Nas
Illmatic


5.0
classic

Review

by necroscope86 USER (19 Reviews)
April 18th, 2013 | 27 replies


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Among the most honest and gritty looks at street life, and certainly the one I recommend highest.

A lot of hip-hop artists love to talk about street life as though it were some sort of game, and this has garnered the genre a lot of attention from the media. Artists such as 2Pac flooded their songs with a plethora of curse words whilst Lil' Wayne is more than happy to spend entire albums rapping words that hardly even rhyme about how he is getting lots of women and cash and shooting guns. More than often the case is that these artists have never touched a gun in their life, but certain artists have a lot of credibility behind their stories but suffer from the way that their songs sound as though they are boasting. One artist who does not fall into this bracket is Nas and his seminal album "Illmatic".

"Illmatic" is a gritty, dark look at urban life told in an honest manner with lyrics that do not beat around the bush at all. Nas is an artist who is not afraid to come out and say exactly what he thinks about street life, and tells his stories in what is surely the most truthful manner ever put to tape. From the opening lines of "NY State Of Mind" through to the closing bars of the album it is one hundred percent to the point and has a really genuine feel to it. It is not an album that is stretched and convulted to the point of being irrelevant but Nas certainly takes his time so that not one aspect of hood life is left out. From the stacking riches side of street life to the graphic descriptions of guns jamming and having to flee in a dog-eat-dog world, this release has it all.

Flow-wise, Nas' performance is absolutely scintillating. Every line is delivered with an air of menace to it that just adds to the realistic feel of the album. Each song has its own identity and each song is vocally varied but still they feel at home among one another. And if the flows are good, then the lyrics are on another level entirely. This is an album that is jam-packed with multi-syllabic rhyme schemes that are almost untouchable. The introduction track "The Genesis" sets the tone for the release with its ghetto sound, and then when the rapping starts on the first proper song, the aforementioned "NY State Of Mind", this release comes into its own. The open nature of these narratives about life on the New York streets is just unbelievable and the lyrics themselves are flawless.

Each song has its memorable lines such as "I never sleep cuz' sleep is the cousin of death" but this is not really one that is about being catchy nor having sections that stand out. This release is intended to be one straight story-telling experience from start to finish with harrowing lyrics that are intelligently crafted and it does this masterfully, but what are lyrics like these without a good beat to back them? The beats on "Illmatic" have a very gritty, filthy feel to them, with the bass being very prominent in the mix, as should be expected from a hip-hop album. There are also a few guest appearances and cameos on "Illmatic", with the one from AZ on "Life's a Bitch" standing out as being most memorable.

The best track here be the overly sad, haunting "Life's A Bitch". This track has some very intricate lyrics that are ridden with so much emotion it is hard not to be moved after hearing it. The piano mixed into the background of the beat is primarily what contributes to the overly sad atmosphere this song creates and the feelings it invokes. The chorus is a very memorable one:

"Life's a bitch and then ya die,
That's why we get high
Cuz ya never know when ya gonna go".

This track shows best Nas' unique style of multi-syllabic lyrics during its second verse and is probably the strongest song in his entire catalogue, although that isn't for me to decide. If there is one track off here that I recommend you listen to then it is this one.

"Illmatic" is one of the most influential hip-hop albums of all time and after hearing it for the first time it will strike you why. Songs such as "Life's A Bitch" and the spectacular closing song "It Ain't Hard To Tell" show Nas' lyrical prowess whilst "NY State Of Mind" and other tracks are testament to the monumental level of honesty that "Illmatic" contains in its lyricism.



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user ratings (2247)
Chart.
4.6
superb
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
NeoSpaz
April 18th 2013


4518 Comments


wow look at dem negs

demigod!
April 18th 2013


44438 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

why the negs? this review is fine

Digging: Portishead - Dummy

bach
April 18th 2013


12610 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sput's a bitch and then ya die
that's why we jam plug.
Cuz ya never know when ya gonna get banned

Digging: Tim Hecker - Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again

demigod!
April 18th 2013


44438 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

but ya never know when its gonna queef

bach
April 18th 2013


12610 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

^ that's so much better.

NeoSpaz
April 18th 2013


4518 Comments


there's negs because people think this user is an alt

slipnslide
April 18th 2013


2640 Comments


its not a troll review though. posd

slipnslide
April 18th 2013


2640 Comments


also is that the highest average/ ratio of 5s to 4.5s on the site?

demigod!
April 18th 2013


44438 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this or liquid swords, probably. maybe 36 chambers

Gwyn.
April 18th 2013


15101 Comments


Bethoven has that probably, but then not a lot of people vote for that so


The highest one with the largest amount of notes is probably OK Computer, more than half the scores
are 5s, half of half are 4.5s

slipnslide
April 18th 2013


2640 Comments


gonna 2 it

slipnslide
April 18th 2013


2640 Comments


cuz im edgy

demigod!
April 18th 2013


44438 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lol sweet

oltnabrick
April 18th 2013


30846 Comments


Coo album

Digging: Prurient - Bermuda Drain

bach
April 18th 2013


12610 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ye it coo

CaptainHadouken
April 18th 2013


1960 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Negs huh? haters gonna hate. Good album though.

JinThaMC
April 19th 2013


35 Comments


Yeh this nigga rulez

blacktheripper
April 19th 2013


722 Comments


hate hiphop

DrHouseSchuldiner
April 19th 2013


5643 Comments


Pos'd my first hiphop album i heard and my fav still pos'd nice rev

JumpTheF**kUp
April 19th 2013


2710 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

happy 19th birthday illmatic



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