficult genre to review in depth, mainly because of the minimalism in the backing beats and the heavy reliance on the rapping itself to balance out said beats. Thus, it can often be tough to discern certain hip-hop from other forms of the genre unless one's a dedicated, focused fan of the style. However, some special artists can become instantly recognizable through their subtleties, production values, and such. Nas has become such an artist with his poignant debut, Illmatic.

Now, many people have since touted Nas as the next Rakim with his witty lyricism and overall sense of style about him. While this is somewhat true, it would still be doing Nas a disservice, seeing as he's a unique artist all his own, and has made his own massive influential mark on rappers everywhere.
While some subsequent albums by Nas would be keepers in their own right, nothing could match the poetry and beats of this highly acclaimed record.

The first thing you notice when starting the album is the extremely gritty production, bringing more life to the streets that Nas is conveying here. The first track, "The Genesis" is a wonderful way to introduce the dark, murky, and depressing tone of the album. While it's simply an intro, it is still an excellent one nonetheless. The REAL fire comes in with "N.Y. State of Mind." The song doesn't start with a bang nor a burst, but a nice stroll through the hellish abyssal streets of Queens, New York. While a split piano sample rolls things along on both ends, Nas spits out rapid lines about his childhood and gang life in his native city/housing project. The song is based heavily around the minimalism of the piano, effectively serving to further emphasize Nas's bleak poetry. Overall, the song is a stone-cold hip-hop classic, deserving a place in any fan's collection.

The songs that follow do so in a similar vein; They're never moody, simply dark and oppressive; such an example is "Life's a Bitch," AZ's guest track. Both Nas and AZ perfectly describe a vivid picture of getting high, because they never know when death's hands would readily take them. The backing music is quite soothing to begin with, giving the listener time to catch his/her breath before the rapping takes place again.

The one slight sign of hope in the darkness comes with the song "One Time 4 your Mind," a track about what Nas does in his spare time. The song itself still contains a somber tone, but the mellow feel of the rolling bassline gives a certain catchy flavor to the song. The track also features a nifty call-and-response chorus between Nas and Large Professor, which certainly adds to the track's diversity. The most melodic track on the album would probably be "Memory Lane (Sittin' in da Park)." The song begins with a somewhat positive organ sample with a higher-pitched organ melody to balance it out. This is all until Nas uses his cold rhymes to bring the listener back to Earth; The balance between Nas's bleakness and the organ's positivity sends the listener a false message of hope, and thus a very convoluted listen.

Also worth noting here is the input of Nas's father, famed jazz musician Olu Dara, into the record. He uses the cornet to bring an extra diverse, almost fusion-esque feel to the tracks "Life's a Bitch (Only the ending, though)" and "It ain't Hard to Tell." His playing makes a very unique presence on the record, mixing a jazzy style with Nas's rhymes.

All in all, Illmatic is absolutely legendary, and it is one of the biggest reasons that people still listen to East Coast Hip-Hop in the first place. If you're a fan of hip-hop, this album deserves a place among the greatest records in the genre like "Ready to Die" (Notorious B.I.G.)," "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back (Public Enemy)," and such. I give this my absolute highest recommendation.

5/5



Recent reviews by this author
DragonForce Maximum OverloadPorcupine Tree Deadwing
Queen Queen IIOpeth Heritage
Metallica Master of PuppetsEd Sheeran x
user ratings (2247)
Chart.
4.6
superb
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
October 13th 2011


18462 Comments


this is kind of a track by track in disguise but good anyways

record rules of course

Digging: Recondite - Caldera/DRGN 2

struth
October 13th 2011


435 Comments


so cheap on vinyl. perfect album.

JWT155
October 13th 2011


9245 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Life's a bitch and then ya die.

Digging: Death From Above 1979 - The Physical World

Piglet
October 13th 2011


4654 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

dats why ye get high.

JWT155
October 13th 2011


9245 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Cuz ya never know when ya gonna go.

ToMMyMiL116
October 13th 2011


1474 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It aint hard ta tell!

PaddyPooHead
October 13th 2011


366 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

genuine contender for goat

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
October 13th 2011


23816 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

fuck jwt/piglet/jwt you stole my awesomely original post. fuck it I'm posting it anyway:

Life's a bitch and then you die, that's why we get high, cause you never know when you're gonna go

YetAnotherBrick
October 13th 2011


4449 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

My style switches like a faggot, but not bisexual, I'm an intellectual, with rap I'm a professional, and that's no question, yo

someguest
October 13th 2011


20527 Comments


5/5 at the end is unnecessary.

Scoot
October 13th 2011


17751 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

great album 5/5 would listen again

bloc
October 13th 2011


34848 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Okay album

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

ToMMyMiL116
October 13th 2011


1474 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

BLOC, my man! Whats good? Terrible album.

ToMMyMiL116
October 13th 2011


1474 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This may sound crazy.........but I think Stillmatic is just as good as this...

bloc
October 13th 2011


34848 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I've only checked out a few other albums in his discog, but still I need to listen to those again.

Piglet
October 13th 2011


4654 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i like lego.

bloc
October 13th 2011


34848 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Piglets are pretty cute

Piglet
October 13th 2011


4654 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

oink.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
October 13th 2011


23816 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"I hope this length was alright."

come on you guys: that's what she said

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
October 13th 2011


23816 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

actually wait, should be "that's what he said"



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy