This month marks the 20 year anniversary of when Nas‘s debut full-length LP Illmatic, entered the charts. Released in 1994, the groundbreaking album changed the face of hip-hop, especially in East Coast.
What impresses us the most, is that Nas was only 20 years old when he released this classic record. Packed with references to the Queensbridge projects in which he grew up, Nas displayed an ability to express himself with a maturity beyond his years. Even more impressive, is that Nas was only 19 when he recorded the album, or even younger if you include “Halftime” which was recorded and released in 1992 for the Zebrahead soundtrack when he was still known as Nasty Nas.
While Illmatic may not have been the highest selling rap album of the ’90s, it was the most universally critically acclaimed record with The Source Magazine awarding its prestigious, highest rating of five mics. Beyond critical or commercial acclaim, Illmatic as a record has truly stood the test of time.
The album is held up as the blueprint for a truly classic hip-hop release. “But is this the new Illmatic?” has become the common question asked of new records when artists drop highly anticipated albums. Illmatic is regarded as the the Queensbridge rapper’s finest work, but it is also considered by most as one of the quintessential 1990’s hip-hop releases. When Illmatic was released it was unlike anything else up to that point. We are forever grateful to Nas for creating Illmatic and being responsible for shaping the New York hip-hop sound from that point forward.