Nas’ “Illmatic” Turns 27 Today
Twenty-seven years ago, Nas delivered “Illmatic,” an album still widely regarded as one of the greatest of all time.
When one is given the unenviable task of naming the greatest hip-hop album of all time, it’s not entirely uncommon to see Nas’ Illmatic named as one of the go-to picks. Originally released on this day, twenty-seven years ago in 1994, it’s fair to say that the rap landscape has shifted rather drastically. Even in Nas’ own home city of New York, where the current crop of rising stars is exploring the rising drill movement to great effect.
At the time of Illmatic’s release, however, the era was strictly golden in nature. Production, which was handled by names like Pete Rock, DJ Premier, Erick Sermon, RZA, Havoc, Large Professor, and more, featured heavy use of sampling. The aesthetic was, more often than not, rugged and raw — qualities that reflected the lifestyle and surroundings of the emcees. When Nas ultimately stepped up to deliver his own debut album, he was only twenty years old. Illmatic’s release was only two years removed from the death of Nas’ friend and collaborator Ill Will, who was murdered in a Queensbridge shooting.